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Linking Research and Training in Internationalization of Teacher Education with the PEERS Program: Issues, Case Studies and Perspectives

Edited By Jean-Luc Gilles

The PEERS program proposes international exchanges adapted to the context of teacher training institutions wishing to take advantage of internationalization in order to link training, research, and practice. PEERS is based on the completion of Research and Innovation (R&I) projects during the academic year, during which international groups of professors and students from teacher training partner institutions collaborate remotely as well as during two placements of one week. For the students, the PEERS program aims to develop competencies in distance collaboration with the help of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the management of intercultural groups, and the continuous improvement of their activities through reflective thinking and the spirit of research. For the professors the PEERS program aims to better link research and training, to reinforce their skills in the management of international research projects and to foster opportunities for international publications.

The aim of this collective book is to give an overview of the Issues, case studies and perspectives of the PEERS program. The first section entitled "Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges for the Internationalization of Teacher Training in a Globalized, Multicultural, and Connected World", focuses on the foundations and general features of PEERS projects, as well as the context of globalization in the intercultural and connected world in which it is situated.

The second section, "Case Studies and Lessons Learned from the PEERS Project in Southern Countries" constitutes a series of chapters presenting case studies on PEERS projects focused on innovation and cooperation in the developing world. The third section, "Results of Research-Oriented PEERS Projects," considers the results from PEERS projects that have enabled the implementation of theoretical and practical educational research, generally taking the form of small-case research studies or innovations in the design of teaching units. Finally, in the conclusion we propose to present the key points of the three sections that make up this book "Linking Research and Training in Internationalization of Teacher Education with the PEERS Program: Issues, Case Studies and Perspectives".

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Chapter 2: The Building of Europe: A Humanist Undertaking (Gilles Grin)

Gilles Grin

Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe, Lausanne, and University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Chapter 2: The Building of Europe: A Humanist Undertaking


The aim of this chapter is to outline the ways in which the building of Europe has been a profoundly humanist undertaking. We start by describing the extremely difficult situation in Europe in 1950, and then go on to analyze the historic significance of the Monnet-Schuman Declaration, which led to the launch of the European Community in 1952. We give a general summary of how the building of Europe unfolded, showing the degree to which respect for Member States is a cardinal principle of this process and underlining how it gave citizens their freedom. We then take a look at the more specific areas of education, research, and innovation, linking them with the HEP Vaud PEERS program. We end by identifying the major challenges facing the people of Europe.

1. The Situation in Europe in 1950

Until the mid-20th century, war was a major defining factor in Europe. The continent had only seen two periods of prolonged peace between the major powers since the beginning of the 16th century – the first between 1815 and 1854 and the second between 1871 and 1914. The two World Wars that ravaged Europe and the rest of the world in the first half of the 20th century led to the deaths of 70 to 80 million people and left countless wounded. War is also synonymous with the destruction of infrastructure, economic barriers, ruin, the disintegration of the social fabric, the rise←49 | 50→ to power of tyrannical regimes, and moral scars. This led the writer Paul Valéry to declare: “We later civilizations […] we too now know that we are mortal.” And this was written even before Auschwitz and Hiroshima left their indelible mark.

The risk of war and awareness of this were particularly pronounced in the spring of 1950, and indeed the Korean War was to begin at the end of June. When the Second World War ended and the Cold War began, mainland Europe had been divided and had lost power over its destiny. The United States and the Soviet Union had taken charge of Europe and a large proportion of the rest of the world.

Now under U.S. protection, Western Europe had to contend with different models for structuring international relations. First, there was the hegemonic model. Historically speaking, attempts by one European power to obtain hegemony over all the others had led to wars and had never ended in success. The reason for this is easy to understand: this type of system would only satisfy the potential hegemon. We could say that a kind of hegemony was exercised by the United States after 1945. Then came the balance of powers model – but changing coalitions rendered this unstable, ultimately ending in war. The leadership model, where the major powers shared leadership, was hard to sustain over the long term and was particularly unfair to small nations. The confederate model, enabling nations to retain a right of veto with regard to joint decisions, appeared too weak to address any issues other than technical ones. And finally the federal model, characterized by the delegation of sovereignty to joint institutions and the advent of supranational law, was difficult to reconcile with the resilience of national sovereignty.

The experience of the mid-to-late 1940s had proved the impossibility of launching any overall federal initiative across Western Europe. We need only think of the discussions that took place around the creation of the Council of Europe. At the time, Germany was still a source of great mistrust for its neighbors. The disastrous precedent of the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 resulted from that same mistrust of the great power of Central Europe.←50 | 51→

2. Historic Significance of the Declaration of May 9, 1950

Acting in his personal capacity, the Frenchman Jean Monnet, assisted by a number of colleagues and taking just 5 weeks, devised a plan of historical importance in the spring of 1950. His project gained the political support of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Robert Schuman, and then the French government. He obtained the agreement of the young Federal Republic of Germany and the allies of France. The Declaration was made public on May 9, 1950.

Here are some selected excerpts from the Declaration:

Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany […]

The French Government proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe […]

By pooling basic production and by instituting a new High Authority, whose decisions will bind France, Germany and other member countries, this proposal will lead to the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European Federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.

The Monnet-Schuman plan retained the federal organization model, but based on a progressive approach. It involved starting the process of integration via two key sectors of the economy at the time – coal and steel – which were at the heart of the countries’ war effort. The European Federation stood for the vision, whereas the path taken involved a progressive and realistic approach that would create a new dynamic between nations. The law, the creation of common institutions, and a partial sharing of national sovereignty were important here. The plan was unique and the implementation of the Declaration led to the birth of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1952.←51 | 52→

3. How the Building of Europe Unfolded

Launched in the autumn of 1950 to combat the persistent problem of the rearmament of Germany in a Cold War that had become a major threat, the plan for a European Defense Community (EDC) was crushed by a vote of the French National Assembly in 1954. This vote was evidence of the high level of sensitivity of national sovereignty. Safety and defense issues would therefore come under national and transatlantic rather than European jurisdiction.

The revival following the failure of the EDC led to the two Treaties of Rome, signed in 1957, prolonging a sectoral Europe with the Euratom Treaty and the plan to create a European Economic Community with a customs union; free internal movement of goods, services, people, and capital; and a common trade, competition, and agricultural policy.

Over the decades, development in Europe has been shaped by a series of crises and recoveries. With the Treaties of Rome, there was a noticeable weakening of the method of integration, entailing a distancing from federalism and accommodating the resilience of national sovereignty. There were various geographical expansions, bringing the number of Member States from six in the beginning to today’s 28, 19 of which are in the Euro zone.

Integration deepened with the change from Common Market to single market; the development of common policies; the creation of the Euro and an area of freedom, security and justice, and the development of common economic governance. The communities evolved into the European Union (EU), which was born in 1993, demonstrating that there is an increasingly powerful political dimension to the new facets of the European project.

Nor should we ignore the existence of European organizations other than the EU – the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in particular. These complement the institutional architecture of Europe and are important, particularly because they form a link with Russia.←52 | 53→

4. Respect for Member States

The Community method involves the Member States delegating part of their sovereignty to common institutions: the Council, European Parliament, Commission, and Court of Justice. The management of monetary policy has been federalized across 19 of the 28 Union Member States, and the European Central Bank is in charge of policy. Beyond the Community method, intergovernmental practice prevails within the EU in sensitive areas of foreign and security policy. Taxation and social policy remain governed by the unanimity rule.

European treaties may only be amended if there is unanimity between Member States. There is a political culture of entente in the sense that the exercise of power is widely consensual – it is not the norm for Member States to vote at the Council and even less so at the European Council, and that there is a sort of “grand coalition” at the European Parliament and the European Commission. Legislative processes do not move quickly. Consensus is sought through long consultation procedures, and the work of institutions takes time. Differentiated integration has also been observed over the last 20 years or so. A State that wishes to move forward at a slower rate than the others, or that is not in favor of a new development, can negotiate a special status from within the Union.

5. Freedoms for the Citizens of Europe

The cornerstone of the free movement of people was laid in the treaties of the 1950s relating to employed and self-employed workers. In 1990, this was extended to citizens who are not economic agents (young, retired persons, and economically inactive people). The first step in the abolition of internal borders was taken with the Single Market program, coming to fruition at the end of 1992. This was followed by the creation of the Schengen Area. European citizenship was established by the Maastricht←53 | 54→ Treaty in 1993. The Charter of Fundamental Rights became part of the Union’s legal framework in 2009. It promotes rights relating to Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizenship, and Justice.

6. Education, Research, and Innovation

Subsidiarity prevails, in the sense that the EU only works alongside States if it can bring added value. In such matters its skills are only employed where they can be shared or provided as a support for Member States. EU involvement in the fields of education, research, and innovation can contribute to the strengthening of a common identity as well as to the competitiveness and well-being of Europeans.

Horizon 2020 is the eighth EU multiyear framework program in research and innovation, covering the period 2014–20. The first was launched in 1984. The EU will be investing around 80 billion Euros during the period 2014–20. The fundamental areas of the program are scientific excellence, the prime importance of industry, and social challenges. Established in 2007, the European Research Council finances exploratory research. Social issues, such as health, the environment, transport, and security are to be the subject of interdisciplinary research work. Following a vote on February 9, 2014, Switzerland only had a partial and temporary involvement in the Horizon 2020 program. It has regained full association in 2017.

Erasmus+ is the EU education program. It is a mobility program dating back to 1987 and is very important for generations of students, 3 million of them having benefited from it since its inception. The program has around 15 billion Euros in funding for the period 2014–20. Three key initiatives have been established: mobility for learning, cooperation and partnership, and policy reform. The Swiss-European Mobility Programme (SEMP) is the Swiss program, which, due to the consequences of the vote of February 9, 2014, replaces the country’s←54 | 55→ direct involvement in Erasmus+, making it possible to finance exchanges through agreements with partner institutions.

The HEP Vaud PEERS program is a mobility program of a particular kind. It enhances European and international mobility in an easily implementable and cheap way. HEP Vaud created it specifically to meet its requirements as a teacher training institution aiming for international reach and academic status. PEERS projects allow teachers to bind training and research, to manage international scientific projects, and to publish professional literature. As for the students, they can develop their intercultural competences, use the new information and communication technologies, as well as enhance their skills through a deeper thinking and research spirit.

7. Major Challenges

The PEERS program has a direct influence on involved teachers and students. But the influence of the program is much wider as it creates European and international collaboration networks, brings contributions to research and the creation of knowledge and, in the end, has transformative effects through the impact on pupils. As we know, these pupils will be the citizens of tomorrow. The more citizens can understand complexity and evolve in a world characterized by rapid transformations on a global scope, the more they will have a chance to pass sound judgment on the major challenges linked to the building of Europe.

We identify these challenges as follows:

The issue of identity. The redevelopment of a certain national identity has been observed across the continent. But European identity was never meant to replace national identities. Could a European identity develop over the long term?←55 | 56→

Sovereignty. To an increasing degree, the choice is not about the exercise of sovereignty at national or European level but about the possibility to exercise sovereignty through politics. How do we make the issue available and understandable to citizens?

Economic success. Even if economic studies reveal the economic benefits of long-term integration, some economies emerged totally run down from the crisis that started in 2008. Unemployment is Europe’s big problem, especially amongst young people. How do we ensure that they are not a lost generation?

Solidarity. There is increased solidarity at European level, but is this enough? Where do we mark the boundary between Member State responsibility and overall solidarity?

Banish war from the European mainland and meet global challenges. The EU has banished war between Member States but, over time, there is a tendency to forget the fundamental achievement that has been the building of Europe. War and the Hobbesian view of the world continue to stalk the borders of the EU. Will Europeans be able to stand up to major global challenges? Will they keep control of their destiny in a world where they are becoming less and less important, and even marginal?

Explain the building of Europe: a wonderful plan for civilization that changed the face of Europe. Like every human plan, implementing it is naturally an imperfect enterprise, and an even greater degree of transnational democracy is required. It is quite normal for it to be subject to criticism. Citizens need to make it their own in order to improve it. To achieve this, we need to make them aware of that fact.←56 | 57→