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Seven podcasts to listen to this autumn

Written by Professor Claire Heffernan

September 10, 2020

At the end of a long day, there are few things more enjoyable than a well-researched, informative and thought-provoking podcast. We turn to podcasts for various reasons, but much like our movie and music choices, we tend to stick to the genre or topics that have worked for us in the past. Covid-19 has prompted many of us to reflect on how and why we do the things we do. Myself included. But happily, I’ve found another use of the time I used to spend commuting (when I generally listened to podcasts and audiobooks). The end of the summer has given me a bit of time to reflect on the podcasts that I have loved the most and why, even after so many listens, they continue to inform or amuse.

LIDC will soon launch its own podcast series, where we will discuss current issues and challenges in global development. I hope the new LIDC podcast series will make it to the top of your list of favourites as we approach the darker and colder months of the year. But in the meantime, I would like to share with LIDC’s members some of my own favourites.


About Race

“About Race” is brought by Reni Eddo-Lodge. She is an award-winning journalist and author of Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. The podcast carries the conversation of the book further into discussions with prominent voices of anti-racism activism. Eddo-Lodge and her guests pick apart the recent history of race in the UK, digging into the concepts of whiteness, non-whiteness and blackness in the country throughout major elections and activist movements. The episodes swiftly link together, providing a racial analysis of issues like intersectional feminism, multiculturalism or political blackness. They always ask the question: Has anything changed?

Listen to the podcast now


Turning the tide

Devex’s “Turning the Tide” series is about climate change and its effects on small island developing states (SIDS), who are on the frontline of the fight against climate change. Everyone who knows me, knows that climate action is something I’m passionate about! Each episode features an expert to discuss the specific vulnerabilities of SIDS, such as rising sea levels, natural disasters or the lack of financial resources and international support. The podcast discusses innovative solutions to building resilience, such as local climate change solutions in Jamaica, engaging the youth in the fight against climate change, and rebuilding a healthy ocean in the Maldives.

Listen to the podcast now


No country for Young Women       

In this BBC podcast, stand-up comedians Sadia Azmat and Monty Onanuga, both British women of colour, discuss “life, love and work in a white man’s world”. As they explain it, “No Country for Young Women” speaks to a universal agenda about how to navigate the world as one. The episodes deal with subjects such as travelling as a solo Black woman, sports in the UK and Notting Hill Carnival. It resonates with many listeners and is instructive to some, as the hosts welcome guests to discuss their different experiences. In this podcast, no topic is off-limit.

Listen to the podcast now 


History of India

In this podcast, philosopher Kit Patrick explores the history of India since 600 B.C. Patrick – with a background as a teaching fellow at the University of Bristol and faculty member at the School of Arts and Sciences of the Azim Premji University in Bangalore – touches on both the most famous as well as little-known aspects of Indian history. The style is light and engaging. The stories cold almost be confused with fiction, thanks to Patrick’s narration style. There are countless episodes to choose from, as the podcast has been running weekly since 2015.

Listen to the podcast now


Power corrupts 

“Power Corrupts” is a thought-provoking and well-researched podcast by Brian Klaas. He is assistant professor of global politics at UCL, weekly Washington Post columnist and author of several books.  Klaas is an expert on authoritarian governments and seeks to bring his research to a wider audience through an engaging podcast explaining complex topics. The podcast is centred around the hidden, nefarious forces that shape the world, and each episode covers a topic such as election rigging, assassinations, money laundering or arms trading. Klaas brings his audience both strange stories about our world, as well as concrete analysis to help us understand it.

Listen to the podcast now


Global development institute podcast

Are some countries destined for under-development? Should rich countries really help the poorer ones? What role does technology play in development? In a mix of lectures and conversations between experts, the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester’s podcast unpacks some of the difficult questions that arise in the development sector. Previous guests include Dani Rodrik, Ha-Joon Chang and Helen Clark, former New Zealand prime minister and head of UNDP.

Listen to the podcast now


PHAP podcast and recorded lectures/webinars

This podcast takes the form of learning sessions organised by the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP). It is aimed at the wider humanitarian community, and is drawn from events and webinars organised by PHAP. It provides valuable insights into the world of professional humanitarians. Examples of topics covered in the many episodes available include the coordination and negotiation of access to humanitarian protection, climate preparedness, the duty of care during Covid-19 and ensuring persons with disabilities access humanitarian protection. These webinars are regularly updated to discuss the latest and most relevant issues in the field.

Listen to the podcast now


There is a plethora of podcasts out there and it was no easy task to select my top seven. I’d be interested to know if you agree with my list, or what you are listening to and why. Tweet us your thoughts: I’m @cheffernan_LIDC, LIDC is @LIDC_UK

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