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Studying Politics and International Relations: Podcasts, Radio and TV Show recommendations from the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance

17 July 2020

4 mins

There is no shortage of podcasts on politics, business, international relations, diplomacy, war, trade and much, much more. We asked what podcast, radio or TV show IDIG staff would recommend students subscribe to or tune in to listen to. Here are their suggestions.

Dr Tim Oliver – In Our Time

For over 20 years this radio discussion show has been one of the most successful and popular shows broadcast by the BBC. Chaired by veteran broadcaster and polymath Melvyn Bragg, each programme is essentially an academic seminar involving Bragg and three academics who are top in their fields, discussing a specific cultural, scientific, historical, philosophical or religious topic. Its weekly audience of millions of listeners, along with the millions who each week download one or more of the 900 episodes freely available on the BBC archive, is proof that hard, intellectual thinking can be accessible and popular.

Dr Aidan McGarry – Talking Politics

Talking Politics is produced through the London Review of Books. They have a series called ‘History of Ideas’. It takes big concepts like freedom or liberty or the state or patriarchy and uses key thinkers to discuss them, usually analysing their key books and arguments. It gets to the point and serves as a useful introduction to key thinking and thinkers on central political ideas which have occupied political theorists for centuries.

Dr Nicola Chelotti – RadioLab

RadioLab is a New York-based documentary radio. It presents itself as a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries. But it covers also many stories related to politics (recently, 6 excellent episodes called “The Other Latif” on an alleged Al-Qaeda’s top explosives expert). The best thing of these docu-stories is that they combine rigorous evidence, traditional investigative journalism and innovative storytelling methods.

Dr Dorina Baltag – The World in 30 minutes 

Chaired by Mark Leonard, the founder and director of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Affairs), this is a weekly series where the host explores big issues in foreign policy with invited guests. Most of the podcasts offers insights into developments that affect European countries. The latest themes covered Europe’s pandemic politics and the way in which the virus changed the public’s world view; how solidarity was felt in the different European countries during COVID-19; on anti-racisms protests in the US and Europe or the peace process in Libya.

Dr Cristian Nitoiu – Foreign Correspondent

My recommendation is the weekly documentary shows Foreign Correspondent on the Australian ABC news channel. The episodes focus on timely issues around the world. Some recent stories include China’s changing foreign policy, the role of the church in Russia or Poland or the conflict in Syria during the coronavirus crisis.  I really appreciate the Australian perspective on reporting which is very detailed, insightful, self-aware (and self-critical) and objective. It is very difficult nowadays to comes across quality reporting about world affairs that is sensitive to different points of view and does not try to convey an underlying normative or civilisational message. 

Professor Helen Drake – Rethink

The BBC in June 2020 started a series of 6-minute ‘essays’ designed to ‘RETHINK’ the world, the planet and its humans in the light of Covid-19. A recent highlight is the Dalai Lama on ‘Rethinking Ancient Wisdom.’ The essays cover a huge range of topics (health, sport, the body, debt) – you name it and it is probably there.

Dr Tatevik Mnatsakanyan – Conversation

The Conversation is an online magazine which brings to us news stories and in-depth analyses on current affairs produced by academics and researchers. It combines researchers’ knowledge of their subject areas with journalistic storytelling — in their own words, “unlock[ing] their knowledge for use by the wider public”. Recent highlights are on the 1990s as the foundation of modern day Russia; on the long-awaited UN Security Council’s call for global ceasefire; and on the moral indefensibility of vaccine and “treatment nationalism” emerging out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To find out more about our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, please visit our website.

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