Researchers gather in Edinburgh for innovative Horizon2020 proposal

Great Britain went to the polls in May 2019 to elect representatives to the European Parliament, perhaps for the last time. Just one week before the latest in Brexit-related drama, researchers from five European institutions gathered at the University of Edinburgh to reconsider the continent’s identity.

‘The question of the understanding of the European identity is crucial for current political and societal discussions’, said Prof Klaus von Stosch of Paderborn University. ‘Without an appropriate comprehension of the dynamics of the religious and secular influences in Europe, existing dichotomies will be consolidated. These dichotomies can lead to fundamentalist and excluding tendencies in the European society’.

The working group included researchers from the University of Amsterdam, University of Nijmegen, and University of Strasbourg, as well as Paderborn and Edinburgh. The project aims to establish a joint research training programme within the scope of Horizon 2020, the research and innovation framework programme of the European Union.

‘The participants had eager yet fruitful discussions about the research projects that will be part of the Horizon 2020 proposal’, said Prof von Stosch.

Researchers are working to demonstrate how European identity has come to be understood in a series of either-or, all-or-nothing statements. This affects political issues around Brexit, migration, and Christian-Muslim relations. With so many variables – and so much at stake – the researchers are seeking to rethink European identity in a more imaginative way. Collectively, they bring expertise in history, ethics, sociology, philosophy, and theology to the issue.

‘The first steps in the establishment of this training programme have been made’, said Prof von Stosch. ‘We hope to continue the promising work and discussions we had in the wonderful scenery of Edinburgh’.

The group is set to submit their project to the European Union’s Horizon 2020 call for innovative research from the grassroots level. They plan to apply for a grant under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, which seeks to ‘encourage transnational, intersectoral and interdisciplinary mobility’.