Podcasts on international relations #1

I discovered on-demand broadcasts only one and a half years ago when I was searching for new tools that would eventually make my German better. I came across  Deutsche Welle’s „Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten” and fell in love with the idea of listening to such broadcasts on my way to kindergarten, to work and back home. They were not interrupted with annoying advertisements like on the radio. And I could learn a lot from them.

To be honest, my German did not develop much at that time and eventually, I ceased to continue my Deutschunterricht. That was not the fault Deutsche Welle.

What did develop since then though was my passion for on-demand broadcasts. My German-language recordings were not typical podcasts but they made me discover some in an app on my smartphone. Now I listen to podcasts very often and observe the new ones popping up every week.

Since it takes just having a smartphone to start recording, sharing and listening to podcasts, they have a bright future ahead. They may cover many, many fields, including international relations. Best-known think-tanks already know it and upload podcasts frequently. Sometimes they are specially designed, sometimes they are audio versions of traditional debates and discussions. Both types work for me and hopefully will work for you, too. Please take a look at my selection. What would your list look like?

ECFR’s World in 30 Minutes – the authorial idea developed by Mark Leonard, the ECFR’s Director, who weekly discusses various events, processes and trends shaping the world of today and tomorrow. I most liked the subseries of the last Summer, titled “The End of the World”, that included interviews with top authors and thinkers, i.e. my favourite Parag Khanna, the one and only Joseph Nye and as controversial as interesting Edward Luttwak. All the guests provide the audience with reading recommendations!

Centre for European Reform – the first international relations podcasts I have listened to. As they last for approximately 10 minutes each, I have treated them as a nice break and refreshment at work. CER is a leading British think-tank focused especially on the EU issues. Hence, there is no better address if you want to understand Brexit and the future of the European Union (global, transatlantic and security issues are covered, too). Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska, a Polish analyst and the Senior Research Fellow at the CER, largely contributes to these weekly podcasts.

Center for Strategic & International Studies – the CSIS, one of leading DC-based international relations think-tanks, produces podcasts very frequently (my SoundCloud feed is flooded with them). They are mainly produced as recordings from events organised by the CSIS, but sometimes they have tailor-made forms, too, like fantastic “Russian Roulette”. My favourite series though is titled “Smart Women, Smart Power” and is hosted by Beverly Kirk. This series is not devoted exclusively to women’s issues and women empowerment but aims at giving a floor to female specialists in many fields of international relations, like the digital economy or nuclear security. My two favourite episodes are conversations with Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank CEO, on ending poverty, and an older one with Haruno Yoshide on Japan’s Womenomics.

“The World Next Week” by the Council on Foreign Relations – the CFR is one of the leading and the oldest think-tanks in the world, based in New York City. It provides weekly analyses of global events and processes sent in newsletters and for almost 7 years produces weekly podcasts, too. They usually cover three to five main events that will shape the world in the week ahead. The hosts, CFR’s Director of Studies James M. Lindsay and cfr.org Managing Editor Robert McMahon, do not have crystal balls but a large think-tank and a fantastic expertise behind them. They should really be listened to by those who want to stay up to date with this crazy world.

The Diplomat – I have been following TheDiplomat.com for years and love their insights. It would be hard to find a better address for briefs on Asian affairs and expertise on this dynamic region of the world. Their podcasts have been developed since 2013. Podcasts are published very often and cover very up to date issues that are high on the regional and global agenda, recently especially those on geopolitics (like regional disputes and conflicts) and hard security, including nuclear and ballistic topics.

FT World Weekly – do you want to have a free access to the “Financial Times” content? Their podcasts are a way to go. What makes it special and different from the CFR podcast is that Gideon Rachman, the chief foreign affairs commentator for the FT, focuses on one topic each week, the most important one from the author’s perspective. He discusses the future of South Africa, the coalition talks in Germany, the war in Yemen and many more issues with his fellow correspondents. I like the short form of this podcast – each episode lasts for no longer than 15 minutes, perfect when you enter a grocery store.

Jacob Mchangama – a friend of mine (one of Marshall Memorial Fellows this essay was devoted to) has just started podcasting (2 episodes are available online) but I think his recordings are already worth recommending. Jacob is a Danish activist and free speech advocate working for “Justitia”, Denmark’s first judicial think-tank. His podcast covers the history of the free speech worldwide and is a place every person interested in human rights should have a look at. I keep my fingers crossed for the development of this podcast.

Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast – this is not a typically international relations podcast, but I decided to include it here because it is my favourite English-language podcast and covers a broad range leadership and management issues, sometimes even touching upon foreign affairs. Through this podcast, I got to know Dorie Clark (I wrote about her books here) and listened to Satya Nadella of Microsoft and his modern leadership style, and also got convinced that building a portfolio career is a way to go. Harvard Business Review is a global management training brand. If you want to build your own personal brand of a leader, there is no better podcast to help you out with it.


Here you can find the article on the best Polish podcasts covering economy and business. As I could observe, this selection was very useful to many podcast-lovers.



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