Institut français de géopolitique (IFG)

The significance of geopolitical issues

It is now hard to dismiss the importance of geopolitical issues. And this term is used in geography, as well as economics, law, history, etc.

It is used to describe an extremely wide range of situations, and so tensions between India and Pakistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Corsican nationalism and the crisis in France’s outer-city suburbs, are all analysed as geopolitical issues. These are important contemporary issues, which can lead to serious conflicts and political decisions with significant consequences for a country.

L’école française de géopolitique (The French School of Geopolitics) at Paris 8 University

Paris 8 University paved the way for the university study of geopolitics with the creation of its first degree in geopolitical studies (DEA) in 1989, along with the first geopolitical research centre for doctoral students. In 1992, the French Ministry for Research and Higher Education conferred the first Chair in Geopolitics to the Department of Geography at Paris 8 University.

These innovations were linked to the Revue de géographie et de géopolitique Hérodote, a journal of geography and geopolitics, which was founded in 1976 by the geographer Yves Lacoste, a professor at Paris 8 University at the time. It is the leading journal in this field in terms of circulation, international distribution and number of subscribers.

These courses were an immediate success (more than 100 applications every year for the master’s programme and several dozen for the doctorate). This success led to the founding of the French Institute of Geopolitics (IFG) by the French Ministry for Research and Higher Education.

Students come from both national and international backgrounds (Russia, Hungary, Central Asia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Spain, Côte d’Ivoire, Greece, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, Mexico, Brazil, China, Korea, etc).

The French School of Geopolitics was born right here at Paris 8 University.

Geopolitics and geography: a scientific discipline and a practical skill

Geopolitics is a way of analysing the issues of the contemporary world and shedding as much light as possible on specific situations but without simplifying them. A geopolitical expert is able to provide the reader and the policy-maker with the means to assess the difficulties and contradictions, both practical and theoretical, inherent in these complex situations. Geopolitical analysis is an intellectual practice that contributes to the quality of political debate in France, and a practical skill that aids policy-making.

This practical aspect of this academic field makes it particularly valuable in the world of work. For this reason, the research master’s, as well as the professional master’s and the IFG, have been recognised by the Île-de-France region as suitable for apprenticeship programmes.

From the outset, our doctoral programme in geopolitics has been defined by its multi-disciplinary spirit, as the complexity of geopolitical situations demands various different kinds of knowledge in order to understand them. Our junior researchers and staff come from a wide variety of scientific backgrounds, bringing together geographers, political scientists, historians, legal experts and economists. Geographical reasoning is essential to understanding geopolitical issues, as countries are the stage on which power rivalries are exposed whether on the global, national, regional or local level. This is why reflections on the cartographic representation of geopolitical issues is one the IFG’s main research areas.

Our geopolitics course was restructured in 2020 and three new areas of specialisation were added to the second year of the Territoire et enjeux de pouvoir (Territories and Power Dynamics) master’s. The Gestion des risques géopolitiques (Geopolitical Risk Management) course is highly practical and vocational in terms of its content. Students receive training in geopolitical studies that can be applied in economic and military organisations, and NGOs. The specialisation in Cyberstratégie et terrain numérique (Cyberstrategy and Digital Terrain) examines a new field in which many rivalries come to the fore and is supported by the GEODE Centre of Excellence. From 2021, this course will be accompanied by a Specialised Higher University Studies Diploma (DFFSU) entitled Révolution numérique: enjeux stratégiques et géopolitiques (The Digital Revolution: Strategic and Geopolitical Issues), which has primarily been designed for professionals. The specialisation in Espaces russes et post-soviétiques (Russian and Post-Soviet Spaces) is a historical field of research at the IFG, and includes the option of studying at the RGGU in Moscow for one semester. The three areas of specialisation can be completed as a work/study programme (see conditions) and can be continued at doctoral level.

Local geopolitics: a unique, ground-breaking course

What makes the IFG so unique is its success in opening up the field of local geopolitics and applying geopolitical analysis methods to local conflicts. French decentralisation laws have significantly strengthened the powers of local and regional authorities (municipalities, departments, regions) and, therefore, the responsibilities of elected representatives. These representatives now find themselves faced with the management of regional and local issues that may give rise to conflict, particularly with regard to planning. Furthermore, intermunicipal development in France has brought about new internal conflicts within the administration and other levels of the decision-making process. Finally, the growing role of the European Union in terms of regulation and funding has forced local stakeholders to develop specific strategies within a context of strong regional rivalries.

Businesses are also concerned with local geopolitical contexts. The growth of democracy and increased public awareness on environmental issues have created a new context, which has led to an extension of the field of political and geopolitical issues. The question of conflict management in environmental and planning matters has therefore become a key issue for companies and decision-makers.

Courses on offer

  • Master’s Year One, Geopolitics
  • Master 2 géopolitique locale et gouvernance territoriale (aménagement, concertation) (Master’s Year 2, Local Geopolitics and Territorial Administration: Planning, Dialogue)
  • Master 2 géopolitique: territoires et enjeux de pouvoir (Master’s Year 2, Geopolitics: Territories and Power Dynamics)
  • Doctorate

Université Paris 8
Institut français de géopolitique (IFG)
Building D – 3rd floor
2, rue de la Liberté, 93526 SAINT-DENIS