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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.

The Centre for Geopolitics has launched a new research programme with the aim of increasing understanding of the geopolitics of the Baltic and the UK's role in it. 

This programme operates within the existing European research strand.

The Baltic Sea region – defined here as the littoral of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden – has been an area of considerable importance to England, Scotland and then the United Kingdom. In the 16th and 17th Centuries it was a vital trading partner and source of fish, timber, furs and many other products. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Royal Navy drew most of its naval stores from the Baltic, watched jealously over the balance of power in that region and intervened against Russia. In the 20th Century, Britain encouraged the independence of the Baltic states in 1918-19 and fought both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis there. Later, the Baltic states, which regained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1990-91 and then secured membership in the European Union and NATO, were supported by the British government. And British forces today provide the backbone of NATO deterrence against Vladimir Putin in Estonia.
Despite this history, there is considerable ignorance in the contemporary UK about the area. Much of its history, language and culture is not taught in our universities. As Britain withdraws from the ordering system of the European Union but remains deeply engaged in the politics of the continent through NATO and other bonds, this is not a sustainable situation.
The Centre plans to address this gap and, to this end, the Baltic Geopolitics Programme was launched on 20 January 2021 with the keynote from HE Kersti Kaljulaid, the President of Estonia.  We intend to establish a fully-funded Baltic programme, centred on the study of the modern history (from about 1600) and current geopolitics of the Baltic, with a particular emphasis on relations with Britain. We have begun with a series of events, collaborating with pockets of expertise at other UK universities as well as universities in the Baltic region, and building a caucus of those interested in Baltic issues at Cambridge. We now hope to move through the establishment of a three to five-year research and teaching fellowship from 2022, to the endowment of a lectureship and a chair capable of supporting PhD candidates by 2025. 
The programme has already made great strides in the past year to achieve its aims. We recruited our first Baltic Geopolitics Research Fellow, Dr Donatas Kupčiūnas and he has assisted Professor Brendan Simms and Centre Research Assistant Hugo Bromley in putting together a course on "Britain and the geopolitics of the Baltic (16th Century to present)" to an international group of MPhil students. Professor Simms and Hugo Bromley are compiling a sourcebook on Britain's role in the Baltic from around 1500 to the present day which will provide an important academic foundation for future work. We participated with the University of Gdansk in a successful two-day conference on the Baltic borderlands which took place on 8th-9th October in Gdansk. The conference followed the Warsaw Security Forum on 5 & 6 October where the Centre was represented by Suzanne Raine and Rt Hon Charles Clarke. We hope to pursue further partnership arrangements with other universities in our academic network, in the future. 

The Centre has organised a range of events bringing together speakers from diverse disciplines and perspectives. They have approached questions such as the Baltics and Brexit, Baltic energy security, and nuclear power in the Baltic. A full list of the programme's future and past events can be found below.

View the programme’s brochure here.

To receive invitations to upcoming events, subscribe to the Centre's mailing list here and be sure to tick "Baltic" under your areas of interest.