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Learning Activity: Examining the history of the European Union

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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the history of the European Union (EU) and examine the benefits of a unified Europe versus concerns about the sovereignty of individual countries.

Refer students to the links below to learn about the history and purposes of the European Union. Pose the following questions to guide students' research:

  1. When during the 20th century was the concept of a unified Europe introduced?
  2. What are the long-term plans for a unified Europe?
  3. What are some of the common political and economic policies of EU member states?
  4. What are some of the key dates in the history of European unification?
  5. Which European states belong to the EU? Which nations have applied for membership? Which European nations have not joined the EU?
  6. What are some of the arguments for and against joining the EU?

After students present their findings, ask students: Could membership in the EU impact a country's national identity and culture, as some arguments suggest? From a political and economic standpoint, how can EU membership strengthen a country? Instruct students to write opinion papers offering their views of a unified Europe. After students share their papers with the class, challenge them to imagine what Europe would be like today if the EU had never been created.

Correlated Standards

Social Studies

Standard VI. Power, Authority and Governance: Students will understand the historical development of structures of power, authority and governance and their evolving functions in contemporary U.S. society as well as other parts of the world.

Standard IX. Global Connections: Students will examine global connections and interdependence.

The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies ( link) are published by the National Council for Social Studies ( link).


European Union, anniversary, membership, culture



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