The Seminar aims to find an answer to three “existential” questions about Europe: what is Europe? Where does Europe come from? Where is Europe going? The goal is cultural and civil at once, as it aims to give European citizen the tools to evaluate the European Union and what it currently represents, with its institutions and its operations. This is especially relevant in a time when the disappointment caused by the politics of the EU have overshadowed its image and have undermined its stability and coherence, fuelling sovereigntists, populisms, and centrifugal forces – Brexit being a prime example. In response to governments’ failures to fulfil the original purpose of the European Union, which is to create an ever-closer union in Europe (or even the United States of Europe), perhaps it is now time to reawaken in the European citizen the awareness that Europe is not only the “common home” of peace between States, which is undeniably very precious, but it is also the “common home” of fundamental values and principles to be guarded with care and conviction, due to the high degree of civilization they represent.


teacher profile | teaching materials


Europe is not a geographical space but a cultural and moral space, that is “a certain form of civilization” which makes it “a quid in itself, distinct from the other parts of the globe” – as Federico Chabod definitively said. Therefore, the contents of the seminar will be: 1) the very idea of Europe and its identity between civilization and barbarism; 2) the cultural and spiritual roots of European civilization; 3) the theories at the foundation of its ideal and historical models; 4) the parable of its civilization, from the mythical “rape of Europa”, through the civilizing mission of the modern age (the “Europeanization” of the world), to its decline under the material and moral wreckage of the First and Second World Wars; 5) the rebirth of Europe around the project of the confederate – or even better, federated – “common home”, founded on perpetual peace, in order to banish forever the endemic evil of war and to safeguard its civilization, which is now consolidated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000; 2007). Specific attention will be dedicated to the builders of European civilization (Pericles, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Christ, Justinian, Charlemagne, Dante, Erasmus, Bacon, Descartes, Locke, Voltaire, Condorcet, Beccaria, Kant, Tocqueville, Beveridge) and to the builders of a united Europe (Mazzini, Julien Benda, Luigi Einaudi, Altiero Spinelli, the Founding fathers of the European Union).

Core Documentation

A critical anthology by prof. Diana Thermes, including texts of Authors (Bible, Pericle, Socrate, Platone, Aristotele, Pico della Mirandola, Erasmo da Rotterdam, Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Condorcet, Kant, Guizot, Mazzini, Victor Hugo, Thomas Mann, Coudenhove-Kalergi, Croce, Einaudi, Spinelli, Camus, Habermas, Macron) and documents (Magna Charta; Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789; Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, 2000)

Reference Bibliography

Only for those interested in further information 1. Zygmunt Bauman, Europe: An Unfinished Adventure (2004) 2. Massimo Cacciari, Geo-filosofia dell’Europa, Adelphi 1994 3. Albert Camus, The Rebel (1951) 4. Federico Chabod, Storia dell'idea d'Europa (1961), Laterza 2007 5. Benedetto Croce, Perché non possiamo non dirci cristiani (1945) [pdf on demand] 6. Jürgen Habermas, The Crisis of the European Union (2012) 7. Jürgen Habermas, Sigmar Gabriel, Emmanuel Macron, New Perspectives on Europe (16 March 2017) 8. Emmanuel Macron, Initiative for Europe: A sovereign, united, democratic Europe (Speech at Sorbonne, Paris, 26 September 2017) [https://www.dfa.ie/media/English-version-transcript---Initiative-for-Europe---Speech-by-the-President-of-the-French-Republic.pdf] 9. Philippe Nemo, What is the West? (2006) 10. Paolo Prodi, Homo europaeus, il Mulino 2015 11. Giovanni Reale, Radici culturali e spirituali dell’Europa, Raffaello Cortina 2003 12. Robert Schuman, The Schuman Declaration (9 May 1950) [https://europa.eu] 13. Altiero Spinelli, Ernesto Rossi, Il Manifesto di Ventotene, Mondadori 2006 (contiene altri scritti oltre al Manifesto di Ventotene) 14. voce Europa, in Enciclopedia Treccani 15. voce Europeismo, in Dizionario di Storia Treccani (2010) 16. voce Europeismo. Il federalismo, di Sergio Romano, in Dizionario di Storia Treccani

Type of delivery of the course

In-class lecturesectures


Attendance is requested for at least two thirds of the lessons

Type of evaluation

A paper (minimum of 8 pages) is requested on a topic of the Seminar chosen by the student