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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems
Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project

Ali Ansari is Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project at the Centre for Geopolitics, and the Professor in Modern History with reference to the Middle East at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he is also the founding director of the Institute for Iranian Studies. He is Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI and currently AHRC/ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the FCO. Professor Ansari is a regular contributor to the international media on political developments in Iran, and has widely published on the history of Iran.

Charles Clarke
Joint Leader of the Baltic Geopolitics Programme

Charles Clarke was Member of Parliament for Norwich South from 1997 to 2010. He served as Education Minister from 1998 and then in the Home Office from 1999 to 2001. He then joined the Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio and Labour Party Chair. From 2002 to 2004 he was Secretary of State for Education and Skills and then Home Secretary until 2006. 

Charles was previously Chief of Staff to Neil Kinnock, Leader of the Labour Opposition and a councillor in the London Borough of Hackney, chairing the housing committee. 

He now holds Visiting Professorships at Lancaster University and Kings College London and works with educational organisations internationally. He is a consultant on international education reform for Cambridge Partnership for Education and co-leads the Baltic Geopolitics programme at the Cambridge University Centre for Geopolitics. 

In 2011 the Centre for European Reform published his ‘The EU and Migration: A Call for Action’. In 2014 he published ‘The Too Difficult Box’, an analysis of the problems which need to be overcome in promoting change, and in September 2015 two studies in political leadership, ‘British Labour Leaders’ and ‘British Conservative Leaders’; in 2015 he wrote, with Professor Linda Woodhead, “A New Settlement, Religion and Belief in Schools”; in 2020 he wrote, with Professor Ed Byrne, “The University Challenge”. 

Mr Clarke read mathematics and economics at Kings College Cambridge and was then President of the National Union of Students. Born in 1950, Mr Clarke married in 1984. He and his wife Carol, who is of Estonian heritage, have two sons. He lives in Cambridge. 

Barry Colfer
Research Fellow, St Edmund’s College and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Barry is a Research Fellow at St Edmund’s College and the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS). His research interests include: the implications of Brexit for Ireland, the politics of European integration and the future of work. Barry holds a PhD from POLIS and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the Polytechnic University of Turin.

In 2021-2022 Barry will hold a prestigious Max Weber postdoctoral fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, where he will undertake research into the state of European social democracy. Barry has worked previously at Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament), at the European Parliament and with a range of leading think-tanks.

Media Consultant

Mike holds the media consultancy contract for the Centre. He is responsible for raising the public profile of our work and is our primary point of contact for the national and international media. Mike was a radio, television and print journalist for over 30 years, the last 20 of which were with the BBC.

Associate Fellow, Head, Japan and Koreas Programme
Fuji Bank Associate Professor in Japanese Politics and International Relations

John Nilsson-Wright (formerly Swenson-Wright) is an associate professor at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (FAMES), University of Cambridge and an official fellow at Darwin College. He is a graduate of Christ Church and St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and SAIS Johns Hopkins University. He was head of the Chatham House Asia Programme from March 2014 to October 2016 and has also been the senior research fellow for Northeast Asia and Korea Foundation Fellow with Chatham House’s Asia-Pacific Programme. He is also a non-resident fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, Republic of Korea; senior non-resident fellow at the Korea Centre, East Asia Institute, National University of Singapore (NUS); and a non-resident fellow at the Centre for North Korean Studies at the University of Vienna. His research focuses on Cold War history including US-Japan alliance ties, and the contemporary international relations and politics of Northeast Asia, with reference to Japan and the Koreas. In his policy work, he focuses on regional security and the changing nature of alliance relations in East Asia. He is currently writing a monograph on populism and identity politics as a contemporary and historical phenomenon in both Europe and Northeast Asia.

 Timothy   Less
Convener of the Geopolitical Risk Analysis Study Group
Member of Darwin College

Timothy Less runs the study group in geopolitical risk analysis at the Centre for Geopolitics. He also works as a consultant for the private sector with a specialisation in the politics of central and eastern Europe about which he writes and comments for the media. Previously, Tim taught Eastern European Politics at the University of Kent and worked as an analyst, diplomat and policymaker at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office where he led the Countries at Risk of Instability project and ran the British Embassy Office in Banja Luka and the EU Institutions department. Tim holds an MA in Eastern European Studies from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, an MSt in International Relations and a PhD in modern history from the University of Cambridge. His recent publications include the ‘City Risk Index 2022’ (co-author, Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies, January 2023); ‘The New Warsaw Pact’ (Engelsberg Ideas, May 2023); and ‘What If? Ten Geopolitical Risks to Keep You Awake at Night’ (GIRO conference paper, November 2023).

 Suzanne   Raine
Affiliated Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University

Suzanne Raine is an Affiliate Lecturer at the Centre for Geopolitics at Cambridge University. She served for 24 years in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on foreign policy and national security issues.  This included postings in Poland, Iraq and Pakistan.  She specialised in counter-terrorism, holding a number of senior domestic appointments including Head of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre from 2015-2017 and was  a senior member of the UK government assessment community.  She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).