Centre interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux stratégiques (CIENS)

An innovative course on space: three questions for Lise Dubois

A course with an innovative and original approach will start at CIENS on Thursday March 28. It focuses on space issues and the geostrategic challenges posed by the democratization of access to outer space. We interviewed CIENS lecturers Lise Dubois and Guillaume Schlumberger, who designed the course.

What are the pedagogical objectives of your course, and what student profile is it aimed at?  

The course is an introduction to strategic issues related to space. It naturally includes a presentation of the basic scientific and legal knowledge of outer space, but focuses above all on the political, economic and military issues raised by its use. The course aims to analyze the origins and mechanisms of the new space race we are witnessing. 

It is therefore aimed at all students interested in space, whatever their discipline, in science or the humanities, as well as candidates preparing for competitive examinations for senior civil servants. 

The course you offer is at the crossroads of strategic issues and knowledge of the cosmos. How is your approach particularly original? 

This course is the fruit of two approaches. The first is that of a practitioner, a senior civil servant at the French Ministry of the Armed Forces. The second is from a doctoral student in political science. These two complementary approaches will provide students with the keys to understanding the conflicts at work in the space sector. While we believe that there are strategic issues specific to space, we also believe that astropolitics opens the way to understanding geopolitics. 

At a time when access to space is becoming increasingly democratic, can you explain why this course is particularly relevant?

We’re talking more and more about space, whether in its civilian or military aspects, generating fears such as anti-satellite weapons, or high expectations, with the New Space project, which promises a new era of space exploration. In this respect, the issue of democratization raises the question of the role of States, faced with the emergence of new private players and their growing importance – think of Elon Musk and the Starlink constellation in the war in Ukraine. At the same time, we citizens are increasingly dependent on space activities in our daily lives. Students who have the opportunity to take this course will gain a better understanding of current events, with the help of an international historical recontextualization, and grasp the specific challenges that space Europe has faced and continues to face.