Understanding (and using) the European Union: do you want to take a small course with Edgeryders?

Alberto Alemanno is a law professor, specializing in European law. He is also a capable, energetic activist: he invented and grew The Good Lobby. I am honored to call him a friend.

A while back, Alberto prepared an online course to give a high-level description of what the EU is, and how it actually works. This course is now on Coursera, for free (if you want the certificate of completion, you pay 42 EUR). Several of us at Edgeryders have decided to sign up: while we already know much about the EU, we think we could benefit from a systematic framework to hang our specific knowledge to. And Alberto is a rigorous thinker and a clear communicator: no way this course is going to be less than excellent.

@anique.yael, @amelia and I have decided to run a small study group from Edgeryders. This means we will be available to support each other, and anyone else who is also interested in joining, during the four weeks of the course. Something that I would like to think about with you all is this: how can “people on the edge”, we radical ideas about climate change, living together, alternative economies, off-grid living, appropriate tech and so on relate to the EU? Can it be an ally? An enemy? A bit of both? What about member states, and perhaps states in general? I have long had this feeling that states are the enemies of mobile people – could the EU offer partial solutions? What do others think?

Everyone is welcome to join our study group. If you are interested, let me know, and together we will figure out how to proceed. To enroll follow this link.


Interested, yes!

A bit outside of the regular stomping grounds of inquiry for @brooks, but it is an interesting system to study and understand. Interested?

One of the ideas being floated at IETM this weekend is this project: https://europeanbalconyproject.eu/en/
It’s calling for a European Republic and the destruction of the nation state within the Union.
It’s a little half-baked, and the presentation certainly did not go down well with the participants here at this meeting, but it does chime somewhat with what you have outlined above, and points towards other actors who are thinking around these ideas.
Thought i would flag up in case it had passed other by, and also to see what your ‘bullshit attuned senses’ felt towards it

I’m in.
I have suspected for the past few years that the world is in such a gigantic mess that these huge institutions somehow know that they don’t have all the answers and need to look beyond the usual ‘experts’ to get to the heart of things. Thus their interest in fringy but still civilized groups like Edgeryders…

Ok, I have now finished the videos of Week 1 and understand a bit better how this works.

  1. The course is not live. That is, we can still take it, the videos and quizzes are all there, but there is no cohort of students taking it at the same time as us. The forums are empty.

  2. There are two versions: a free one and a paying one (EUR 42). The free one still lets you see all the videos; you can take the quizzes, but you don’t get them graded unless you pay. The paying version issues a certificate. With no access to the teacher and the teaching assistants, these are the only perks offered by the paying version.

I think I will take the free version. This means we can take it at our own pace, but I suggest we still try to keep to the recommended pace of a unit per week. Any discussion we can do among us, on our own forum here, since we are the only students active at the moment!

I finished Week 1. As I imagined, I already knew most of what Alberto had to say in the videos, but a systematic exposure helps me view the European construction with more clarity. Of Week 1, the two most interesting pieces of information are:

  • The history of how the EU was erected, from the Schuman declaration (1950) to the Lisbon Treaty (2009).

  • The institutional architecture (Commission - Parliament - Council - Court of Justice) and the conferral and subsidiarity principles.

What do people think?


I want to get into it - need to learn more.

I am now starting week 2. There is a video you might enjoy more than others, @johncoate: it compares the EU with the USA from an institutional standpoint.

It only takes a couple of hours tops to watch the videos of one week carefully. Definitely a good investment, especially if you know next to nothing about the EU. From zero to knowinh more than 99% of EU citizens…

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I’ll dig in starting on Monday.

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Me too! I just registered and need to catch up!
Thanks for the find, @alberto! <3

.#edgeryders .#education :stuck_out_tongue:

I signed up, watched the first two videos for week 1 and then the rest of the videos are not linked so I can’t watch them. But your link works so I am watching them now.

I am halfway through week 2.

Ah that’s why I couldnt get through Week 2, it’s only a preview because they registered me for the next course starting Dec 3rd… it’s probably because I registered when Week 2 was already on…

Possible. Apparently John’s link works, maybe he can share it?

This is the link you provided that works: https://www.coursera.org/learn/europe/lecture/O0k8q/eu-institutions-the-council-of-the-european-union

Guys, I am now through week 2. In the last lecture of week 2, Alberto introduces lobbying, as well as the idea of citizen lobbying. This might have some importance for us as a community and a company.

I would like to propose a small group discussion, to be had after @anique.yael and I come back from Istanbul, and so during the week beginning December 3rd.

If you have kept up with the course, we will have finished by then (I am running somewhat behind, perhaps half a week). But even if we have not watched all the videos, it will make kit more fun to check in I think. Thoughts? @noemi @johncoate

UPDATE – I made a mistake: the course is actually 6 weeks long, not 4. So, the week starting Dec 3rd is going to be week 5 – the course will not be finished. Still, I stand by my suggestion of a check-in! Happy to organize and host it myself, just let me know which days you CAN’T make. It would be probably at 17.00 Brussels time to accommodate John.

UPDATE 2 – The course gets way more interesting towards the end of week 2, where Alberto starts to give examples of actual EU interventions, directives, decisions of the European Court of Justice etc. I am now halfway through week 3 since I had a bit of extra time this morning.

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I’m going to get back into the videos after the weekend. I watched most of week 1 already.

Incidentally, I learned that the motto of the EU has a Latin version: in varietate concordia. It is way better than the English “united in diversity”. It even means a different thing: concordia means “agreement” or “harmony”, not “unity”.


I just finished Week 2, can one of you send a link to week 3?
I found the more interesting aspect earlier, in the beginning of the course: just how much of being pro EU means believing in the effectiveness of representation and citizen control over how the EU is run. It’s hard not to be skeptic about these things, so I’m looking forward to see this argument unfolding - as that is probably a specialty of Allemanno’s.

A checkin on early Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon would work for me. say 4:30 PM Brussels time?

Otherwise, Monday and Wednesdays are hard for me.

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I have watched all week 1 and 2 videos, though I would probably have to watch them again to get all the details.

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