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Johan Adriaensen

What role does the Council of the European Union fulfil in EU trade policy? In this chapter, I argue that the Council fulfils both a legislative as well as an executive function. Starting from the legal foundations, three different instruments of EU trade policy are distinguished, each with their own decision-making procedures and each with a different role for the Council. Supplanting such a legal framework with an administrative perspective provides the reader with the type of practical knowledge that facilitates a better understanding of the existing literature but also clarifies the aptness of a focus on both the Council’s legislative and executive roles. A third layer adds a political perspective by overviewing the academic literature. This perspective highlights the Council’s role (1) as a legislative body, seeking to control the European Commission (particularly in external negotiations), (2) as a defender of national competencies before the court of justice, and (3) as an executive body whose decision-making process is less characterized by political conflict and bargaining and more by collective problem-solving, coordination and cooperation. The chapter ends with a prospective outlook and lays down three directions for future research on the Council in the domain of trade policy.

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Johan Adriaensen, Patrick Bijsmans and Afke Groen

Do we need to provide methods training to Political Science students? If so, what sort of training should we provide? In this chapter, we turn our attention to these and other questions about teaching research methods in Political Science by exploring the place of methods training within the undergraduate Political Science curriculum. We argue that, in designing methods curricula, it is crucial to consider three trade-offs, namely 1) the balance between integrating methods in and ‘contaminating’ the goals of substantive courses, 2) the need to gradually emerge students in methods, starting with generic academic skills, and 3) the importance of constructively aligning methods training with the overall objectives of the program. Drawing on a literature review combined with descriptive statistics from our own dataset of 144 undergraduate curricula, we find considerable variation between programs in Europe and North America. This concerns whether or not methods are taught, what type of methods are taught, as well as whether or not students can apply their skills in a final research project. Our findings also show that programs differ as to how they have dealt with the aforementioned trade-offs. Given that research methods are generally seen as an important element of political science, this raises questions about the coherence of the discipline and the importance of a core curriculum.