Germany, Hannover, Germany

Europe and its Regions

when 28 October 2019 - 30 October 2019
language English
duration 1 week

In the 1990s, researchers commonly asserted a declining significance of the nation state (“hollowing out the nation state”) and of the local level, which was paralleled by a rise in the political importance of international organisations and the regional level. The idea of a “Europe of the regions” was used to describe both an interpretation of reality and a promising model for future development. Two decades later, and in view of the recently rising nationalism, Europe’s position and prospects should be reanalysed. For this purpose, three dimensions should be distinguished: politics, economy, and culture. It should be noted, however, that developments in these dimensions can be contradictory.

Increasing political and economic interdependencies at the European and global levels have recently been confronted with a strengthened political nationalism. One popular explanation is that globalisation has dis-anchored at least parts of the population. The question arises as to whether regions and regional culture provide opportunities for identification and anchoring. The ARL International Summer School seeks to critically examine these processes in the European context: How have the power relations between the EU, the nation states, and the regional or local governments developed? Did regions gain in importance recently, or are we experiencing a re-nationalisation? What are the implications of right-wing populist and nationalist discourses?

These questions hint at a much more general question, namely, how “Europe” is conceptualised by its citizens and its political and economic elites. Is Europe synonymous with the political system of the European Union? How does the concept of the EU as a multilateral organisation with a focus on political and economic questions compare with the dispositif of Europe? And last but not least, what is the added value of conceptualising Europe beyond the continent as a specific understanding of unity in diversity based on shared fundamental values derived from the Enlightenment?

The aim of the ARL International Summer School 2019 is to critically examine “Europe of the regions” as a leitmotif for European integration. Participants will discuss conceptual, methodological, and empirical contributions that use innovative approaches to exploring the role of regions in Europe’s multilevel governance system. Relevant questions in this context include, but are not limited to:

* What is the role of regional culture in the context of a global digital media world? Is it merely a counterfactual claim?

* What are current strategies for regional development? In a globalised economy, does it make sense to focus on changing regional conditions? Is spatial proximity a factor of success for economic development, as regional cluster strategies imply?

* In the field of spatial planning, did the European integration lead to an alignment of strategies and instruments? Or is the EU – due to a lack of formal competence – largely ineffective in this field? Is there a general trend in Europe towards a diminishing formalisation in planning due to the complexity of formal planning procedures and increased participation claims?

* A critique of globalisation and growth implies the re-regionalisation of the economy with a view to sustainable spatial development. What strategies does this approach require? What are good examples of this?

* Climate change is a global phenomenon. What role do regional strategies really play in climate protection and climate change mitigation?

* What perspectives and approaches are available to overcome the focus on administrative levels? What does re-scaling mean in this context?

We invite contributions from doctoral students whose approaches and empirical analyses demonstrate an interest in:

* comparative (cross-national/cross-regional) studies
* theoretical, conceptual, or methodological advances
* the role of regions in a multilevel governance system
* the role of stakeholders, institutions, and agency
* the role of territorial and social cohesion
* the relationships between regions

Course leader

The event is jointly organized by the ARL, the Ministry of Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development, and the Leibniz Research Centre “TRUST”. Confirmed speakers: Prof. Simin Davoudi, Prof. Anssi Paasi, Prof. Dr. Axel Priebs, Prof. Dr. Sabine

Target group

Doctoral students from all disciplines.

Course aim

The annual summer school is a core element of the ARL’s strategy to promote early career researchers working on spatial issues in a variety of disciplines.

Fee info

EUR 0: There is no participation fee.
EUR 0: There is no participation fee.


The ARL sponsors the accommodation and travel costs of all participants. There is no participation fee. Please see details in the call for applications: