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Forum on Geopolitics

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Studying at Cambridge



  1. Faculty
  2. Staff
  3. Forum Affiliates


Professor Brendan Simms
  • Professor of the History of European International Relations
  • Brendan Simms is an expert on European geopolitics, past and present. His principal interests are the German Question, Britain and Europe, Humanitarian Intervention and state construction. He teaches at both undergraduate and graduate level in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and the Faculty of History. His MPhil course on the History European Geopolitics (co-taught with Dr Charlie Laderman) uses scenarios as part of the teaching and learning process. He has supervised PhD dissertations on subjects as diverse as Intervention and State Sovereignty in the Holy Roman Empire, Sinn Fein, the American colonist and the eighteenth-century European state system, the Office of the UN High Representative in Bosnia, and German Civil-Military relations.
  • Brendan Simms is a frequent contributor to print and broadsheet media. He has advised governments and parliaments, and spoken at Westminster, in the European parliament and at think-tanks in the United Kingdom, the United States and in many Eurozone countries. The Centre for Geopolitics is designed to draw together all these interests.


Kaitlin M. Ball
  • Development Coordinator
  • Kaitlin M. Ball is a licensed U.S. attorney pursuing a PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, where she focuses on security in post-Patten Northern Ireland.

Forum Affiliates

Dr Michael Axworthy
  • Michael Axworthy visited Iran many times as a teenager in the 1970s, studied history at Peterhouse 1982-85, joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1986 and served as the Head of Iran Section 1998-2000. He left the FCO in 2000, and began teaching at Exeter University in 2005. His first book The Sword of Persia, about the Iranian conqueror Nader Shah, was published in July 2006. He has written a number of articles on eighteenth-century and modern Iran for academic journals and edited volumes. He has also produced a series of pieces on contemporary Iran and other subjects for Prospect magazine (, the Guardian, the Independent and the New Statesman and has made numerous TV and radio appearances discussing Iranian subjects (including on BBC World TV’s Doha Debates, BBC Radio 4's Today programme and History of the World in 100 Objects, hosted by Neil McGregor of the British Museum). He has done consultancies for Credit Suisse and Citibank, and briefings and other speaking engagements for the US, British, Norwegian and Dutch governments, and NATO.
  • In January 2017 Oxford University Press published his fourth book, Iran: What Everyone Needs to Know.
Kaitlin M. Ball
  • Development Coordinator
  • Kaitlin M. Ball is a licensed U.S. attorney pursuing a PhD in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, where she focuses on security in post-Patten Northern Ireland.
Richard Bassett
  • Richard Bassett is an expert on Central Europe. After graduating from Christ’s College and the Courtauld Institute of Art, he worked for ten years as The Times correspondent in Eastern Europe during the closing decade of the Cold War before returning to London to take up various posts in the City. He is the author of several books, most notably “For God and Kaiser”, (Yale 2015), the first history of the Habsburg army to be published in English. He has taught at the Soros University of Budapest, the Universities of London, Ljubljana, Trieste and Zagreb.
Dr John Bew
  • Dr John Bew works with the Forum on Geopolitics to support the Westphalia for the Middle East research project. He is a reader in History and Foreign Policy at the War Studies Department at King's College London and Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence. Dr Bew is also contributing writer at the New Statesman and a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, American Interest, National Interest, New Republic and Irish Times. From 2007-10, he was Lecturer in Modern British History, Harris Fellow and Director of Studies at Peterhouse, Cambridge.
Professor Montserrat Guibernau
  • Montserrat Guibernau works with the Forum on Geopolitics on activities relating to state unity and secessionism, with particular reference to Catalonia and Europe.
  • Prof. Guibernau holds a PhD in Social and Political Theory, King’s College, Cambridge and a BA in Philosophy, University of Barcelona. She is currently Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London.
  • Her current research focuses upon wider multidisciplinary intellectual agenda in Politics and Sociology, it concerns key academic and policy debates about migration, nationalism and ethnic diversity in the EU and the US as well as the study of challenges posed by secessionism and ethnic violence.
  • At present she holds a Visiting Fellowship at the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Cambridge (POLIS). She is also a Member of the Management Council at the Canada Blanch Centre, London School of Economics. In 2012-2014 she held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship on: ‘Identity, Emotions and Political Mobilization’.
  • She has taught, researched and supervised graduate students at Queen Mary, having previously held an ESRC senior research fellowship at the University of Warwick and lectureships and a readership at the University of Barcelona and the Open University. Montserrat has held visiting positions at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada, the University of Tampere, Finland, the Austrian Academy of Social Sciences, Austria, the London School of Economics and the University of Cambridge.
  • She has delivered lectures at many universities in North America, including New York University, Columbia University, Princeton and, most recently, Harvard University as well as lecturing at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, and being invited as speaker at the Beijing Forum, 2007.
  • E-mail:
Nora Topor Kalinskij
  • Research Assistant
  • Nora T. Kalinskij is a foreign policy analyst. On the global level, she studies geopolitical shifts and political trends focussing on Europe and the Russian Federation. On the regional level, she specialises in Eastern European geopolitics, analysing how Russian-Western relations play out in this theatre. Nora is an analyst for the Russian International Affairs Council. Before joining the Forum on Geopolitics, Nora worked with the ‘Russia in Europe’ programme of the Körber Foundation in Hamburg and the analytical centre Rethinking Russia in Moscow. Nora previously headed a policy team working on ‘Syria: Reforms for Peace and Stable Government’. This project was a joint venture between The Wilberforce Society, a policy hub at the University of Cambridge, and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Nora holds a BA Hons in Politics and International Relations (HSPS) from the University of Cambridge.
Dr Charlie Laderman
  • Lecturer in International History at King's College London
  • Charlie Laderman is a Lecturer in International History at King's College London, and is currently the Harrington Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas's Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs & Clements Center for National Security. Dr. Laderman was formerly a Research Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, and an Affiliated Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge. His research focuses on 19th and 20th century America and its relations with the wider world, with an emphasis on the intersection between U.S. and International History, the interconnection between U.S. foreign policy and domestic politics, and the relationship between imperialism, humanitarianism and liberal internationalism. He was previously a Fox International Fellow at the Whitney and Betty Macmillan Center for International and Area Studies, and Smith Richardson Fellow in International Security Studies, both at Yale University, and an AHRC Fellow at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress.
Timothy Less
  • Timothy is director of the Nova Europa consultancy, which provides political risk analysis of Eastern Europe and a member of Darwin College, where he is conducting research on the geopolitics of Southeastern Europe. He studied Contemporary Eastern European Politics at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London and International Relations at the University of Cambridge.
  • Previously, Tim spent a decade working as an analyst, diplomat and policymaker at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office where, among other things, he served as the Political Secretary in Skopje (Macedonia), ran the British Embassy Office in Banja Luka (Bosnia) and the EU Institutions Department, and led the Prime Minister’s initiative on Countries at Risk of Instability. He is also a former lecturer in Eastern European Politics at the University of Kent and a former risk analyst for the ratings agency, Dun & Bradstreet, where he covered the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.
Dr Patrick Milton
  • Patrick Milton is a postdoctoral research fellow at Freie Universität Berlin, whose research interests include the history of intervention for the protection of foreign subjects in early modern central Europe, the political and constitutional history of the Holy Roman Empire, early modern international relations, and the long-term impact of the Peace of Westphalia with a particular emphasis on its mutual guarantee. At the Forum on Geopolitics, he is a Research Affiliate of the ‘A Westphalia for the Middle East’ Laboratory for World Construction, which seeks to draw lessons from the treaties of Westphalia (1648) for a new peace settlement for the Middle East. He was previously a visiting fellow at the Leibniz-Institute of European History, Mainz. He holds a PhD and a BA in History from the University of Cambridge, and an MA in International Relations from the University of Warwick. His work has been awarded the 2013 German History Society/Royal Historical Society Postgraduate Essay Prize.
Rainer Neske
  • Rainer Neske is working with the Forum on Geopolitics on a series entitled 'German Geopolitics Today'. Born in Münster, Germany, in 1964, Mr. Neske is Chairman of the board of Trustees of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, a member of the Management Board of the non-profit Hertie Foundation and also a member of the Advisory Board of Deutsche Vermögensberatung AG. Furthermore, he is a member of the Supervisory Board of Save the Children Deutschland e.V.
  • Until June 2015, Mr. Neske was a member of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee of Deutsche Bank AG. As the Global Head of the business division Private & Business Clients, he had global responsibility for the Private & Business Clients corporate division, operating under the brand names Deutsche Bank, Postbank and Berliner Bank.
  • Mr. Neske studied Computer Science and Business Administration at the University of Karlsruhe. He joined Deutsche Bank in 1990 and initially worked in a number of management positions, primarily in the Information Technology area. In 1999, Mr. Neske was appointed a senior executive of Deutsche Bank 24 AG. In 2001, he became Deputy Spokesman. In March 2003, he became Spokesman of the company's Management Board. At the same time, he was made a member of the Group Executive Committee (GEC) of Deutsche Bank AG. On April 1, 2009 Mr. Neske was appointed to the Management Board of Deutsche Bank AG.
Dr Aaron Rapport
  • Aaron Rapport is a lecturer in Cambridge's Department of Politics and International Studies and a fellow at Corpus Christi College. He was previously an assistant professor of political science at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Prior to receiving his PhD in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, he held pre-doctoral fellowships at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. His research interests include international security, political psychology, and U.S. foreign policy. His book, _Waging War, Planning Peace: U.S. Noncombat Operations and Major Wars_, was published in 2015 by Cornell University Press in its Security Affairs series. His work has also appeared in leading journals of international relations such as International Security, International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Peace Research, and Security Studies. He has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on international relations theory, foreign policy analysis, security studies, and qualitative research methodology.
Dr Maeve Ryan
  • Maeve Ryan is a Lecturer in History and Grand Strategy at King's College London. Her broad area of specialization is nineteenth-century British imperial history, with a specific interest in sub-Saharan Africa, the East and West African slave trades, and their legacies. She holds a PhD from Trinity College Dublin and an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge.
Tim Sebastian
  • Tim Sebastian is a journalist and broadcaster, currently the presenter of Conflict Zone on DW Television. He has been a BBC foreign correspondent, based in Warsaw, Moscow and Washington, and reported for BBC Television from more than 25 countries over a 30-year period.
  • He is perhaps best known for being the first host of the BBC’s flagship interview programme Hardtalk – for which he was twice named Interviewer of the Year by the Royal Television Society. Sebastian has also won the Society’s Television Journalist of the Year award, as well as BAFTA’s Richard Dimbleby Award for the most important personal contribution to factual television.
  • In the last 10 years he has worked extensively in the Middle East, founding and presenting the Doha Debates on BBC TV and the New Arab Debates on DW.
  • He is a board member of Democracy Reporting International, a Berlin-based NGO that promotes democracy, primarily in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
  • He graduated in modern languages from Oxford University and is the author of eight novels and two non-fiction titles.