In 1989 the DG 10 of the European Commission launched the so-called Jean Monnet Action. The name derives from the French brandy-merchant, civil servant and European entrepreneur Jean Monnet, and its purpose was to strengthen the teaching in and study of European integration at the institutions of higher education within the EU. The most recent initiative within the Jean Monnet Action is from 1998 and aims at establishing the so-called Jean Monnet Centers of Excellence at institutions of higher education in Europe. Despite their somewhat pretentious name, the purpose of these centres is to create fluid entities, a kind of virtual center, which will inform about as well as coordinate and inspire interdisciplinary and interregional cooperation within teaching and research in European integration studies.
With the help of a grant from the Jean Monnet Action, a Jean Monnet Center has been established at the University of Aarhus from autumn 1999. The grant holder in charge at the University of Aarhus is Thorsten Borring Olesen, Department of History. The other members of the board are Jean Monnet professors Knud Erik Jørgensen, Department of Political Science, Associate Professor Johnny Laursen, Department of History, Hans Henrik Holm, The Danish School of Jounalism and Jean Monnet professor Uffe Østergaard from Centre for European Cultural Studies. The Department of History is responsible for administrating the Jean Monnet Center.As mentioned above the task of the Jean Monnet Center is to collect and distribute information about the research on European integration. It has been placed at the University of Aarhus because of the university’s long-standing and very broad interest in the field. As early as 1973 the State and University Library established a European documentation centre, and during the 1990s the University of Aarhus, represented by the departments supporting the Jean Monnet Center, has obtained numerous grants for setting-up Jean Monnet chairs, courses and modules.
The Jean Monnet Center serves as a regional centre coordinating and informing within as well as beyond the gates of the university. Thus, the aim is to cooperate with public administration bodies, adult education programmes, interest groups, and so forth. The Center has run its activities from autumn 1999 and onwards.
During the first two years the Jean Monnet Center has arranged a number of different activities. At the University of Aarhus a series of Jean Monnet lectures has been held in the spring of 2000 and 2001 under the header: "European Integration and Denmark’s Participation". The series of Jean Monnet lectures are a recurring activity and are given by lecturers affiliated to the Center as well as by external lecturers. The lectures are aimed at students at the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences. Active participants (those participating in more than 80% of the lectures) recieve a certificate of participation. In addition to this, the Center has organised guest lectures, seminars, symposiums and conferences during the past two years.
The Center has also undertaken external activities such as lectures and courses. In the academic year of 1999/2000 a European regional employment conference was held in Aarhus. Furthermore, the Jean Monnet Center has annually organised courses on Europe for trade unions.
One of the primary activities is the Jean Monnet Newsletter, which is published four times a year. In addition to articles on specific topics, each newsletter contain an outline of all activities within the Centre as well as outlines of relevant courses on Europe and events at the University of Aarhus. Furthermore, it also covers select activities at other Danish institutions of higher education. Any information about such activities will be appreciated by the secretariat of the Jean Monnet Centre. Everyone who is interested in receiving the newsletter is welcome to contact the secretariat. A printed version as well as an Internet version of the newsletter will be available.Eventually the Jean Monnet Centre is intended to occupy a pivotal regional position in the work on initiatives and projects within the field of European integration studies. It is our hope that the interdisciplinary profile of the centre will prove to be the right platform for such a role.