photo by Tim Julijan Holzner

Understanding Europe within its global interconnectedness

The non-consecutive “Studies in European Culture” M.A. degree program is focused on studying the cultural dimensions of Europe and the complex interdependencies between Europe and other regions of the world.

While the program is institutionally based in the Department of Literature, it is designed to be highly interdisciplinary and explicitly integrates other disciplines in addition to the core area of cultural studies. In particular, the fields of historical science and sociology, which are based within the same joint faculty at the University of Konstanz, are heavily integrated. The program is also part of the Center of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration”; indeed, the Center itself initiated the establishment of the degree program in the 2008/09 winter semester. Since 2019, the program cooperates with the new Dr. K. H. Eberle Research Centre "European Cultures in a Multipolar World".

What holds Europe together?
What drives it apart?
How is Europe perceived from the outside?
How does it see itself?

These questions are at the core of the interdisciplinary and research-oriented master's program. But the program is not about an essentialist search for the ‘genuinely’ European, or for the cultural roots of Europe. Instead, it focuses on the construct of Europe within its transnational and transcultural history of interdependence. In addition to analyzing the historical preconditions and current condition of Europe, it is important to reflect on the range of possibilities within which questions about the construction of Europe today are relevant and interesting.

The “Studies in European Culture” master’s program is concerned with the cultural scientific investigation of the European project: its historical origins, ideas, and religious influences, its internal differences and common traditions, its contradictions and ambiguities, its ideological and political expansion, its institutions and cultural conflicts, and its historically variable and constantly debated borders.

The program also assumes that Europe has never been an exclusively European affair. Europe’s cultural dynamics involve colonial and postcolonial interdependencies as well as current migratory movements and intercultural accommodations in the wake of globalization. The program thus places particular emphasis on the interaction between European and global developments.

Film by Anna-Lena Ponath & Francesco Oldenbourg (Bilderburg GmbH)

The concept of culture

Historical and up-to-date

The cultural scientific approach considers both historical and contemporary phenomena and their contexts.

Since the establishment of the “Studies in European Culture” master’s program, Europe has been in a permanent state of crisis. After the financial crisis of 2008, the Greek crisis and Euro crisis were repeatedly topics of debate within the EU. Since 2013, migration from war zones has led to the declaration of a European “refugee crisis”, while forces of nationalism and racism have grown stronger across Europe. The high-point of this disintegration crisis to date was the majority decision in Britain to withdraw from the EU in June 2016. Due to a series of important national elections, the year 2017 was also often described in the press as a “fateful year for Europe”.

In such polarizing times, there is a widespread perception that Europe (as a cultural and geographical entity) and the EU (as an economic and political entity) are increasingly diverging from one another, and that the narrative of European unification is losing its persuasiveness. At the same time, in the face of rising populist leaders, the increasingly dominant security paradigm, and the spread of democratic fatigue, a united Europe is considered by many to be the only stable and forward-looking idea for the future.

Professional fields, qualifications, competencies

Target groups and perspectives

Our students choose the European program because they want to participate in these dynamic developments as critical observers. They acquire cultural, political and social scientific tools of analysis in order to understand the rapidly changing European present. The "Studies in European Culture" program thus provides an interdisciplinary (cultural) theoretical education with practice-relevant links to current events.

The target group for the degree program are highly qualified students from Germany and abroad who would like to scientifically explore the cultural dimensions of Europe and who have completed their first qualifying university course of studies (usually a bachelor's degree). Relevant fields of undergraduate study may include: literature, history, sociology, ethnology, philosophy, cultural studies, anthropology, European and regional studies, etc. Political and legal scholars are also welcome to apply.

The program prepares graduates for a doctoral degree in cultural studies, while at the same time qualifying them for other professional fields in an international context such as work in organizations and NGOs, in the field of cultural exchange, in foundations and publishing houses, as well as in the media and public relations.

Successful accreditation

The Acquin agency accredited the “Studies in European Culture” degree program in the 2008/09 winter semester with no restrictions.

From the accreditation:

“With the “Studies in European Culture” master’s program, the participating faculties have succeeded in designing an attractive and ambitious course of study, which the expert commission has approved without reservation. In accordance with the overall strategy of the University of Konstanz, a research-oriented master's program has been implemented with the highest academic standards and which is at the cutting-edge of current debates on culture and culturalism”.