Accueil > Grand strategy in diplomacy past and present


Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


There is no strict prerequisite for this course but students should preferably have some previous knowledge of international relations theory, diplomatic history and contemporary events.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to grand strategy in diplomacy. It will review the sources, processes, pressures and challenges of crafting and implementing a grand strategy, taking the perspective of the practitioner and decision-maker. It will study three memoranda that introduced new grand strategies for major powers, drafted by three master strategists (Otto von Bismarck and the Pracht Schrift, Eyre Crowe and the Crowe Memorandum and George F. Kennan and the Long Telegram), as well as analyze their respective successes, failures and legacies. The course will then address a number of contemporary crises and issues from the vantage point of grand strategy, providing students with the analytical tools to better frame and examine (through comparison or abstraction) diplomatic challenges and responses. These crises will include the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq, the annexations and provocations by Russia in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, the reclamations by China in the South China Seas, the confrontations between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and India and Pakistan in South Asia, the deconstruction of collective security at the United Nations, among others. The course will also address the question of whether grand strategy is attainable for small states and will look into a specific case, Costa Rica, a small country without an army that is in the unenviable position of not having the luxury of threatening to use “all options”. The second-to-last session will consist of presentations of draft memoranda prepared by students, while the last session will draw from the previous sessions in providing lessons and conclusions on grand strategy in diplomacy.


STAGNO UGARTE, Bruno (Professeur associé à Sciences Po, Deputy Executive Director Human Rights Watch)

Pedagogical format

Interactive lectures followed by intensive discussion.

Course validation

2,000-word policy memo (35%), 5,000-word country grand strategy paper (55%) and class participation (10%).


Extensive reading as well as a policy memo and a country grand strategy paper. The policy memo will address a specific major crisis from the vantage point of a foreign ministry officer while the country grand strategy paper will make the case that a specific country does or does not have a grand contemporary strategy. Crises and countries will be selected in conjunction with the instructor.