Brexit, EU and Global World: Current Challenges in European Politics and Society

Universidad Pompeu Fabra

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Brexit, EU and Global World: Current Challenges in European Politics and Society

  • Host University

    Universidad Pompeu Fabra

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study

    International Relations, International Studies, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description

    These last years have definitely helped in modifying the order of priorities in global agendas. Green and digital transitions, rising populisms and increasing inequalities, the recovery from Covid-19 pandemic are among the most urgent issues. The explosion of the COVID-19 in March 2020 - and its abrupt diffusion all across the globe – for example, demonstrated the urgent need for improving global governance mechanisms and coordination among governments. The opportunity is now upon policy-makers and stakeholders to make the aftermath of the pandemic a reformation and transformative moment for a new kind of public policies and politics.

    This course aims at providing a critical overview on the current challenges that national democracies will have to face in the next years. Social inequalities, global pandemic, gender equality, migrations, climate change and sustainability, the rise of nationalism(s) and populism(s) are some of these tremendous challenges. How can national governments (and cities) provide adequate answers and effective policies to citizens? How have Covid-19 crisis impacted on already existing strategies and global Agenda (Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda)? How does globalization affect public policies and what can governments do?

    By applying a plural and interdisciplinary approach, the course combines analytical tools and categories stemming from political science, international relations, economics, European Integration studies, public policies and development economics. The course focusses on the analysis and the understanding of how political and societal actors do play a role in the definition and implementation of public policies. By providing critical tools for understanding complex phenomena (such as the European integration process, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the challenges of global governance, etc…) the course aims at preparing students as informed citizens and lifelong learners who care and act for the future of the planet and humanity.

    Learning Objectives 

    At the end of the course, the student:

    • will have acquired survey knowledge of the main aspects of policy making and politics in Europe and Spain
    • will have received an introduction to the basic elements of the European Union, the Spanish political system, Spanish public attitude and public policies
    • will be familiar with the key issues that national states and contemporary society will face in the next years
    • will have improved their knowledge regarding the multidimensional impact of the COVID-19 crisis on citizens’ well-being
    • will have improved their knowledge regarding the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    Course Workload

    The format of the course will be based around weekly formats. Each week will present a coherent set topic with prescribed readings. Lecture format will be integrated with slides, active use of Internet web pages, student presentations, work groups, special activities, seminars, and round tables. Since the relevance of our topics on mass media, video and press releases, all these materials will be widely used.

    The workload of the course rests on the assigned readings that students are expected to complete prior to coming to class and to contribute to discussion during seminars. That is, during lectures, I will pose questions to encourage students´ participation and developing critical thinking. Students are expected to actively participate along the course with exercise, in-group activities, oral presentations and debates. Finally, they will have to make a home midterm exam and also home final exam.

    Methods of Instruction

    By applying innovative, transformative and active learning methodologies (blended learning, flipped classroom, role play and open debates) the course can be considered as student-centered and student-empowering.

    The course aims at encompassing a number of different teaching approaches all of which shift the focus from the teacher delivering course content to the student actively engaged with the course content. The main goal consists in allowing students to purposefully interact with course content while in online sessions as well as interact with each other in structured learning activities.

    Some examples of active learning formats that will be employed in the course will include:

    • Focused writing assignments to check understanding of course content (5- Minute Paper).
    • Creating an individual summary about a topic, discussing it with a partner, then sharing the pair’s discussion with the whole class (Think-Pair-Share).
    • Small group exercises where students apply course content to a real-world situation and work toward a solution (Case-based Learning).
    •  Virtual platform such as Moodle.
    • Twitter and other social media that can contributed to keep the students’ attention and interest alive also outside the classroom.
    • Flipped classroom methodologies in which students get the input they would traditionally receive from the lecture or lesson in the form of videos or set texts that they study before class.
    • Self-blend – Students choose to augment their traditional learning with online course work.

    In addition, we will make some selected field studies during the course aimed at visiting the most relevant international and national organization here in Barcelona such as the Parliament of Catalonia and the representation of the institutions of the European Union in Barcelona.

    Methods of Assessment 

    • 10% Class Participation
    • 30% Problem Based Methodology and Presentations
    • 30% Midterm Exam
    • 30% Final Exam

    Absence Policy

    Attending class is mandatory and will be monitored daily by professors. The impact of absences on the final grade is as follows:

    • Up to two (2) absences - No penalization
    • Three (3) absences - 1 point subtracted from final grade (on a 10 point scale)
    • Four (4) absences - 2 points subtracted from final grade (on a 10 point scale)
    • Five (5) absences or more -  The student receives an INCOMPLETE for the course 

    The BISS attendance policy does not distinguish between justified or unjustified absences. The student is deemed responsible to manage his/her absences.

    Emergency situations (hospitalization, family emergency, etc.) will be analyzed on a case by case basis by the Academic Director of the UPF Summer School.

    Classroom Norms

    • No food or drink is permitted.
    • There will be a ten-minute break during the class.
    • Students must come to class fully prepared

    Course Contents 

    *according to students’ interests and backgrounds we will select some of the bibliographical materials presented here. The workload and mandatory readings will be defined at the beginning of the course together with the class.

    Session 1 The 2030 Agenda: an Introduction.
    Syllabus, contents, assessment and methodology.
    Introduction to the current debates on globalization, global governance and sustainability.

    Session 2 Defining Globalization
    What is really globalization about?
    Do we really live in a global village?

    Session 3 Globalization era(s): since 1945 to 2020
    Democracy, national self-determination and globalization
    Dani Rodrik’s Trilemma
    The Washington consensus revisited

    Session 4 Poverty, Social Exclusion and Inequalities. A gender perspective.
    Extreme, moderate, absolute and relative poverty
    Types of inequalities
    Being at risk of social exclusion
    Gender Inequality

    Session 5 The Winners and Losers of Globalization
    World Income Distribution 1988-2008: winners and losers of globalization
    Middle class(es) versus Top 1%

    Session 6 The process of European Integration: why the EU?
    The drivers of the process of integration
    Peace and economic interdependence
    Common values and identities across Europe

    Session 7 The institutional triangle of the EU
    The institutional design of the European Union
    The policy-making
    The EU public policies

    Session 8 Joining or leaving the EU: Brexit and Enlargement
    To what extent can the EU be enlarged?
    The EU and its neighborhood (The case of Ukraine)
    Brexit and the new relation between the EU and UK

    Session 9 Populisms in Europe: a threaten to liberal democracies?
    Defining populism(s)
    Populist parties in Europe
    Populism, nationalisms and liberal democracies

    Session 11 Introducing Spain
    Spain in the world: economic and political relevance
    Democratic transition
    Public attitudes and values of the Spanish Society today

    Session 12 Basics Facts of the Spanish Political System and Spanish Society
    A parliamentary monarchy
    The fragmentation of the political scenario: traditional versus new parties
    Populisms in Spain

    Session 13 Field trip to the Parliament of Catalonia (to be confirmed)

    Session 14 Catalonia and Spain
    Spain as pluri-national state
    Stateless nations
    The secessionist movement in Catalonia (2012-2022)

    Session 15 Barcelona and the paradigm of a smart city
    Barcelona and the networks of cities in global governance
    The paradigm of a smart cities
    Circular economy and decoupling at the local scale


    Session 16 Introduction and guidelines to Problem-Based Learning

    Session 17 Methodological session for Problem-Based Learning

    Session 18 Oral presentations

    Session 19 Oral presentations II

    Session 20 Final Exam (MCT) and closure of the course

    Required Readings 

    The professor will assemble a coursepack/or indicate mandatory textbooks. The professor will assemble a course pack/or indicate mandatory textbooks. The majorities pf readings will be however available through the Moodle class (only those available in open access).

    Recommended bibliography 
    Students are encouraged to consult the following sources on their own.

    Rodrik, D. 2011, The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of theWorld Economy, (only the Introduction and Chapter 1), NY: W. W. Nortons

    Stiglitz, J. 2012, The price of inequality, Taurus, Madrid (only the Introduction)

    Stiglitz, J. 2006, Making Globalization Work, Taurus, (Chapter 1: Another World is Possible)

    Krugman, P. 2004 Internationalism modern criticizes Barcelona, Pocket Library (Chapter 1: Competitiveness: a dangerous obsession, Chapter 7: What students should learn about international trade)

    European Commission, 2011, Trade, Growth and World Affairs: Trade Policy as a Core Component of the EU's 2020 Strategy, DG Trade, Brussels

    Rodrik, D., 2010, Diagnostic before Prescription, in Journal of Economic Perspective, Volume 24, N. 3, pg.33-44 Development, Working Paper 177, September.

    Jeffrey Sachs, 2005, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, New York: The Penguin Press (Introduction)

    Paul Collier, 2007, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, Oxford University Press, (Introduction)

    William Easterly, 2006, The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, New York: The Penguin Press (Introduction)

    Esther Barbé, 2010, (Ed.) The European Union beyond its borders Towards the Transformation of the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe?, Madrid: Tecnos, pp. 109-131.

    Enlargement in the evolution of the EU - Speech by EU Commissioner Rehn (20 January 2006: London) available at

    Krugman, Paul – International Economics: Theory and Policy, Addison-Wesley, 2009

    Keohane and Nye (2000), What´s New? What´s Not? Foreign Policy Vol. 118 (1).

    Rodrik, D., 2010, Diagnostic before Prescription, in Journal of Economic 10 Perspective, Volume 24, N. 3, pg.33-44 Development, Working Paper 177, September.

    Hausmann, Ricardo, Dani Rodrik, and Andres Velasco. 2008. “Growth Diagnostics.” Chap. 15 in The Washington Consensus Reconsidered: Towards a New Global Governance, ed. J. Stiglitz and N. Serra. New York: Oxford University Press.

    PRESTON, Paul, 1987, The Triumph of Democracy in Spain, pp. 1-52.

    NORTH, D., 1990, ´An Introduction to Institutions and Institutional Change`, in Institutions and Institutional Change and Economic Performance, pp. 3-10.

    PRZEWORSKI, A., Michael ALVAREZ, José Antonio CHEIBUB and Fernando LIMONGI, 1996, "What Makes Democracies Endure?" Journal of Democracy, 7 (1): 39-55.

    PRESTON, Paul., 1987, The Triumph of Democracy in Spain, pp. 53-121.

    MARAVALL, José María and Julián SANTAMARIA, 1986, "Political Change in Spain and the Prospects for Democracy." In: O´Donnell, Schmitter and Whitehead, Transitions form Authoritarian Rule, pp. 71-108.

    LINZ, J., 1996, ´The Virtues of Parliamentarism` in The Global Resurgence of Democracy, pp. 154-161.

    HEYWOOD, P., 1995, ´Central Government, Monarchy, Core Executive and Parliament`, en The Government and Politics of Spain, Macmillan Press, pp. 83- 102.

    LIJPHART, A., 1999, Patterns of democracy: government forms and performance in thirty-six countries, Yale University Press, pp. 185-199.

    GALLAGHER, M., M. LAVER and P. MAIR. 2006, ´Party politics and party systems in Europe`, in Representative Government in Modern Europe, pp. 187-227.

    MÚJICA, A.; SÁNCHEZ-CUENCA, I. 2006, "Consensus and Parliamentary Opposition: The Case of Spain". Government and Opposition 41 (1): 86-108.

    GUNTHER, R., J.R. MONTERO, and J.I. WERT, 2000, ´The Media and Politics in Spain: From Dictatorship to Democracy`, in R. Gunther y A. Mughan (eds.),

    Democracy and the Media: A Comparative Perspective. Cambridge University Press, pp. 28-84.

    LIJPHART, A. 1990, The Political consequences of electoral laws, American Political Science Review 84 (2): 481-496.

    MONTERO, JR., and Mariano TORCAL, 1990, "Voters and Citizens in a New Democracy. Some Trend Data on Political Attitudes in Spain," International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 2 (2): 116-40.

    COLOMER, JM., 2001, Political Institutions. Democracy and Social Choice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, chapter 1, pp. 1-17.

Course Disclaimer

Please note that there are no beginning level Spanish courses offered in this program.

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.


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