Mr Leonhardt Van Efferink

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Personal profile

Between 2010 and 2019, I wrote my PhD thesis on Geopolitics at Royal Holloway. Before, I had obtained a Master's degree in Economics and worked as a (Senior) Country Risk Analyst with three banks. My pre-PhD career further included a position as a Senior Policy Adviser at the Dutch Ministry of Finance. While working as an economist, I became increasingly interested in geopolitics. This was partially related to my work as an economist, during which I became more and more aware of the strong relationship between economics and geopolitics. My interest in geopolitics was further stimulated by various books, particularly "Political Geography" by Peter J. Taylor. Eventually, I decided to take a sabbatical in 2009 to do a Master's in Geopolitics at King's College London.


My PhD thesis "Germany's ‘War on Terror' : Exploring Frames and Imaginations in Practical and Popular Geopolitics" investigates the framing of Germany's military presence in Afghanistan. More specifically, the thesis analyses how the news magazine Der Spiegel and five political parties framed four aspects of Germany's ISAF mission (2002-2014). These aspects are Will to Intervene, Militarisation of Intervention, Capacity to Intervene and Victims during Intervention. These so-called geopolitical frame categories draw on the academic literature on geopolitics, geography, IR, political studies and Germany. My methodology to identify, interpret and analyse geopolitical frames reflects a strong interest in both critical geopolitics and media studies. It combines geopolitical concepts such as national identity, national power and national security with constructivist and multimodal methods to study framing.


In 2012, the Geographical Journal published my article "Polar Partners or Poles Apart? On the discourses of two US think tanks on Russia's presence in the ‘High North’." The article examines the differences between Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation regarding their representations of the Arctic, with a focus on Russia's regional involvement. I also wrote the article about Geopolitics in the Oxford Bibliographies. It contains reviews of over 150 publications in English, French, German and Dutch. Moreover, I am Founding Editor of Exploring Geopolitics. This website hosts 200+ contributions by 130+ scholars from 25+ countries. These scholars offer valuable insights into geopolitical approaches, geopolitical concepts and geopolitical trends. My article "The Definition of Geopolitics – The Classical, French and Critical Traditions" has been among the most read contributions since I started the website in 2009.


With my company GeoMeans, I assist organisations with making better informed decisions on their country, regional and global strategy. To achieve this, I develop tools (‘means’) that enable my clients to assess the strategic implications of major trends in one or more countries ('geo'). These tools help organisations work with frames, indicators and scenarios more effectively. Skills training sessions, workshops and consultancy are the most common forms in which I assist my clients (see below for examples). I further work as a course leader at Maastricht Summer School. My geopolitical courses are about geopolitical scenario planning, the twenty-first century world order and water wars. I further offer Summer School courses on media framing analysis, critical discourse analysis, fake news, country risk analysis and political risk analysis. I also teach at other universities, including Cambridge University, Helmut-Schmidt University (Hamburg) and University of Amsterdam (see below for more examples).


If you have any questions about geopolitics, framing or country risk, please contact me via e-mail or LinkedIn.


Cambridge University - Guest Lecturer

  • Rethinking the Relationship between Economics & Geopolitics, Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism (link)

Geneva Institute for Geopolitical Studies - Guest Lecturer

  • The Role of Geopolitics in Country Risk Analysis - Indicators, Causalities and a Case Study on Brazil, Summer School

Helmut Schmidt-Universität - Guest Lecturer and Workshop Moderator

  • Introduction to Scenario Thinking. Prepare for the Future by Embracing Uncertainty, Foreign Area Specialist course
  • Introduction to Geopolitical Framing: What do we mean by Great Powers, Failed States and BRIC Economies?, Foreign Area Specialist course
  • The Geopolitics of Natural Resources: Current Trends and Future Scenarios, Foreign Area Specialist course
  • Political, Military and Economic Relations in Europe in 2020:  Scenario Workshop, Foreign Area Specialist course
  • Future Conflicts: Actors, Objectives and Strategies: Scenario Workshop, Foreign Area Specialist course

Maastricht Summer School - Course Leader

  • Geopolitical Analysis
    Modules on geopolitics, geo-economics, geostrategy, geopolitical scenario planning, national identity, national power and national security
  • Country Risk Analysis
    Modules on country risk concepts, macro-economic indicators, political risk indicators, risk report writing, risk visualization and risk modelling
  • Media Representations Analysis
    Modules on critical discourse analysis, media framing analysis, social semiotics, text-image relations, multimodality, meaning-making processes, fake news, data selection, research questions and positionality

Maastricht University - Guest Lecturer, Tutor and Workshop Moderator

  • One World, Many Eyes. A Critical Introduction to Geopolitics, Honours program
  • A Global Power Assessment: A Comparison of China and the EU, SCOPE conference
  • Geopolitical Scenario Planning: Anticipating Foreign Policy Responses to Yemen’s Plausible Futures, University College Maastricht
  • Country Risk Analysis, School of Business and Economics

Nyenrode University - Guest Lecturer

  • Impact van Geopolitiek op Financiële Markten, Vermogensbeheer voor de Private Wealth Sector

Royal Holloway, University of London - Workshop Moderator

  • Employability Improvement Workshop. How to find the right balance between you and the labour market?, Geography department

University of Amsterdam - Guest Lecturer, Thesis Supervisor and Tutor

  • A Critical Geopolitical View on Media: Critical Discourse Analysis, Semiotics and News Framing, Geography department
  • Geopolitical Framing Analysis, Geography department
  • Critical Discourse Analysis, Geography/Heritage Studies department
  • Textual and Visual Analysis, European Studies department
  • Institutions and History of European Union, European Studies department
  • Economics and Law of European Union, European Studies department

Other work

ABN AMRO Bank - Speaker and Moderator

  • Facts, Framing and Fake News - Strategic Implications for ABN AMRO, Sharing and Learning Session
  • Will there be Summer after the Arab Spring? Scenarios for Egypt, Iran and Israel, Management Meeting

Amsterdam University Press - Speaker and Panel Member

  • Geopolitiek, book presentation by Herman van der Wusten and Virginie Mamadouh

Bundeswehr - Panel Chair, Speaker and Workshop Moderator

  • Grundlegende Fragen in der Definition von Geopolitik, Geopolitical Training Seminar
  • Geopolitik, Geostrategie und Geoökonomie in der Arktis, Geopolitical Training Seminar
  • Geopolitical Framing. How do texts and photos construct boundaries between places and people?, Geopolitical Training Seminar
  • Wechselwirkungen zwischen Risikoanalysen von Banken und der politischen und wirtschaftlichen Lage der Länder des arabischen Frühlings, Geopolitical Training Seminar
  • Entwicklung deutscher Strategien zur Stabilisierung der Lage in Nahost und Nordafrika, Geopolitical Training Seminar
  • Sicherheitsrelevante Auswirkungen der Umbrüche – Folgen für Europa, den Nahostkonflikt und die Stabilität in den Regionen, Geopolitical Training Seminar

Bundeswehr - Author

  • Interessensräume einflussreicher Staaten. Studie über Staaten und deren Macht, Interessen und Strategien, Consultancy Paper
  • Grundlegende Fragen zur Definition der Geopolitik, Geopolitical Yearbook
  • Länderrisiken, Rating Agenturen und der Arabische Frühling, Geopolitical Yearbook

D66 - Speaker and Moderator

  • Toekomstscenario’s over de Tweedeling in de EMU. Solidariteit en Rechtvaardigheid in Tijden van Crisis, Social Liberal Committee Meeting

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Speaker and Moderator

  • Geopolitiek van Natuurlijke Grondstoffen, de BRIC-landen en Financial Planning, Alumni Meeting

FMO Bank - Workshop Moderator

  • Three Global Risk Scenarios Large Capital Outflows in China, Strong Rise in Food Prices and Severe Tensions in Europe, Management Meeting

King's College London - Speaker and Moderator

  • Geopolitics, Country Risk and the Arab Spring, Alumni Meeting

Ministry of Defence UK - Panel Member

  • Global Strategic Trends, Meeting at Royal Holloway, University of London

Ministry of Foreign Affairs NL/International Union for Conservation of Nature - Speaker and Panel Member

  • Natural Resources in the African Great Lakes, Public Seminar

NATO - Facilitator

  • Future Threats in an Urban Environment, Urbanisation Working Group
  • Information and Cyber Security, Urbanisation Working Group

Netherlands Council for Trade Promotion - Speaker and Moderator

  • Scenarios for Vietnam’s Economy in 2020: Resource Exporter, Manufacturing Powerhouse or High-Tech Hub?, Business Seminar

NIBE-SVV - Author

  • Country Risk Analysis, with C. Kool and T. van Veen, Financiële en Monetaire Studies (link)

Rabobank International London - Workshop Moderator

  • Assessing Country Risk: The Interaction between Economics and Politics in the Middle East, Team Meeting

Rabobank Nederland - Speaker

  • Wat is Geopolitiek? Een Veelzijdig Concept of een Nuttige Invalshoek bij Onderzoek?, Breakfast Meeting

Study Association for European Studies/University of Amsterdam - Author

  • "Geopolitiek is terug van weggeweest" en drie andere mythes, Eurovisie Magazine

Warwick University - Panel Member

  • Projections and Relevant Effects of Demographic Implications, Changes and Trends, co-organised with University of Bologna, assigned by NATO

Wolters Kluwer - Author

  • Geopolitieke Risico’s, Vermogensrendementen en Financiële Planning, Vakblad Financiële Planning

Young Energy Specialists - Workshop Moderator

  • Geopolitical Scenario Planning. Developing New Perspectives on Natural Resources, Member Meeting

Educational background

King's College London

  • Geopolitics, Territory and Security (MA)

Erasmus University Rotterdam

  • Financial Economics (MSc)

Research interests

  • Critical Geopolitics, Constructivist Geopolitics, French Geopolitics
  • Geopolitical Frames, Geopolitical Imaginations, Geopolitical Discourses
  • National Identity, National Power, National Security
  • Geopolitical Scenario Planning, Twenty-First Century World Order, Water Wars
  • Geo-Economics, Country Risk Analysis, Political Risk Analysis
  • Textual Analysis, Visual Analysis, Text-Image Relations, Multimodal Analysis
  • Framing Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis, Social Semiotics
  • Media Studies, Magazine Covers, Newspapers, Social Media, Fake News
  • Foreign Policy Analysis, Germany's Foreign Policy, Political Speeches

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