Schachbrett mit zwei Figuren

08.11.2023: Recon­cep­tu­a­li­zing Grand Stra­t­egy: A New Ana­ly­tic Fra­me­work

Foreign Policy Lab Lecture Series 2023 with Thierry Balzacq, Sciences Po.

Fakultätssitzungssaal, University of Innsbruck, SoWi building, 3rd floor east, Universitätsstraße 15, 6020 Innsbruck (A) (how to reach us)

Wednesday, November 8th, 2023

5:30-7:00 pm CET

The lecture will be held in English.


Grand strategy is a thriving field. Yet the foundational assumptions of most contemporary scholarship are both theoretically and empirically limiting. As currently constituted, work on grand strategy focuses on the United States and a few other great powers. Scholars debate definitions and offer prescriptions. They alternatively treat grand strategies as architectures or subject to constant revision; they largely favor a systemic approach that focuses on structural factors as determinative, understating the significance of domestic politics; and they consistently fail to appreciate the essentially relational character of any grand strategy. Fundamentally, the field lacks a framework for the systematic study of grand strategy. We modestly attempt to begin to address this problem. The presentation has two interrelated components. First, we identify a new, contrasting set of assumptions. Second, we employ them to construct a framework that will potentially allow scholars to systematically, relationally study national grand strategies. Initiating work on such a framework, we argue, may subsequently help develop an understanding of underlying causative relations, expand the universe of cases, acknowledge the relational and interactive character of grand strategies.

Prof. Thierry Balzacq

Portrait Thierry Balzacq

Thierry Balzacq is Professor of International Relations at Sciences Po (“exceptional class”) and Professorial Fellow at CERI-Sciences Po, Paris. He also serves as Director of Graduate Studies in Political Science at the same University. His research focuses upon comparative grand strategies, diplomatic studies, and securitization theory. He was the 2022/2023 Susan Strange Professor in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and George Soros Visiting Chair and Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Public Policy at Central European University in Vienna (Spring 2022). He was named Francqui Research Professor (Belgium's highest academic distinction) in 2016. In 2014, he was awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Diplomacy and International Security. He has published over fifteen books in English and French, including The Oxford Handbook of Grand Strategy (Oxford University Press, co-ed. with Ronald R. Krebs, 2021), Comparative Grand Strategy: A Framework and Cases (Oxford University Press, co.-d. with Peter Dombrowski and Simon Reich, 2019), and Théories de la sécurité (Presses de Sciences Po, 2016). He is working on two manuscripts, one of which is under contract with OUP on Diplomatic Rituals and the Making of International Society. He co-edits the Oxford Studies in Grand Strategy book series. He holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and completed his postdoctoral studies at Harvard.

Moderation: Assoz. Prof. Dr Franz Eder, Department of Political Science, University of Innsbruck.

Discuss with us!
We look forward to welcoming you to the Department of Political Science!
The event will take place on site (no livestream).
No registration necessary.

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