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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems
Europe map

Europe, Winston Churchill said shortly before the First World War, ‘is where the weather comes from’. Even if that is not quite so true today, the ‘old continent’ still has the capacity to surprise and shock us, most recently with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Moreover, just as in the past, what happens in Europe does not stay in Europe: the global ripples of the Ukraine War with regard to inflation, food shortages and energy price rises, are a testament to that. So understanding Europe remains critically important in our time as well.

Our starting point is that Europe has always been shaped by an order – or orders. Historically, most of these have been internal to the continent, though over the past one hundred years external powers have become more prominent. Today, we once again find ourselves in the force field of competing orders: the European Union, Brexited Britain, the USA in the aftermath of Trump, or Putin’s Russia. Many of these actors are themselves internally conflicted about their place in the world and their attitude toward Europe.

The European Strand offers research programmes dealing with the whole of the continent, paying particular attention to the United Kingdom’s ordering role, past and present, as well as the interaction between ‘Europe’ and the UK constitution as an incorporating Union of Four Nations. In this context, the flagship Baltic Geopolitics Programme (launched in January 2020) investigates the enduring role that the UK has played in this vital geopolitical space. It is led by former Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Centre Director Brendan Simms, and has one Research Fellow, Dr Donatas Kupciunas of Wolfson College, with another post about to be filled. The UK Union Programme, under the leadership of Research Fellow Dr Hugo Bromley (Robinson College) has begun to explore the ways in which the Union emerged as a geopolitical and political economy project, and the challenges it faces today.

Our first priority for the future is to secure funding for a permanent lectureship or chair in Baltic Geopolitics, in order to provide supervision at graduate level in that area. Equally important is getting the Union project underway through the establishment of a five-year research project. We also plan to develop programmes on Britain and the Mediterranean and Britain and the North Sea and North Atlantic, both areas of great importance past and present.