Course Description

470.721 - Comparative Federalism: The United States and the European Union

Federalism the division of power and sovereignty between a central authority and local governments has emerged as one of the most important themes of contemporary Western politics in both the United States and Europe. For the United States the division of power between the Federal and State governments lies at the very heart of the American Constitution. At the same time disputes over the precise balance of Federal and State power has been a major fault line in American politics since Federalists and anti-Federalists at the time of the founding. For Europe the destruction of two World Wars showed the destructive side of nationalism and acted as an impetus to leverage Europe's common history and cultural inheritance to forge a supranational political and economic union dedicated to peace and prosperity. Since the end of the Cold War and the Treaty of Maastricht the process of European integration has speeded up rapidly resulting in a common European currency as well as common legal and political institutions. At the same time concerns about the perceived loss of sovereignty, national identity, and democratic accountability have led in some places to backlashes against Brussels and resurgent nationalism. There is also the broader question of the European Union's goals and identity is it principally an economic union or is it a super-state in the making? In this course we will explore Federalism in its institutional, legal, philosophical, and historical aspects in both America and Europe.