Temaomtale EUR103

Europe after 1945: Transformations in European Economies and Societies

Foto: Port of Rotterdam 1977, Markefelt, Mark / Sjöhistoriska museet


EUR103 will provide you with an overview of the history of Europe, East and West, from the end of the Second World War up to date. At the heart of this lecture will be the history of the European economy and related areas, such as natural resources and demography.

While the war left the continent widely devastated, the periods thereafter are marked by rapid economic growth. For a long time, some regions of Europe have been particularly successful with respect to economic development. We will discuss, how and why this was possible. The course will start with a discussion about the impact of the Second World War on the people and their resources in Europe. We will then proceed chronologically and look at the Eastern and Western economy during the Cold War and thereafter. For Western Europe, special attention will be given to the European Recovery Program, better known as Marshall Plan. We will then discuss driving actors and ideas behind the European integration and the origins of the EU. As for the East, the course will introduce the ideas and realms of a centrally planned economic system and we will talk about the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon). However, we will not only focus on East and West, but include questions of the role of the Nordic countries during the Cold War as well. Also, it is sometimes necessary to enlarge the perspective and look beyond Europe in order to understand economic developments on the continent. We will thus also look at the impact of the decolonization on the European economy and the welfare state. After addressing the rapid and dramatic changes in Eastern Europe and the USSR that led to the end of the Cold War, we will eventually discuss the European integration and separation in a globalized twenty-first century. What have been the challenges of globalization on Europe and the welfare state? Is Europe a rising economic super power or is left in distress after the financial crisis of 2008 and the challenges arising from national aspirations?