NASA astronaut Scott Kelly took this photograph of a moonrise over the western united states.

Lockdown Learning: Online Courses for the Quarantined Analyst

With an estimated 20% of the global population now under some form of Covid-19 lockdown, many of us have found ourselves restricted to our homes. With that in mind, the team at Encyclopedia Geopolitica have compiled this list of edX online courses relevant to those in the geopolitical world, and for those looking to enter the industry.


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The geopolitical analysis industry has once again been thrown into the spotlight by a major crisis. As the unprecedented impact of Coronavirus has made itself felt across almost all sectors of the global economy, industry leaders have turned to their Intelligence and Security teams for insight into how this situation may play out, hoping to gain an edge in the deployment of their corporate responses and their war-chests in order to best survive the looming economic shock. As happens following most major crises, the geopolitical intelligence world is likely to expand, and maintaining a sharpened toolkit is critical for any analysts seeking to capitalise on this. The following courses are recommended by the Encyclopedia Geopolitica team:

Terrorism and Counterterrorism – Georgetown University

This 50-70 hour course delivered by some of the biggest names in the Terrorism Studies world should be considered as critical training for anyone working in the counterterrorism space. Professors Daniel Byman and Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service lead this course along with multiple highly respected guest lecturers. The course dives in-depth into the nature of terrorist groups ranging from Northern Ireland’s IRA through to the Islamic Jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and explores counterterrorism responses ranging from the Israeli security services through to US government policy. This course explores both the tactics, techniques and procedures developed by terrorists and their adversaries around the world, the history behind some of the most dangerous groups, and the successes and failures of those seeking to challenge them. The current course is open until 31 May 2020 and is available in certified format for $45.

From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development – University of Oxford

Economics are a critical component of geopolitics, and in this 12-18 hour course, students will gain an understanding of the political, social, and economic processes that elevate societies from poverty to prosperity. Led by Professor Paul Collier, this course explores the various paths of development that different countries have taken, and the internal and external processes that can help or hinder a nation on the road to prosperity. This course is available in certified format for $149.99.

Epidemics I & II – The University of Hong Kong

Two highly topical courses given current circumstances; these free courses from the University of Hong Kong explore the prevention and control of epidemics through a series of lectures by leading scientists in this field. While this course was released prior to the current Coronavirus crisis and focuses mostly on the Ebola and Zika Outbreaks, Hong Kong University has long been a key hub in epidemiology and as such this course is a valuable resource for those seeking to better understand this highly current topic. Module I of this course is available for free here. Module II of this course is available, also free, here.

Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace – United Nations SDG Academy

The SDG Academy – an initiative of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network – creates and curates graduate-level courses on sustainable development, which is a topic of increasing importance in the current geopolitical environment. This 16-32 hour course explores the major threats generated by resource and climate change-driven conflict, and how Environmental peace-building has emerged as a new frontier in geopolitics, and should be considered as key learning for those interested in the NGO and supra-national governance industries. The current course is available in certified format for $49.

International Human Rights Law – Université catholique de Louvain

Founded in 1425, UC Louvain is one of Europe’s oldest universities, and in this course students explore Human Rights in relation to public and private power and international laws. This course is likely to be of key interest to those looking to engage with Human Rights enforcement, humanitarian and supra-national work. This long form (almost 100 hours) course covers the analysis of key controversies surrounding the development of international human rights law, conceptual tools for analysts tracking the developments of human rights law, and how individuals can contribute to the enforcement of international human rights law. This course is available in certified format for $150.

Resilience – The art of coping with disasters – IsraelX

This short 10-24 hour course is delivered by Limor Aharonson-Daniel, leader of the PREPARED Centre for Emergency Response Research, Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and explores the concept of disaster resilience. This topic is particularly important to those seeking a career in the corporate security and intelligence world, where Resilience and Business Continuity Planning are core concepts at the heart of the trade. This course approaches the topic both from an individual perspective, which is of key importance for those seeking to improve their cool-headedness in a crisis management environment, and from a community perspective, which is critical for understanding how organisations can better secure themselves against disaster. The current course opens today, and is available in certified format for $49.

Macroeconomic Diagnostics – International Monetary Fund

Delivered by several key economists at the IMF, this course explores the applied tools that can be deployed to assess the economic situation in countries. This toolkit is critical for geopolitical and security analysts seeking to improve their country risk analysis abilities, and is a highly in-demand skill-set in the industry. This 36-48 hour course is available in certified format for $25.

Contemporary Issues in World Politics – University of Naples Federico II

At more of an introductory level, this course is ideal for analysts looking to move from other disciplines into the geopolitical space. This course reviews the driving forces of International Politics, from the post-World War II international order through to its breakdown and the resultant shift towards a more multi-polar world. This 28-42 hour course is available in a certified format for $59

Introduction to Cybersecurity – University of Washington

For analysts in the world of corporate security and geopolitics, a basic understanding of cybersecurity concepts is of critical importance. Although most corporate security teams operate separately from their cyber counterparts, having a baseline knowledge of cyber threats is an oft-overlooked skill for analysts, especially in the modern world, where cyber threats are often tied to geopolitical events. This 8-20 hour course is available in a certified format for $199.

Protecting Children in Humanitarian Settings – Colombia University

131 million people are affected by humanitarian crises worldwide, and half of them are believed to be children, making this course critical for analysts looking to expand their skillset for humanitarian and NGO work. This 36-60 hour course is aimed at child protection practitioners who work internationally in humanitarian settings and is also designed for those who want to learn more about, or start working in, the sector, and is available in a certified format for $50.

Religion, Conflict and Peace – Harvard University

For analysts interested in terrorism, civil and sectarian conflicts, this course is of key interest and explores several contemporary conflicts with a focus on identifying and analysing the roles that religions play in both promoting and mitigating violence. Delivered by Diane L Moore, Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard University, this 34-62 hour course is available in a certified format for $50.

The Psychology of Criminal Justice – The University of Queensland

Security and crime represent a key portions of geopolitical analysis, and this course systematically explores law and justice from a psychological perspective. This course takes on a unique format, and follows a fictional criminal case from beginning to end in order to dispel myths and to gain insight into the operations of law enforcement. This 8-16 hour course is available in a certified format for $99.

Suggested books for in-depth reading on this topic:

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Lewis Tallon is a former British Army Intelligence Officer with extensive experience working and living in the Middle East and North Africa region and Asia Pacific in security, geopolitical, armed conflict risk and threat intelligence roles. Lewis currently specialises in providing MENA-region geopolitical intelligence support to the oil & gas industry, and the financial & technology sectors.

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Photo credit: Scott Kelly/NASA