Some thirty years ago, Europe was examined in Australian universities as separate histories, countries, societies, economies and cultures. There were keen advocates of European Studies in interdisciplinary studies programmes. Yet, the EU and its predecessors did not initially feature significantly in these programmes – some subjects had, for example, one lecture dealing with the European Union (EU).

Much has changed since then. From its modest beginnings, Australia has become known as a country of fruitful research and curriculum development on the EU’s policies, law, institutions and EU–Australia relations. Professor Philomena Murray was at the forefront of many of these developments. She pioneered the first comprehensive study of the EU in Australia, with dedicated courses from first year undergraduate level to Masters level at the University of Melbourne. She introduced nine new subjects on Europe at the University of Melbourne.

The University of Melbourne established its European Studies Programme in 1990 and continues to provide committed support to the study of the EU. This Jean Monnet Module seeks to fill a gap in the study of the EU in comparative regional governance in Australia. It is a valuable contribution to the University of Melbourne’s Masters in International Relations.

For information about the Jean Monnet Module grant announcements in 2015, see: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/sites/eacea-site/files/jean-monnet-eaca042014-modules-chairs-and-centres-of-excellence-selection-result.pdf.

Subject Overview

This Jean Monnet Module examines regionalism in a comparative perspective, focusing on Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. It examines regional governance in terms of institutions, practices, values, norms and governance outputs. The role of leadership is scrutinised. The value of comparative approaches is critically examined.

The subject explores theories of regionalism and comparative regionalism studies. It critically assesses the European Union’s experience of regional integration and the idea that it constitutes a template or reference point for other regions and for regionalism studies. The role of sovereignty, consensus identity and security are examined in the case of Southeast Asian, South American and African regionalism. The differing emphases accorded to institutions, supranationalism, intergovernmentalism and governance are examined comparatively.

The debates regarding what and who constitute drivers are presented in a thematic and comprehensive manner. The subject examines historical contexts; intellectual initiators; crisis; external threats; institutions; multilateralism; common problems; ideas and narratives as drivers, or on occasion, as inhibitors, of regionalism and integration in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.

This subject examines alternative views on what drives regionalism, such as multilateral forums. Leadership and core states are critically examined. Material, ideational and normative factors are all examined and assessed comparatively.

Subject Objective

This innovative Jean Monnet Module seeks to bridge the study of regional governance in Europe, South East Asia, South America and Africa. The intention is to render the curriculum on regional governance explicitly comparative and transnational. This Jean Monnet Module seeks to encourage students to question dominant categories in political science, to challenge teleology and orthodoxy in EU studies and to dismantle a silo approach in regionalism studies, through curriculum and scholarship. This Jean Monnet Module further encourages students to re-consider political concepts about the political entity which is the EU, and to critique regionalism and governance processes, in developing their expertise through vigorous multidisciplinary debate.

The objective of this module is to examine regional governance in the EU, ASEAN, Mercosur and the African Union in terms of political, economic, security, regionalism and people movement. It examines the role of the EU as a governance norms entrepreneur in other regional bodies.

The module seeks to enhance dynamic programme-building, where research, teaching and policy engagement are closely linked. The programme is both comparative and transnational in focus. It is multidisciplinary in approach, drawing on political science, international relations, economics, sociology and law. The approach encourages the questioning of assumptions of the state as a primary actor and of the EU as a primary regional entity.

The approach seeks to encompass firstly, processes of region-building: paths of the actual step-by-step transformations, including external impetus, leadership, the role of crisis and threat-perception; secondly, projects of region-building: the visions of intellectuals, political elites and popular movements; and, thirdly, products of regions, such as treaties and agreements, institutions, practices and acquis or legal patrimony. The methodology is to examine both drivers and impediments of regionalism and integration in comparative perspective, relating to specific historical contexts, economic imperatives and political sustainability over time.


This Jean Monnet Module seeks to prepare students for working in regional organisations, such as the EU, ASEAN, Mercosur and the African Union; national and state government and multilateral organisations such as the UN and WTO. It will provide an understanding of regionalism for students who seek to work for NGOs and in advocacy more generally. Students are provided with a unique set of skills to work in policy making and to also develop comparative, conceptual and analytical knowledge on comparative regional governance. Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • Understand the origins, drivers and impediments in regionalism and integration in Europe; Asia; Africa and South America;
  • Comprehend the role of crisis and endogenous and exogenous factors in regional governance architectures;
  • Gain knowledge of major debates in the comparative regionalism literature concerning regional governance;
  • Acquire in-depth understanding of important historical and contemporary issues concerning the role of leadership in regional governance;
  • Deepen analytical skills relevant to careers in international affairs, including in government, business, media, and non-governmental organisations.

Aside from the core teaching as part of this Jean Monnet Module, the project disseminates its research to a wider audience through a number of mediums.


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