What is geopolitics? Definition, training, opportunities and challenges

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A considerable success, this is what the word geopolitics has known for several years. Geopolitical stakes, geopolitical risks or geopolitical conflicts, this term is often repeated. The question is: what is geopolitics? Historians and geographers are struggling to define this concept as precisely as possible. What is certain is that not everything is geopolitical.

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What is geopolitics?

Analyzing international relations, understanding society, examining natural and social changes brought about by globalization or studying political strategies, many activities are intimately linked to geopolitics. However, what is geopolitics?

It can be defined as an analysis ofyesterday’s world in order to better understand today’s world, while anticipating tomorrow’s. This concept also highlights certain rivalries of power for or over territory, necessarily implying a struggle for sovereignty or influence between the protagonists. The idea of territory here refers to a geographical area with :

  • its limits and boundaries ;
  • its relief forms ;
  • the course of its waterways;
  • the contours of its shores;
  • its maritime spaces;
  • its geological resources;
  • its traffic routes;
  • the location of its cities;
  • the distribution of its stands.

It can also be a cyberspace where various rivalries can be expressed between economic or state actors.

Geopolitics is also a multisectoral field of study that brings together various disciplines. This ranges from history, to the study of migration flows and demographics, to politics, international relations and geography.

However, it has various dimensions (environmental, cultural, scientific, technological, social, demographic and political). Each of them has specific strategic objectives and interests, but they can be pooled. It is then possible to diversify and multiply the subjects that can be approached in the field of geopolitics.

What are the challenges of the geopolitics sector?

Geopolitics is a field that deals with a wide range of issues, all of which are objects of international and local relations. It is meant to be reassuring in an ambiguous and complex contemporary world through its analysis of human society through various dimensions. Anticipating, studying and taking up all the future challenges of humanity is one of its major axes.

In a society where interdependence is de rigueur, it is becoming essential to control the management of exchanges and flows, while preventing all possible crises. Geopolitics will help to understand the major issues of tomorrow and provide effective solutions in the long term.

Issues addressed in geopolitics are:

  • demographic and cultural (decline or growth of populations, major population movements, permanence and use of languages);
  • security (management of terrorist threats, control of weapons of mass destruction, limitation of nuclear proliferation risks);
  • related to resources (sanitation, access to drinking water, access to energy resources, access to natural resources);
  • (global networks, polarization, digital divide, economic interweaving);
  • environmental issues (e.g. global warming);
  • (separatisms, regionalisms, unification movements).

Why do you want to study geopolitics?

There are several reasons for wanting to study geopolitics. It is a springboard for students wishing to continue their studies or pursue a career in the various related fields. Studying geopolitics also allows for a better understanding of global issues related to territory and which are a source of conflict.

You will then be able to provide solutions (measures and ideas) that can improve the situation. Your contribution will help limit the irreversible consequences that may result from these evils and will help you become a responsible, critical and proactive citizen.

How to train in geopolitics?

Geopolitics is at the confluence of several disciplines and human sciences (law, geography, history, international relations and foreign affairs). To train for this, you can follow a geopolitical specialization course of 3 to 8 years in a specialized school such as HEIP, the School of Higher International and Political Studies.

Why choose HEIP to study geopolitics and international relations?

Founded in 1899, HEIP is a pioneer school in the field of international relations and political science. Students in geopolitics and international relations benefit from dedicated support. They are followed from the first year of their Bachelor’s degree until they obtain their MSc (Master Of Science) degree by a high quality faculty, all experts in their fields.

The result is numerous professional opportunities in both the public and private sectors, or the possibility of opening up to other training courses with a view to obtaining a double degree.

What are the career opportunities in the field of geopolitics?

A student with a degree in geopolitics can have access to numerous job opportunities in a wide variety of sectors, with interesting prospects for advancement. You have the opportunity to make a career in research institutes, consulting firms, local and regional authorities, French governmental organizations, large industrial companies and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). You can work as a geopolitician, geopolitical analyst, diplomat, international strategy analyst, risk management project manager or compliance officer.

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Updated 12 March 2024