European Borders without Walls: A Free Online Course


Course description

Understanding borders in the 21st century is more difficult than ever before. Thanks to technological changes, borders are nearly everywhere. They are both physical (a line on the ground) and virtual (biometric), and all of us are now subjected to multiple boundary crossings. Borders are becoming more difficult to define and manage and, increasingly, policy makers must deal with the multiple and complex activities of governments and the actions of private and public organizations across international boundaries.

Learn about the history of borders and boundary making. Explore what happens in cultural borderlands, and how current changes affect our understanding and the activities of governments as they face the many challenges related to borders and boundaries: flows of trade or migrants, pandemics and sustainability issues, and security. 

You will have access to a wide range of debates on the history, culture, economics, sustainability, security and governance of borders. Each of the course’s 10 units introduces a fundamental aspect of our era of changing borders and uses a variety of learning activities to illustrate the topic including video-clips, short readings and online lectures. You can also choose to complete assignments and quizzes, and participate in group discussions.

The course material, which you can follow at your own pace, will prepare you to compare North American and European borders and formulate ideas on both. Some of the topics we will cover include:

  • defining borders, boundaries and frontiers, and their history
  • political, ethnolinguistic and religious communities and borders
  • markets and borders
  • migrations and borders
  • governments and borders— the ongoing struggle
  • environmental challenges
  • security policies and border challenges

This course is possible thanks to generous funding from the European Union Centre of Excellence and the Jean Monnet Chair in European Border and Urban Region Policies at UVic.

It is open on a non-credit basis to professionals in the public and private sector and community members with a strong interest in borders. Non-credit participants who finish all assignments will receive a certificate of completion.

The course is also open to UVic students as a third-year undergraduate credit course, assessed according to university standards and subject to tuition fees. If you are a UVic student who would like to register for credit please contact

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