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Geopolitical Scenario Planning

Maastricht Summer School
Netherlands, Maastricht
Maastricht Summer School Netherlands, Bonnefantenstraat 2, 6211 KL Maastricht, The Netherlands
Tuition fee €600.00 per programme


The melting of the Arctic ice cap, the disputed maritime boundaries in the South China Sea and the involvement of many states in the Syrian War underline the geopolitical complexity in international relations. This course teaches you the skills to identify the geopolitical drivers of inter-state conflicts, write scenarios for these conflicts and assess the impact of these scenarios on the foreign policy strategy of the states involved. What is national security, and why is it often seen as a national interest? Which territories and maritime areas are subject to conflicts between states? And how can scenario planning help you imagine the future of such conflicts and anticipate likely responses to them by the states involved? To answer these questions, you first complete a group assignment in which you analyze the geopolitical risk drivers of an inter-state conflict over a chosen area. You then analyze the foreign policy strategy of one of the states that are involved in this conflict. The final assignment concerns the writing of four scenarios for the conflict and the possible responses of the aforementioned state to each scenario. You present your findings in class. Interactive lectures and roundtable discussions help you prepare for your assignments.

▪ Designing an analytical framework to study the role of geopolitical factors in foreign policy;
▪ Writing scenarios for areas that are contested by multiple states and exploring plausible foreign policy responses by these states;
▪ Understanding how national security as a key national interest can be defined by states;
▪ Developing your critical thinking skills by productively combining knowledge, assumptions and questions;
▪ Boosting your employability by acquiring valuable skills required for positions in business, government and academia.

Instruction language

▪ Strong motivation and good command of English are essential to get a pass for the course;
▪ Basic knowledge of (geo)political ideas and trends is recommended;
▪ Aimed at Bachelor/ Master/ PhD students in Political Sciences/ International Relations/ Geography/ History/ Economics/ Business/ Media Studies/ Journalism/ Cultural Studies/ Linguistics. If in doubt, please contact Leonhardt for personal course selection advice.

Suggested literature
Below you find some general reading suggestions. It is not required to do some reading before the course. If you like to read something, select the sources that are closest to your research interests. Alternatively, please ask Leonhardt for personal reading advice or check his website:
▪ Baldwin, D. (1997) The Concept of Security. Review of International Studies. Vol. 23, pp. 5-26.
▪ Beasley, R.K., Kaarbo, J., Lantis, J.S. and Snarr, M.T. (2013) Foreign Policy in Comparative Perspective. Domestic and international influences on state behaviour.
▪ Cattaruzza, A. and Sintès, P. (2016) Géopolitique des conflits.
▪ Gourdin, P. (2010) Géopolitiques. Manuel de géopolitique.
▪ Jarvis, K. and Holland, J. (2015) Security. A critical introduction.
▪ Kelly, E. (2006) Powerful times. Rising to the challenge of our uncertain world.
▪ Lindgren, M. and Bandhold, H. (2009) Scenario planning. The link between future and strategy.
▪ Nye, J. S. Jr. and Welch, D.A. (2016) Understanding global conflict and cooperation: An introduction to theory and history (10th ed.).
▪ Smith, S., Hadfield, A. and Dunne, T. (eds., 2016) Foreign policy. Theories, actors, cases (3rd ed.).
▪ Schwartz, P. (1996) The art of the long view – Planning for the future in an uncertain world.

Teaching methods
▪ Lectures ▪ Presentations ▪ Work in subgroups

Assessment methods
▪ Attendance ▪ Participation ▪ Presentation

Geopolitical Scenario Planning ▪ National Security ▪ Foreign Policy Strategy ▪ Geopolitics ▪ Geo-Economics ▪ Geostrategy ▪ National Interests ▪ Foreign Policy Analysis ▪ Territorial Conflicts ▪ Maritime Boundary Conflicts ▪ Scenario Writing ▪ Analytical Skills

Apply now! Block 6.1 2018/19
Application deadline
Jul 19, 2019 23:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Aug 5, 2019

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States