Small States and Global Powers (POL141) | ISM

Small States and Global Powers (POL141)


Interconnection in the present world is immense. Pace and depth of information penetration often is excruciating.  This creates major pressures in international relations especially for small states. Competing with global powers, surviving and winning in 21st century becomes essential and extremely challenging.

The course will reflect the findings accumulated over almost 30 years of diplomatic service experience. Extensive involvement in “diplomacy in practice” on various fronts – the EU, NATO, bilateral relationship with the US, Israel, South Africa, Poland, Nordic countries, dealing with energy security, etc. – will be the core to focusing on empirical side of foreign policy and international relations. The course will reveal the insights on how small international players, even in a hostile geopolitical environment, could be successful in foreign and security policy, international business, in defending national interests, sovereignty and at the same time remaining valuable and contributing actors in multilateral engagements. The case of Israel as a start-up nation, its example and lessons for other small size states, including Lithuania, will be discussed. The brand South Africa initiative will be also analyzed.

In the opening part of the course students will be introduced to the background knowledge of the definition, role and challenges of the small states in the contemporary world. Methods for building a successful small state even in an adverse geopolitical situation will be discussed. Further, the role of employing by the small states essential international relations tools of public diplomacy, lobbying, state branding and state image management will be thoroughly examined.

Aim of the Course

The major part of the course is based on and will review empirical findings related to the role of small states and their capacity for survival and success. The course will reveal examples, reasons and methods for building the small states successful competition with global powers, also in a hostile geopolitical environment. The course will equip students with the knowledge of both theory and practical implementation of public diplomacy, its role and mechanisms in favorably influencing other states, governments, businesses and their decision making on international arena. It will teach the techniques of managing state’s and business’ reputation and opinion influencing, resulting in a creation of the state’s added power and value.

Learning outcomes

  • Describe, understand and explain categories of states’ power and the role of small states in global geopolitics.
  • Explain real-world risks and challenges faced by small states in historical and geopolitical contexts.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the strategies that small states employ in defending their interests and building success.
  • Describe key elements of public diplomacy and their employment in international affairs.
  • Explain key elements of lobbying, its relation and impact to governments and their decision making in the field of international relations.
  • Explain key elements of managing state reputation and creating the value of state’s brand.
  • Prepare and analyze case studies of small states success stories.
  • Work in teams, to present and explain their findings in a professional manner.