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“Why Bother?” Learning and Teaching About European Union Politics

Teaching the EU: Fostering Knowledge and Understanding in the Brexit Age

ISBN: 978-1-80043-275-8, eISBN: 978-1-80043-274-1

Publication date: 13 May 2021

Abstract

This chapter explores the specificities of learning and teaching on European Union politics, in the context of higher education, and in particular to students who are not graduating in politics or international relations. It is the author’s contention that a core issue to tackle is motivation, that is, the answer to the question: “What is it that makes a student, probably a young person, want to learn about politics?” and, if the teaching–learning activity occurs in a context where the course is compulsory and motivation scarce, then “How to reach the student, in order to raise his/her interest on the topic?” The deep roots of the answers to these questions lie in issues of political socialization, political culture and democratic participation. Where such culture is already embedded, class work can be based mostly on tackling up-to-date topics of public discussion, and in the reinforcement of framework knowledge. However, when politics is not a topic perceived as relevant by the students, raising their awareness becomes the first task. This chapter describes teaching strategies that can act as triggers for involving students in debates on politics and for increasing their curiosity on issues concerning the European Union. In times of Brexit and multiple crises, this may become a tricky process, since a lot of information is available in the public space, but a substantial part of it is negative on the EU itself. Furthermore, in a context of ever-growing technological sophistication, the abundance of new tools also requires from the teacher new skills to reach the students. This chapter is constructed with reference to the relevant literature and on the basis of the author’s own teaching experience and ends with a reflection on the possibility of teaching a democratic political culture, notably on the matter of the European Union.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

The title and contents of this chapter depart from a workshop presented at the UACES 48th annual conference, Bath, 2018, in the framework of the Teaching and Learning Workshop. The author would like to thank UACES for the opportunity and all the participants for the suggestions, questions and lively debate.

Citation

Ramos, C.T. (2021), "“Why Bother?” Learning and Teaching About European Union Politics", Visvizi, A., Field, M. and Pachocka, M. (Ed.) Teaching the EU: Fostering Knowledge and Understanding in the Brexit Age (Emerald Studies in Higher Education, Innovation and Technology), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 15-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80043-274-120211002

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Cláudia Toriz Ramos