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Why the European Union Will Not Become a Superpower

Last year the European Union celebrated fifty years of peace and prosperity. Despite these extraordinary accomplishments, many Europeans feel that integration has somehow failed, that the Union will not be complete until it looks more like a federal state, with a constitution, unified foreign policy, and defense capacity. In his Athenaeum lecture, historian and Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar James Sheehan examines the history of Europe in the twentieth century, and suggests why political integration is unlikely and may be undesirable.

James Sheehan began teaching modern European history at Stanford in 1979 and is now Dickason professor in the humanities, a senior fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and the Paul Davies Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. He is the recipient of four teaching awards, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Humboldt Research Prize, and an NEH fellowship. His books include The Eclipse of Violence: The Transformation of Twentieth-Century Europe (forthcoming), Museums in the German Art World: From the End of the Old Regime to the Rise of Modernism (2000), German History, 1770-1866 (1993), and German Liberalism in the Nineteenth Century (1978). President of the American Historical Association in 2005, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy in Berlin, a corresponding fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Orden pour le Mérite.

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society. It has chapters at 276 colleges and universities, and over 600,000 members, including CMC’s Tau of California. The Visiting Scholar Program contributes to the intellectual life of member institutions by making available each year distinguished scholars who visit colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.