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The ERASMUS Phenomenon – Symbol of a New European Generation?


Edited By Benjamin Feyen and Ewa Krzaklewska

In 2012, the ERASMUS programme celebrated its 25 th anniversary. As one of the best-known initiatives of the EU, it has already enabled almost three million students to spend a part of their studies abroad. But ERASMUS is more than just a simple academic exchange programme: designed to contribute to the creation of a «People’s Europe», it has become a successful political instrument for shaping generations of European students. This interdisciplinary volume attempts to explain the fascination behind ERASMUS. The authors examine the role of student mobility within the European integration process and judge its impact on how young citizens identify with Europe. Is there a «Generation ERASMUS», and what characteristics does it have? Can ERASMUS serve as a symbol for «new» Europeans?


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‘Generation ERASMUS’ – The New Europeans? A Reflection: Benjamin Feyen and Ewa Krzaklewska


229 ‘Generation ERASMUS’ – The New Europeans? A Reflection Benjamin Feyen and Ewa Krzaklewska Introduction In the media and literature as well as in the academic world, the term ‘Genera- tion ERASMUS’ has appeared repeatedly (e.g. Picht 2004; DAAD 2007; Cappè 2010; Wilson 2011), by now reaping several thousand hits when searched online. But, ‘generation’ as an attractive concept more often marks important societal or cultural trends, rather than analytically describing the actual generational experi- ences. The same has been happening to the idea of a ‘Generation ERASMUS’. While the term itself can be regarded as already quite established in the public perception, it has hardly ever been specified by providing a deeper understand- ing of a concept. Therefore more reflection is needed on the experiences of those who are said to be representing this generation of young people. This leads us back to the main questions from the introduction to this book: Does ERASMUS represent a new generation of Europeans, symbolising their specific experiences, values and common challenges? How can a ‘Generation ERASMUS’ be defined, and who is part of it? In this reflection, based on the articles from this book, we will analytically approach the ERASMUS programme1 as such, as well as certain developments connected to and influenced by it, in order to describe what we decided to call the “ERASMUS Phenomenon” in the title of this book. Firstly, we would like to dis- cuss specific societal trends that build the context of the development and growth of today’s...

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