What can we learn about how attempts to create order in the world have to do with how things are connected and disconnected?
How is it that nationalisms and identities, economic systems, ideologies, inequalities, environmental and health issues, as well as belief systems, are used to connect and disconnect people, ideas, and places creating (new) geopolitical realities?
In this track you will be introduced to a novel approach, developed and led by colleagues at Groningen, to understand geopolitics as a connectivity effect. You will learn how spaces are, and have been, the result of connecting (strategically or not), many of the issues mentioned above. Drawing on historical and contemporary case studies and issues, you will develop unique analytical skills to approach any geopolitical issue in time.
Some questions inspired by this approach are, for example, how has the United States tried to change the terms under which it connects to the world in an attempt to force a different geopolitical context? How is China resetting the terms for its global connectivity through its Belt and Road initiative(s)? How is the European Union attempting to develop an environmental agenda to connect its members and create its geopolitical projection in the world? How do actors in the global realm challenge or benefit from these geopolitical aspirations? How do certain people and regions choose, and have chosen, to geopolitically disconnect from global designs?
Methodologically, you will learn how conflicts and wars, pandemics and environmental disasters, economic and financial crises, systemic infrastructural failures, and different forms of radicalisms, alert us of failing connectivities and the emerging of new ones, and how you can use these connectivities to understand and theorize an ever-emerging world. You will learn how geopolitical designs in time have resulted from the strategic connection of complex issues and interests, and how such designs have resulted from thinking space and power creatively.
"The rise of China, wavering American support for NATO, Russia encroaching on its neighbours – talk about geopolitics has a strong presence both in the news and in public debate. I think it is important for students of IR not only to be able to talk about geopolitics, but also to thoroughly think about it. The new MA-track Geopolitics & Connectivity will allow you to do just that, by integrating innovative thinking about space, power, order, and connectivity in the study of geopolitics.
I myself greatly benefited from the research seminar Geopolitics & Connectivity. In an enthusiastic and inspiring fashion, IR staff members guide students through a wide range of geopolitical problems: from the historical creation of global empires, to contemporary debates about geologistics and geopolitical strategy. This has allowed me to think critically about the relation between geopolitics and connectivity.
The insights I have obtained in this course are invaluable for me as a student of IR, but also professionally. Both the empirical knowledge I have acquired in Geopolitics & Connectivity and the ability to think about geopolitics in an innovative fashion, are central to the PhD position I aim to obtain."
“Geopolitics and Connectivity helped me to understand the the bigger picture and the small details of International relations at the same time. If forces you to think of the small details that may seem insignificant but influence the big picture a lot. I acquired skills how to dig deeper into topics and find out things that are underlying main topics. In addition, Geopolitics & Connectivity helped me to get familiar with different research methods and referencing sources.
Currently, as one of the members of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of European Union organising team, we need to be aware of the Geopolitical topics of Europe and even further. Also, a dedicated and very helpful staff makes the studying process even more interesting.”
"For me, geopolitics is a topic that combines history, geography, global economy and human interaction. The topic interested me before I followed Geopolitics & Connectivity, but I never really knew how to analyse and interpret the world through Geopolitics. Only after I followed this track and wrote my Master Thesis on geopolitics, I really understood why the topic had interested me so much before.
The course offered me the philosophical insights and practical examples to see the real working of geopolitics, specifically through infrastructure and global trade. Subjects like the power of maps, the influence of infrastructure projects like the Panama Canal (and its effect on economies throughout the world) and the linkage between logistics and political influence had one important thing in common. They all pointed to space and how it is constantly strategised.
Besides all this, the course helped me to decide what I sought for in a possible job. For me, success in finding a job in the field of International Relations really depends on how good you are in explaining your interests and connecting a professional position to that interest. Geopolitics & Connectivity was an important part in my process to exactly that."
“This track revolves around a fascinating idea: that every national border, every map, every international treaty, as well as every transoceanic journey, and migration corridor, produces a specific political order in the world.
This helped me understanding that aspects that we now see as natural, such as the using the Greenwich prime meridian, moving freely across the Schengen Area or consuming products manufactured in Asia or Latin America, are actually effects of political orders, power relations, and historical forces. This is a highly valuable idea for anyone who is interested in making sense of a in a heavily interconnected world and its multiple dimensions.
In my experience, Geopolitics and Connectivity has proved to be valuable both in practical and academic spheres. Learning how to think and engage with problematizations is not only useful in the professional environments. It also fosters our creativity and reflexivity in our solutions. On the other hand, this seminar also exposed me to an extensive body of critical, interdisciplinary, and challenging literature. The latter provides a solid foundation to think and write about our world.”
Are you a non-EU/EEA student from Russia, India or Indonesia, starting a Master's programme at the Faculty of Arts? If so, you could qualify for the University of Groningen OTS/Talent Grant, Faculty of Arts, a partial scholarship which helps you to finance your studies.
Read more about the OTS/Talent Grant Faculty of Arts.