About the project

About the project

The European Union is a con-federal union of sovereign states, with a strong economic focus, that includes 28 member states and a combined population of over 500 million people. The origins and aims of the EU are quite clear: to create an ever closer union, and to avoid the conflicts that devastated Europe during the preceding decades. To date the EU has been successful in these aims. The traditional enmity between states has been replaced by a strong set of interrelated social, political and economic relationships.
Since the 1950s the EU has consistently grown in both size and operating remit, with the 1993 Maastricht Treaty establishing the current EU and creating a common citizenship. The closer themes of Union were further developed in the early days of the 21st Century, with a proposed constitution.

However, it seems that the EU, this experiment in Europe, is under challenge with several members wishing to see the membership changed or to alter the pace and focus of the changes that the EU is causing/requiring among member states. Cries of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘identity’ are raised with terms like the ‘nation’, ‘our people’ and ‘us’ and ‘them’ being employed to challenge the idea of a greater Union. Furthermore, many member states have witnessed the rise of anti EU political parties, who seek removal of their member state from the experiment.

The lack of development of a sense of European-ness among many member states is clearly reflected in research conducted throughout Europe (Leith and Soule, 2012; Leith and Sim, 2015; Sim and Leith, 2014). It appears that identity remains rooted in the national rather than the European, and the European Experiment is under challenge as a result. As the EU itself states “there is a need to deepen further the discussion on the future of Europe on what kind of Europe citizens want, also stimulating new forms of civic participation whilst reinforcing those existing” (EU DG 2015).

In an age of uncertainty about Europe there is a need to increase civic and intercultural understanding. Since young people will play a key role in the determining the future of Europe, it is especially important to find out what they think and how they can work together. There is increasing recognition of the role and impact of identity and values on the problems that are leading to this state of uncertainty in Europe. However there is much confusion in our thinking about identities.

The aim of the current project is to design, develop and evaluate an innovative game-based approach that will support young people in exploring national and European identity and values and the impact that these have on tackling the problems and making the decisions that are important to young Europeans in a way that they can understand and relate to. The game has an educational dimension in providing opportunities for young Europeans to extend and test their knowledge of Europe and European customs, values and traditions in a fun and engaging way but also to solve challenging problems surrounding issues which are rooted in notions of identity. The game also has a social dimension that requires players to collaborate in tackling the problem solving and decision making scenarios in order to successfully complete these. As “digital natives” who have been brought up with digital technology, young people will find a game-based approach to exploring their identity and values highly attractive (Prensky, 2001).

3 main groups of Higher Education students will be targeted by the game. The first group is Social Science and Business students across Europe for whom the game will provide a novel approach to studying, what for them, are core curricular issues. Erasmus students will also take part as it seems likely that this group of students may have more positive views about Europe. The game will help these students to maximise their experiences of studying abroad by developing a better understanding of issues related to national and European identity. Another group of students who would benefit from the game are students who, for a number of different reasons, want to but cannot take part in the Erasmus mobility scheme. The game could help to provide these students with some of the benefits of Erasmus by helping them develop a network of European contacts. These 3 groups of students will provide interesting contrasts with respect to National and European identity.
Since the game aims to support students across Europe in exploring issues related to European identity, this strategic partnership project needs to be carried out transnationally.

Contact person: Elizabeth A. Boyle

Project duration: October 2017 – October 2019