BENEFITS, IDENTITY AND VALUES. DISCUSSING THE PERCEPTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS ABOUT BEING PART OF EUROPE
University Coimbra (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Over the years, the European Union (EU) has steadily tried to forge a European identity. However, recent events started to cast doubts on what bonds these countries together, namely the recent wave of crises that hit the EU, the growth of nationalist movements, Brexit, and the spreading of disinformation. In several member States, major debates regarding what it means to be European are erupting, while casting doubts on the “utility” of the European project. The integration of the “other” and the support to southern economies have also raised the debate on EU core values such as humanism and solidarity. The EU has been working on rekindle the bond with European citizens with a particular emphasis on youth, whose levels of civic and political participation are alarming. But, how successful has been the EU’s course of action? Building on the concept of European identity (and the values associated to it), this exploratory study aims to answer two main research questions: do higher education students perceive themselves as Europeans? Do they share the EU core values? With this purpose in mind, we conducted focus groups with students (N=15) from five European countries that were studying in a mobility program in Portugal. Our findings suggest that there is a weak connection with a European identity, although there is some proximity to European values. Students reveal scarce interest and knowledge about European issues, organization and current affairs.
Keywords: Europe, identity, higher education.