Research into the European Union (Issue 36, 2010)


Dr Stefan Auer

La Trobe has become the third Australian university to be awarded the European Union’s prestigious Jean Monnet Chair for high-level education and research about Europe, Australia's largest single economic partner for more than quarter of a century.

The Chair, valued at around $90 000, will be held for three years by Dr Stefan Auer, senior lecturer in History and Politics and Director of La Trobe’s Innovative Universities European Union (IUEU) Centre.

It will boost La Trobe’s national leadership in teaching programs about the European Union. Since 2007 the University has delivered these programs to more than 1600 students on its Victorian campuses and via an interstate network of seven universities.

The award also cements Victoria’s place as the Australian home of EU studies in general. (The two other Monnet chairs are at Monash University and the University of Melbourne.)

Launched in 1989, the Jean Monnet program – named after the chief architect of what is now the EU – operates in 740 universities in 62 countries.

Dr Auer says he aims to significantly increase opportunities for Australian students to learn more about Europe and raise the EU’s profile in the community more generally.

The funds will allow him to combine tertiary teaching and research with multimedia community outreach via DVDs and an interactive e-book, and the placement on iTunes of his lectures and interviews with key EU figures.

He will also launch a series of workshops on EU studies for secondary school teachers.

Dr Auer says the La Trobe course examines the history of the EU through its predecessor organisations and key treaties, the turbulent post-war history of Central Europe, the emergence and demise of communism, and the issues, people and ideas that have shaped modern Europe.

Dr Auer has written extensively on Europe’s transformation and lectured widely throughout Europe. His book 'Liberal Nationalism in Central Europe' challenges misconceptions about the role of nationalism in post-communist democratisation and its impact on European integration and won the University Association for Contemporary European Studies prize for the best book in European studies in 2005.