Geopolitical Scenario Planning: National Security, Geo-Economics and Foreign Policy Strategy [Summer School]


Period: 30 July – 3 August 2018; Fee: €600; ECTS credits: 2; Program: available by the end of June; Language: English; Application process: Maastricht University; Application deadline: 9 July 2018; Accomodation: Maastricht Housing; Funding: Not available

Geopolitical Scenario Planning: National Security, Geo-Economics and Foreign Policy StrategyDescription
The rise of China, increased uncertainty about US foreign policy and growing concerns about natural resources scarcity underline the relevance of geopolitical complexity in international relations. This course teaches you the skills to study geopolitical drivers of inter-state conflicts, write scenarios for these conflicts and assess the impact of these scenarios on the foreign policy strategy of the states involved.

Why are safeguarding national security and projecting power abroad often seen as essential national interests? What is the difference between geopolitics and geo-economics, and what are their respective roles in foreign policy? And how can scenario planning help you define plausible futures for territorial/maritime conflicts, and likely responses to them by the states involved? To answer these questions, you first do an analysis of the foreign policy strategy of a state that is involved in an inter-state conflict about a particular area. Then follows an assignment in which you analyse the geopolitical risk drivers of the disputed area and write scenarios for this area. The final assignment concerns an assessment of the possible responses of a particular state to each scenario. You present all your findings in class. Interactive lectures and roundtable discussions help you prepare for your assignments. Related Summer School courses from Leonhardt are Geopolitical Framing Analysis: National Images, World Views and Global Dividing Lines, Political Risk Analysis: Domestic Factors, International Relations and Economic Impact Assessment and Country Risk Analysis: Growth Potential, Economic Policy and External Finances of Emerging Markets.
▪ Understanding how national security as a key national interest can be defined by states;
▪ Designing an analytical framework to study the role of geopolitical, geo-economic and geostrategic factors in foreign policy;
▪ Writing scenarios for areas that are contested by multiple states and exploring plausible responses by these states;
▪ Developing your critical thinking skills by productively combining knowledge, assumptions and questions;
▪ Boosting your employability by acquiring valuable skills required for positions in business, government and academia.
Course Leader
Leonhardt van Efferink first worked as country risk analyst for 12 years. From 2010 until 2017, he did a PhD that straddles the boundary between geopolitics and media studies (PhD defence in December 2017, final version of thesis due in 2018). Students of his 2017 Summer Schools gave him an average of 9.5/10 for his teaching skills. Former Summer School student Casper from Denmark recommends him because “Leonhardt brings with him a wealth of knowledge in Country Risk Analysis, Geo-politics, Economics and Scenario Thinking. He always taking into consideration cultural differences and individuals learning styles of his students. More importantly, Leonhardt understands the importance of linking theoretical models with practical examples from the real world.”
▪ Strong motivation and good command of English are essential to get a pass for the course;
▪ Basic knowledge of (geo)political ideas and trends is recommended;
▪ Aimed at Bachelor/ Master/ PhD students in Political Sciences/ International Relations/ Geography/ History/ Economics/ Business/ Media Studies/ Journalism/ Cultural Studies/ Linguistics. Professionals with various backgrounds benefitted as well from taking previous editions of the course. If in doubt, please contact Leonhardt for personal course selection advice.
Recommended literature
Country Risk Analysis (Political Instability): Domestic Politics, Foreign Policy Strategy and Geopolitical Scenario Planning▪ Beasley, R.K., Kaarbo, J., Lantis, J.S. and Snarr, M.T. (2013) Foreign Policy in Comparative Perspective – Domestic and International Influences on State Behaviour. SAGE;
▪ Breuning, M. (2007) Foreign Policy Analysis – A Comparative Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan;
▪ Buzan, B., Waever, O. and De Wilde, J. (1998) Security. A New Framework for Analysis. Rienner;
▪ Fierke, K.M. (2015) Critical approaches to international security. 2nd Edn. Polity Press;
▪ Flint, C. (2017) Introduction to Geopolitics. 3nd Edn. Routledge;
▪ Jarvis, K. and Holland, J. (2015) Security. A Critical Introduction. Palgrave;
▪ Gray, C.S. and Sloan, G. (eds., 1999) Geopolitics. Geography and Strategy. CASS;
▪ Kelly, E. (2006) Powerful Times. Rising to the Challenge of our Uncertain World. Wharton School Publishing;
▪ Lindgren, M. and Bandhold, H. (2009) Scenario Planning. The Link between Future and Strategy. Palgrave;
▪ Nye, J. S. Jr. and Welch, D.A. (2016) Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation: An Introduction to Theory and History. 10th Edn. Pearson;
▪ Smith, M.A. (2012) Power in the Changing Global Order. Polity Books;
▪ Smith, S., Hadfield, A. and Dunne, T. (eds., 2016) Foreign Policy – Theories, Actors, Cases. 3rd Edn. Oxford University Press;
▪ Schwartz, P. (1996) The Art of the Long View – Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World. Wiley;
You are further recommended to read some of these posts on Leonhardt’s website: Please note that it is not required to do some reading before the course. If you like to read something, select a book that is closest to your research interests or ask Leonhardt for personal reading advice. For more suggested reading materials, check the following reading lists:
Teaching methods
▪ Lectures ▪ Presentations ▪ Work in subgroups
Assessment methods
▪ Attendance ▪ Participation ▪ Presentation
▪ Analytical Skills ▪ Employability ▪ Geopolitics ▪ Geo-Economics ▪ Geostrategy▪ National Security ▪ National Power ▪ National Interests ▪ Foreign Policy Strategy ▪ Foreign Policy Analysis ▪ Scenario Planning


  1. Good morning, my name is Timmy Hervas from Ecuador, I´m really interesteded in taking this course and I´d like to have whether possible additional information in terms of budget required in order to afford all expenses, such as housing, food, transportation, tuition, etc.
    Thanks in advance.
    Timmy Hervas

    • Leonhardt van Efferink

      Dear Timmy,
      Thanks for your message. Your total budget depends on your own preferences for accomodation, transport etc, so I cannot give you an amount. For the costs of a Summer School room in Maastricht, please check
      Kind regards,

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