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Forum on Geopolitics

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

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Welcome to the Forum on Geopolitics

Welcome to the Forum on Geopolitics, an interdisciplinary space created by leading academics to consider within their historical contexts the world's most pressing current geopolitical questions. The Forum is a first step in the development of a new research centre, the Centre of Geopolitics and Grand Strategy (CoGGS), which will deepen the study of grand strategy and statecraft at the University of Cambridge, offer innovative opportunities for collaboration with practitioners and deliver impactful engagement with the wider world. We are currently working to fund this Centre and its planned lectureships, studentships and events programmes. If you are interested in supporting our efforts, please get in touch. --------------------------------------------- Our sincere thanks to Mr Crispin Odey for his very kind support and encouragement of our current programme of work.

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Events programme

The Forum on Geopolitics convenes a rich calendar of events and meetings in Cambridge and London on a wide range of issues related to our research themes, bringing together a variety of highly distinguished guests to consider the most important questions in modern geopolitics. If you have a suggestion for an event, or would like further information on hosting or sponsoring an event, please get in touch.

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Upcoming Event: The British-European economic relationship after Brexit

In January 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled her strategy for Britain's exit from the European Union, which includes leaving the single market. How will Britain and the European Union remain "best friends and neighbours" after a profoundly changed political and economic relationship? This talk will explore what possibilities and consequences Britain's departure from the single market may hold for Britain's relationship with the European Union. YouGov's Marcus Roberts, Director of International Projects, will additionally present polling data on Brexit, and Britain and Europe's future relationship.


Michael Gove gives talk to Forum on Geopolitics

The Forum on Geopolitics was delighted to host Michael Gove in the Department of Politics and International Studies for a talk to an audience of faculty and students entitled "My Vision for Europe after Brexit".

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Understanding the Trump Election: Will America's role in global affairs change?

Join us on Tuesday 15 November for a panel event exploring the implications of the shock election of Donald Trump. Speakers include Prof. Stefan Halper, Dr. Thomas Grant and Steven McGregor. Places strictly limited. Email mcr39@cam.ac.uk to register.

Recent event: '2017: War with Russia' - a public lecture by General Sir Richard Shirreff

On 22 November 2016 at Upper Hall, Peterhouse, General Sir Richard Shirreff delivered a public lecture on the subject of his recent book, 2017: War with Russia, in which he argues that Russia is now our most dangerous adversary and outlines why, by failing to heed the warning signals from Russia, we are on course for war.

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Annual Forum of the YouGov Centre at Cambridge: "The Trump-Brexit Challenge to Globalisation"

On 18 November 2016, the Forum on Geopolitics will host a panel at the annual Forum of the YouGov Centre at Cambridge. The conference theme is "The Trump-Brexit Challenge to Globalisation" and the Forum's panel will be on the topic of "Britain and the rest of Europe after June 2016". Speakers include General Sir Peter Wall (Director, Amicus/former Chief of the British Army), Bronwen Maddox (Director, Institute for Government), Sonia Delesalle-Stolper (UK correspondent for Libération), John Jungclaussen (London Correspondent, Die Zeit). Registration essential.

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Recent event: 'Europe after Britain: the impact of Brexit on the rest of the EU' - a lecture by Giles Merritt

On 3 November, Giles Merritt (Founder and Chairman of the highly influential Brussels-based think tank 'Friends of Europe', and former Financial Times correspondent) set out his vision for the European Union after the departure of the UK.

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Recent event: The Nightmare Series: "President Trump - the First 100 Days"

On Wednesday 19 October at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, Dr. Thomas Wright (Brookings Institution) presented a 'Nightmare Series' lecture, in which he fast-forwarded to 2019 and "looked back" at President Trump's first 100 days in office. Prof. Andrew Preston (Cambridge) acted as respondent, and Joe Twyman, YouGov Head of Political and Social Research (EMEA), discussed the findings of a poll commissioned for this event.

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Recent event: 2016's Race to Change the World: How the U.S. Presidential Campaign Can Reshape Global Politics and Foreign Policy

On 11 and 12 July, CRASSH, POLIS and the Forum on Geopolitics hosted a major international conference focusing on the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the implications that this will have for future U.S. foreign policy. Speakers included Madeleine Albright (former U.S. Secretary of State), Vin Weber (Republican Party strategist and former Congressman), Ambassador Peter Ammon (German Ambassador to the United Kingdom), Sir Richard Dearlove (former head of MI6), Sir Malcolm Rifkind (former Defence and Foreign Secretary).

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Recent event: 'Thinking about genocide' - a lecture by Philippe Sands QC

On Friday 23 September 2016, Philippe Sands QC, (Corpus 1979), discussed whether it was useful to invent the crime of ‘genocide’, which addresses the destruction of groups, as opposed to the protection of individuals implied by the parallel concept of ‘crimes against humanity’.

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Recent event: Dalibor Rohac presents 'A Conservative Case for the EU'

The Forum on Geopolitics at POLIS was delighted to host Dalibor Rohac, discussing the key arguments of his new book, 'Towards an Imperfect Union: A Conservative Case for the EU'.

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Recent event: 'People Power - Polish Solidarity and the Ukrainian Revolution'

On 3 May 2016 at William Mong Hall, Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, as part of an ongoing commitment to the exploration of Polish-Ukrainian issues, Cambridge Polish Studies, Cambridge Ukrainian Studies and the Forum on Geopolitics presented a public symposium on the connections between two popular revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe: the Polish "Solidarity" revolution of the 1980s and the "Maidan" movement (or movements) of post-1991 independent Ukraine.

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Recent event series and reports: 'A Westphalia for the Middle East'

The fourth and final seminar of this phase took place on 11 May 2016 at the Dept. of War Studies, King's College London. This series was supported by the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub with funds from the Federal Foreign Office (FFO), and by Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy. It is being run in conjunction with King's College London and the University of Exeter.

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Recent event: What's Going On In Catalonia?

A panel event exploring the situation in Catalonia and the prospects for the future, hosted by the Forum on Geopolitics, Sobirania i Justícia, and the Project for Democratic Union, with the support of Government of Catalonia Delegation to the United Kingdom and Ireland, and London Academy of Diplomacy.

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Recent event: ‘Brexit: ‘The Day After The Day After’ – constitutional implications for England, Scotland and the Union

Will Brexit isolate Britain, fracture the United Kingdom, cause further instability on mainland Europe and shatter Europe's best hope for the future, or will it liberate the British and other Europeans to realise their potential free of the shackles of Brussels? The second of this two-event series was held on 27 April Cambridge (McCrum Theatre, Corpus Christi College).

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New Statesman cover story by the Forum on Geopolitics - Thurs 21 Jan 2016: Ending the New Thirty Years War

New Statesman cover story, 21 Jan 2016, by Prof. Brendan Simms, Dr. Michael Axworthy and Dr Patrick Milton.

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Recent event: Nightmare Series II, The 'Big Freeze' - 14 March 2016 public lecture exploring the consequences of a Russian 'zero gas' supply disruption

On Monday 14 March at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Prof Nick Butler (KCL) delivered a 'Nightmare Series' lecture, in which he discussed the consequences for Europe of a geopolitically motivated Russian zero-supply gas disruption. Jānis Kažociņš, National Security Adviser to the President, Republic of Latvia, acted as respondent. This event was very kindly supported by Absolute Strategy Research.

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Recent event: Migration and the EU ('German Geopolitics Today' Series, 11 Mar 2016)

The first panel in the 'German Geopolitics Today' Series was convened urgently in response to the question of migration and the EU. It brought together influential speakers to consider the real nature of the risk, analyse the root causes of the problem and of Europe's failure to address it to date, and explore and interrogate possible paths to resolution. Speakers included Patrick Bahners, Heinz Schulte, Wolfgang Nowak and Jason Cowley. The next event in the series will be announced shortly. Register interest now.

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Recent Event: The Revolutions of 1989: A Handbook (Christ's College, 15 Mar 2016)

On 15 March 2016, Christ's College and the Forum on Geopolitics welcomed to Cambridge three distinguished professors from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences: Wolfgang Müller, Michael Gehler and Arnold Suppan, who presented their excellent new book on the revolutions that ended the Cold War.

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Syria - the Laboratory for World Destruction (New Statesman leader, 3 Dec 2015)

Recent New Statesman leader calls for a Westphalia-style settlement for the Middle East.

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Recent event: Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

On 16 and 17 September 2015, Lord Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, now Master of Magdalene College, and The Dialogue at Cambridge University Society hosted ‘Growing Wisdom, Changing People’: a Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. This event was run in association with the Forum on Geopolitics, The Association of Commonwealth Universities, London, The Woolf Institute Cambridge, and The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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Recent event: The Geopolitics of Modern Ukraine

On Wednesday 20 January, 5.30pm, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine official and former Head of the Political Section of the Embassy of Ukraine in the UK Yulia Osmolovska delivered a lecture to the Forum on Geopolitics on the subject of Geopolitics and the Ukraine today.

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Recent event: 'Dark Water': Security in the Black Sea region

On 15 October 2015 at Cripps Court auditorium, Magdalene College, The Cambridge Review of International Affairs, in collaboration with the Forum on Geopolitics, presented 'Dark Water: Security in the Black Sea Region'. Over a year after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, this panel sought to explore the existing dynamic in the Black Sea region, from border security, international law, and energy security issues.

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Recent event: 'On the Brink': An Hour to Avoid War with Russia - hosted by award-winning presenter, Tim Sebastian

How do top decision makers act under intense pressure, taking into consideration political, military, economic, public and legal issues and reactions? On 16 October 2015, Cambridge’s Corpus Christi College and the Forum on Geopolitics at POLIS brought together a panel of expert practitioners from the worlds of politics and military strategy for a one-hour war-game scenario entitled ‘On the Brink’, moderated by award-winning presenter Tim Sebastian. This event was designed to test participants’ responses to a series of incidents that could escalate quickly into military or other retaliatory action.

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Recent event: Leszek Balcerowicz public lecture on 'The Future of the Eurozone'

On Wednesday 27 January 2016, Professor Leszek Balcerowicz - Former Polish Finance Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and President of the National Bank of Poland - shared with a packed auditorium his perspectives on the future of the Eurozone and on Poland's potential entry to the monetary union. This event was organised by Cambridge Polish Studies.

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Recent event: Public lecture by Rainer Neske: 'Geopolitics and European business: The new German question' - 18 November 2015

Recent destabilising influences such as the crisis of the Euro, the migration question, the rise of ISIS, and Russia's annexation of Crimea and interventions in Ukraine and Syria, have placed a question mark over many assumptions concerning the trade relationships at the heart of European security. In an atmosphere of rising pressure and building tension, the powers and populations of Europe have begun to question once again the desirability and wisdom of a Europe built around a German economic powerhouse - the 'German Question' has been re-opened. In a wide-ranging lecture and Q&A session at Peterhouse on 18 November, Mr Rainer Neske drew upon his experience at the highest levels of the banking world to investigate what these challenges mean for German business, and how they might be overcome.

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Recent event: Public lecture by John Bew (KCL) on 'Castlereagh and the Congress of Vienna - a model for our times?'

On 21 October 2015, the Forum on Geopolitics was delighted to welcome back to Peterhouse former Fellow, Dr John Bew, to deliver a public lecture exploring the diplomatic strategies and statecraft of Viscount Castlereagh, and the lessons we might apply to the challenges currently facing British foreign policy.

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Masterclass on US views of contemporary European order: Richard Haass

On Thursday 23 April, the Forum on Geopolitics held a 'Masterclass on US views of contemporary European order' with Dr Richard Haass, President of the US Council on Foreign Relations.

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Masterclass on Britain's role in the world: Jonathan Powell

On Thursday 21st May 2015, CoGGS held a Masterclass on Britain's role in the world with British diplomat and author Jonathan Powell. Mr Powell served as the first Downing Street Chief of Staff, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, from 1997 to 2007.

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RAND Europe-Forum on Geopolitics multidisciplinary seminar on 'Foreign Fighters - threats and responses'

The second seminar in the RAND Europe-Forum on Geopolitics series was held on Thursday 21st May at Pembroke College. This seminar explored the phenomenon of foreign fighters, and was conducted under the Chatham House Rule.

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Nationhood for Scotland and Catalonia: threat or opportunity for the EU?

In collaboration with Diplocat, Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, and The Delegation of the Catalan Government in London, the Forum on Geopolitics hosted a colloquium on 30 June at the Alison Richard Building, exploring whether the rise of secessionism in Catalonia and Scotland unravels or in fact reinforces the trend towards greater European political integration. Videos are available of the conference presentations and keynote address - please see News & Activities for further information.

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'Perspectives on UK Foreign and Defence Policy': a panel discussion in conjunction with RAND Europe

On Thursday 5 March 2015, POLIS, the Forum on Geopolitics and RAND Europe co-hosted a panel discussion exploring perspectives on UK Foreign and Defence Policy. This event represented the first in a series of workshops aimed at bringing academics and practitioners together to think in collaborative, interdisciplinary and strategic ways about pressing issues in international relations.

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"The Day 1.5 Billion People Lost Their Water" - Paul Kennedy's 'Nightmare Series' lecture at St John's College

On Friday 15 May 2015, Prof. Paul Kennedy, Director of International Security Studies at Yale University and leading scholar in international relations and grand strategy, delivered the inaugural Forum on Geopolitics 'Nightmare Series' lecture at St John's College, Cambridge. In this talk, he painted a 'nightmare' scenario involving the accidental contamination of four major Asian waterways, and the geopolitical forces that could be unleashed by such a disaster.

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Research themes and interests

The Forum on Geopolitics currently focuses on six key research themes, each with its own 'Laboratory for World Construction': spaces for academics and practitioners to collaborate in constructing meaningful solutions to complex geopolitical problems, beginning with the innovative use of historical understanding.

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RSS Feed Latest news

Forum on Geopolitics Triple Bill on Brexit Report

Jun 06, 2017

The University of Cambridge’s Forum on Geopolitics is pleased to present this report of a series of three events held in May focusing on Brexit as part of its “Britain and Europe” research projects.

Michael Gove gives talk to Forum on Geopolitics

May 12, 2017

The Forum on Geopolitics hosts Michael Gove

Donald Trump: The Making of a World View

Jan 26, 2017

“When Donald Trump enters the White House, he will do so with a worldview that has been constantly advanced and relatively consistently articulated in countless statements over the past three decades. Don't say he didn't warn you.”

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