Situated within the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, the Centre for European Studies is a multi-disciplinary department which aims to promote teaching, research, and outreach activities that improve the understanding of Europe and Indo-European affairs.
This is one of the new Centers in the School of International Studies which became functional in 2005. The Centre is an outcome of the larger restructuring exercise initiated by the School in 2004. The Centre has come into existence as a result of the merger of the West European division of the erstwhile Centre for American & West European Studies as well as East European division of the erstwhile Centre for Russian, Central Asian and East European Studies. In the context of the swift developments like collapse of the socialist system in Eastern Europe and the ongoing processes of European integration it became obvious that there was no longer any compelling reason to study parts of Europe separately.
Although the Centre is new, it draws on the expertise of very experienced faculty. The West European Studies programme at the School of International Studies was one of the oldest centres in Asia which offered advanced teaching and research programme on contemporary Europe. Prof. Girija K. Mookerjee founded the European Studies programme as part of the Department of International Politics and Organization at the Indian School of International Studies (ISIS) in 1964. He also founded the programme at Jawaharlal Nehru University when the ISIS merged with it in 1971 and West European Studies acquired the status of an autonomous programme in the CAWES.
Similarly, the programme of East European studies had been in existence for over four decades in the School. With changing geo-political realities, this programme had worked within the framework of four different nomenclatures. During the late fifties and sixties it was a part of the International Politics and Commonwealth Studies Programme at the ISIS. In the late sixties it became part of Centre for Russian and East European Studies. In 1975 it started working within the larger Centre called Centre for Soviet and East European Studies. From Soviet disintegration to the latest restructuring, it functioned within the Centre for Russian, Central Asian and East European Studies. The division has seen its role changing from studying Eastern European countries under the socialist system to understanding radical economic and political transformations of the region towards democratic societies and market economies.
To accomplish its present mission, the Centre is in the process of developing new courses both on Europe and on the European Union. At M. Phil level new courses on European economic integration, European security, EU in world politics, identity issues in Europe and politics and society in Central and Eastern Europe, etc. are already being offered to the students. Besides, recognizing the need for language proficiency in area studies programmes, the Centre is offering a compulsory course in German language spread over two semesters. It is being planned to introduce another language course in French in due course of time. Another compulsory course being offered by the Centre is on research methodology. The faculty members of the Centre also participate in the running of the M. A. programme of the School. At M.A level they offer courses on European Union, German foreign policy and political system in select East European countries. The Centre plans to offer new M.A. courses in coming years.
In view of the growing importance of European Studies in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recognised the Centre for European Studies as the centre of advance studies and research on Europe by granting special assistance under Area Studies Programme (presently under the project mode).
In the next few years the Centre plans to develop projects in partnership with universities and research institutions and think tanks working on Europe from around the world. The plans to hold academic conferences and workshops on matters related to Europe and Indo-European affairs are already underway. The Centre also plans to sponsor public lectures on Europe featuring distinguished speakers from both India and Europe. To achieve the objective, the Centre will continue with the activities of Europe Forum that was established in 1998 by the erstwhile West European division to provide a regular and on-going forum for debate and discussion on Europe. A number of prominent speakers from academia, politics, diplomacy and media have already delivered lectures at the Forum on European developments.