Joint educational program for BA students

“Understanding Europe” is a joint educational program (30 ECTS) offered by the Aurora European Universities Alliance and open to BA students of all disciplinary backgrounds. Students have the unique opportunity to get a multidisciplinary introduction to Europe – its history, politics, societies, arts, and popular culture.

The program consists of two core courses (5 ECTS each, in English) and an area of specialization (20 ECTS) in which students can choose from a number of courses which have been selected for the program by participating universities. There is also a possibility to receive credits for internships and spending a semester abroad.

Students gain a comparative perspective in their university experience and have access to various forms of mobility. Students will also benefit from the innovative teaching methods developed within Aurora and the special attention paid to the Sustainable Development Goals. Students are awarded a certificate from the Aurora European Universities Alliance after successfully completing the courses.

For further information, please contact: florian.freitag@uni-due.de

Perspectives on Europe in a Global Context

Core course 1

ECTS credits: 5
Period: weekly, October 2023 – December 2023
Mode of repetition: annually

In this course, we address trans-European cooperation and integration by studying media, film, literature, popular culture, arts and EU law from a historical and contemporary perspective. You will learn about the formation of identities and cultures, politics of migration, mobility and security, war and conflict in Europe. The course will cover:

  • History of Europe and the European Union: Political, Philosophical, Legal, Social and Cultural Dimensions
  • Processes of Europeanization and Integration: Strategies and Mechanisms of Inclusion and Exclusion and Identity Formation
  • Migration and Mobility
  • Imagined Others and Memory Cultures
  • Narratives of Europe in Film, Literature and Art

We will also have a guest lecture and discussion with Oliver Geden (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) on the topic of EU climate politics.

Teaching methods

Online lectures and exercises include analysis of documents, visual sources and graphs; group discussions in breakout rooms and flipped classrooms; and preparatory reading.

Class assessment

Multiple choice test on December 5th, 2023.

Challenges in Europe

Core course 2

ECTS credits: 5
Period: weekly, April-June 2024
Mode of repetition: annually

Are you ready to meet the sustainability challenges that Europe will face in the 21st century? In „Challenges in Europe,” students select from a range of topics, each of them linked to a specific Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), to examine case studies with 3-4 fellow students and to develop their own research project under the supervision of an instructor. Students and instructors will then meet up physically for a conference in Amsterdam in June 2023 to present their ideas for a more sustainable Europe.

Important dates

First meeting: TBA
First topic group meeting: TBA
Student conference: TBA

Registration and Questions

Participation is limited to 20 students.
Registration deadline: TBA
To register and if you have any questions, please get in touch with Florian Freitag


Religious Heritage: Claims and Contestations

SDG: 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Instructor: Irene Stengs

In this course, we seek to understand the processes that make religious heritage a growing political and cultural presence in Europe.

Across the continent, processes of de-churching and secularisation go hand in glove with the growing importance attributed to religious heritage. Redundant religious buildings, sites or objects deserve a second life as ‘heritage.’ Similarly, religious festivals or rituals may be preserved as part of people’s cultural identity, worthy of being transferred to future generations. Interestingly, also societies where religion is still part and parcel of everyday life, religious communities or political elites may strive for a heritage status of their site of religious worship or religious ceremony.

Processes of heritagization of religion are multi-layered and never without contestations. Some may morally object against what they consider profanation through festivalization and commercialisation and see a decline of authenticity. For others, heritagization of religion entails emancipation, enabling religious minorities to claim recognition and protection by being acknowledged as heritage.

Place attachment in mobile Europe

SDG: 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Instructor: Ólafur Rastrick

By way of notions of place attachment and cultural heritage, this class explores people-place relations and the challenges dislocating processes pose to people’s sense of home and belonging. People’s social and emotional ties to places are often perceived as an effect of prolonged interaction in and with a particular place, often characterized as roots, referring to emplaced personal memories, family history and communal cultural heritage. In this context migration is perceived as upheaval of rootedness, disrupting people’s identities and sense of belonging.

While Europe has witnessed recurring periods of excessive migration through its history, the current massive voluntary and involuntary mobility of people has formed new challenges to place-based identities and heritage. The class asks how globalization, inequality, and violence frame processes of dislocation; how people retain and renew ties to communities and neighborhoods they have chosen to leave or been forced to abandon; and how people form meaningful attachment to new places and develop new place-based identities.

Sustainable Tourism

SDG: 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Instructor: Florian Freitag

Following a general introduction to tourism, this class will use the unlikely example of theme parks to introduce key areas and practices of sustainable tourism, from resource and climate efficiency through digitization and innovation to the safety, health, and general wellbeing of employees through safety and diversity initiatives and relationships with (local) communities through special programs e.g. for children. Moreover, sustainability will be discussed as an economic strategy whose relevance for both theme park-investor relationships (the attraction of financial investments) and theme park-customer relationships (the “public image” of the company) has been steadily on the rise. Finally, students will develop their own research project on sustainability in an area of tourism of their choice.

Sustainable Language Education and Critical Pedagogy

SDG: 4: Quality Education

Instructor: Spyros Themelis, Marián Arribas-Tomé, Ulrike Jessner-Schmid

This course questions dominant discourses and practices on language education and explores alternative discourses, bodies of knowledge, conceptualisations, and practical approaches. It starts by posing some pertinent questions: 

  • Whose knowledge matters most in my education system/curriculum/training/research?
  • Whose culture is over/under-represented? 
  • Whose language is valued more/less?

This course explores how language learning and teaching can be conducted in a decolonising manner and how to promote pluriversal knowledge in schooling and education. 

Area of Specialization

Each participating university will identify a number of elective courses from which you can choose from to complete the 30 ECTS credit program. Thematically, these courses will address important issues for understanding Europe as an analytical rather than geographic category, including the history of institutions past and present, processes of nation building, migration and mobility, narratives of Europe in art, literature, media and popular culture, or they focus on theoretical perspectives like decolonizing Europe, Othering, centre and periphery, etc. Their methodological range will be broad and can include interpretative-qualitative (fieldwork, text and media analysis, etc.) and quantitative approaches. Finally, all the courses will meet some or all of Aurora’s teaching methods described above, and thus contributing to Aurora’s ambition of promoting borderless learning in Europe.

  • Niels Grüne (LV 645100, University of Innsbruck), Oceanic Histories: Conceptual Frameworks and Empirical Insights (History, English, on site)
  • Wilhelm Lehmann (LV 402093, University of Innsbruck), Europäische Integration – Vertiefung (Political Science, German, online and on site)
  • Andreas Maurer (LV 402040, University of Innsbruck), Europäische Integration – Einführung (Political Science, German, on site)
  • Andreas Maurer (LV 402091, University of Innsbruck), Europäische Integration – Vertiefung (Political Science, German, on site)
  • Silke Meyer (European Ethnology, LV 645601, University of Innsbruck), Europe from below (English, on site)
  • Helga Ramsey-Kurz (English Literature Studies, LV 609178, University of Innsbruck), Writing Refugee Narratives (English, on site)
  • Özlem Terzi (Political Science and International Relations, VU Amsterdam), EU Governance in an international context (English, on site)
  • Noam Zadoff (Contemporary History, LV 622013, University of Innsbruck), Jewish History in (Auto)Biographies (English, on site)