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5 Podcasts To Learn About International Affairs

Living in Tokyo was a transformative experience that turned me onto other interests, specifically international affairs. The transition was natural, something that working with a high-profile clientele directly contributed to. Since I’ve solidified my interest in international affairs, I’ve taken up listening to podcasts about international affairs.

While this list is by no means extensive, these are the ones that I consistently listen to, along with a few that I am looking to add to my ever-growing list of favorite podcasts. I use these 5 podcasts about international affairs to learn about the field I want to transition into.

5 Podcasts To Learn About International Affairs

Global Dispatches

This one is one of my favorites because of the variety of topics discussed. The host, the editor of the website UN Dispatch, selects great guests who discuss each topic in-depth (well, as in-depth as you can get within a 20-30 minute timeframe). Almost as soon as I started listening to this podcast consistently, I discovered that I had saved 7 episodes, all of which dealt with human rights and the rights of women, girls, and refugees; this was a great way for me to narrow down one of my interests in the vast world of international affairs.

The topics change with each episode, something that I find incredibly refreshing because it keeps me learning new things week to week, and I love the feeling of not knowing what fascinating thing I’m going to learn about. The host also takes requests from listeners, which is an added bonus in my book. 

The President’s Inbox

A friend of mine recommended this one to me, among a bunch of other foreign policy podcasts, and this one stood out to me, again, because of the variety of topics discussed by the Council on Foreign Relations. One week, the host will be discussing U.S.-Taiwan relations, the next, energy, and geopolitics. 

The variety of topics keeps me on my toes and it definitely keeps me coming back to this one. One series I particularly loved was their Transition 2021 series, where hosts and guests engaged in conversations about how the Biden administration would tackle various challenges. While certainly not all-encompassing, it was definitely informative from my perspective, as someone who doesn’t have an academic background in international affairs.

The Rachman Review

While this one isn’t new, it is one that I have recently added to my library. Gideon Rachman, the chief foreign affairs columnist of the Financial Times discusses relevant foreign policy issues with subject experts. The episodes, which run anywhere from between 20 to 30 minutes in length, touch on topics such as the coup in Myanmar, and the recent Israel-Palestine conflict.

While there are certainly other podcasts about international affairs out there from reputable sources such as the New York Times and The Economist, I wanted to expand my pool of resources, which led me to this particular podcast.

Modern American Diplomacy

I wasn’t originally planning on applying for the State Department or the Foreign Service when I first discovered this podcast; I was just interested in the different experiences of American diplomats. Each diplomat traces their background and reflects on their experiences serving abroad, discussing a variety of topics during the course of the interview.

I appreciate the variety of topics discussed on this podcast; in some cases, it is also a welcome reality check that reminds listeners of the reality FSOs can face. It’s also worth noting that this podcast is only produced once a month, something some might find disappointing.

The World Next Week

If I’m going to be totally honest, this podcast is one of my favorite ways to stay up-to-date on current events in addition to reading traditional news sources like The Guardian and the New York Times. I like this podcast because the hosts from Council on Foreign Affairs not only preview the week in the context of major foreign affairs events but also discuss the potential ramifications of the events as well. 

This list certainly isn’t extensive; there are hundreds of podcasts about international affairs that can offer insight into more niche areas within international affairs, especially if you’re interested in a particular region or topic. However, podcasts are a great way to learn and broaden the scope of your knowledge, and these podcasts have certainly helped me do just that as I work to lay the transition for a move into the field.

About the Author

Alisa Tanaka

Alisa Tanaka graduated with a Communications degree from Lewis & Clark College in 2012. She hopes to develop a career that allows her to make a measurable impact on the world while doing something that she loves. Her interests include psychology, linguistics, and mental health. She can also be found reading, watching documentaries, and writing her blog.