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Graduate Student Conference

The European Union at a Crossroads: Problems and Prospects
Graduate Student Conference
Sponsored by the Ashburn Institute
Conference dates: September 23-24, 2017
Venue: Trinity College, Oxford, UK
Proposal deadline: June 23, 2017
The Ashburn Institute, an independent NGO committed to the promotion of democracy and international peace, and the Anadolu University, will convene a graduate student conference on the topic of "The European Union at a Crossroads: Problems and Prospects."
Democracies have faced a number of challenges to their political and economic stability. The 2008 financial crisis put a lot of strain on governments forcing them undergo socially painful austerity policies. The anti-austerity protests in Greece have demonstrated that even consolidated democracies are not immune to instability when they face economic or immigration pressures. The refugee crisis revealed vulnerabilities within all eastern and western European democracies, as discourse of xenophobia, bigotry, and racism became a prominent response by radical political parties who are ready to deny refugee rights guaranteed by international agreements. 
These challenges pose important questions about the European Union, the very future of the EU, and transatlantic relations.  We call for papers from graduate students (doctoral and master’s) engaged in research addressing the following subthemes/questions from normative or empirical perspectives: 

  1. The current organizational structure/ decision-making procedure of the EU. How functional is the EU, What can we do about it? The EU law and decision-making process shared by the EU main bodies.
  2. Deepening vs. widening discussion. What is next? Can the EU further deepen the integration process? And / Or which nations should be the next members?
  3. The EU as a “global actor.” Foreign relations of the EU: How common is the CFSP? Can the EU be a strong global actor without a common foreign policy? 
  4. Common Security and Defense Policy of the EU (CSDP): How “common” is the CSDP? What kind of security threats is the EU facing? Specific EU institutions such as the European Defense Agency.  
  5. Specific case studies of the EU in the area of foreign relations, security and defense issues.
  6. Economic and monetary union. The euro-crises; case studies such as Greece.
  7. Brexit discussions (Is EU without England a better union? What will happen to Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland? Will Brexit be an example for other members? Is the UK willing to leave the EU anyway? Is the UK (with opt-outs in areas such as Euro, social policy, Schengen area) a committed member of the EU anyway? What about the British political parties, are they supporting the Brexit?
  8. Theories of Integration: How successful are we to explain the EU integration process? Should we review the basic theoretical assumptions? (Functionalism, Neo-functionalism, Federalism, Eurosceptics, Intergovernmentalism, Institutionalism, supranationality etc).
  9. The EU citizenship: what does it mean anyway?
  10. The refugee crisis: The EU asylum policy; how can the EU handle the crisis; what kind of procedures would be helpful to alleviate the problems; how many refugees are too many; xenophobia, Islamophobia, other phobias; good and practices in the EU members.
  11. The EU visa policies: the Schengen area, The Schengen Agreement and the management of the visa procedure, is the EU building a “fortress Europe”?; specific institutions and mechanisms to monitor the EU borders.
  12. Democratization process within the EU: EU's democratic deficit
  13. Political Parties and the European integration process
  14.  The EU and the international system: Does the EU project ensure peace in Europe? 

The program committee will select approximately 20 papers for inclusion in the conference; about half of the participants will come from the US.  The Ashburn Institute will cover the costs of travel (including international travel) and lodging for all graduate students whose papers are accepted by the Conference Committee. The strongest papers will be selected for inclusion in an edited conference volume.
The conference will consist of two full days of panel sessions on September 23-24, 2017 and will conclude with a keynote address.  Participants should plan to arrive on Friday, September 22 and depart on Monday, September 25. 
About Ashburn Institute
The Ashburn Institute is an independent research and knowledge management institute committed to the study of democracy, international peace, and transatlantic integration. Its history dates back to 1940, when Clarence K. Streit founded a non-profit organization, then called Federal Union, Inc. The inability of international institutions to avoid the World War II urged Streit to publish his book Union Now advocating for the unity of democratic nations that would help prevent military conflicts.
How to Apply
Graduate students from all relevant disciplines are invited to submit paper proposals of approximately 500 words, along with a brief cover letter providing the details of their program of study. Please register online and submit your proposal along with your cover letter via email to Dr. Nejat Dogan ( and Dr. Max Kovalov (
The deadline for submissions is June 23, 2017. International students are encouraged to apply early to expedite the visa application process for UK visas. The United Kingdom is NOT a Schengen-area country.
The conference committee will reach a decision by July 23, 2017. All conference participants will be expected to provide complete papers (7,000-8,000 words) electronically by August 23, 2017. The strongest papers will be selected for inclusion in an edited conference volume upon revisions.
Robert Frantz, Ph.D. (Chairman of the Board, Ashburn Institute)
Nejat Dogan, Ph.D. (Anadolu University; Board Member, Ashburn Institute)
Max Kovalov, Ph.D. (College of Charleston; Board Member, Ashburn Institute)
Mark Kilbane (Graduate student, University of Oxford)  
The conference is co-sponsored by the Ashburn Institute.


Register for the conference now!