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5 Reasons to Listen to Big World

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Launched in 2018, Big World is SIS’s podcast that brings the world—and topics that really matter—to listeners every month in bite-sized, understandable nuggets. As we enter our fourth season, here’s our own “Take Five” list of why you should listen.

  1. Big World provides context on important current events. Over the past few years, news and current events have arguably gone from merely important to critical for health and safety. Big World features experts who can go beyond a daily headline to analyze and contextualize important news and current events.

    Sometimes, to understand a situation, you need some background. When we discuss nuclear weapons, we look at the history of nuclear treaties, and when we discuss US-Russia relations, we also explore how the relationship has evolved since 2001.

    When an issue sparks outrage and tremendous sadness, like the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman, Big World focuses not only on the tragedy that’s occurred but also on the larger relationship of policing with communities in the US.

    Whether it’s health inequities in COVID-19 transmission and outcomes, the mainstreaming of white nationalism, or the rise of terrorist activity on social media, Big World will tell you something you didn’t know before.

  2. Big World centers underrepresented topics and voices. Focusing on the same types of voices, over and over, impoverishes our discourse. SIS understands and embraces the need to center underrepresented points of view and to embrace a diversity of thought, and Big World reflects that.

    How is the 1950s ideal of a male wage-earner who supports the family with one income damaging to Black men and communities in the US and globally? Why is our vision of an American farmer always a solitary white man on a tractor somewhere in the Midwest? And when we talk about how many refugees are coming to America, Germany, and other Western nations, what migration reality are we missing?

    We’ve examined how #MeToo, for all its gains against sexual assault and harassment, left large groups of marginalized women behind. We’ve looked at why sexual violence and rape has always been a part of violent war and conflict. And we’ve discussed the ways in which our western image of human rights in the Middle East entirely misses the point in some crucial ways.

  3. Big World takes the long view. Podcasts and interviews that only discuss what happened last week are missing the ways in which “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

    On Big World, we speak with guests who embrace knowledge and understanding of the past, whether it means talking about the impact of the 1960s on how we frame human rights today, discussing the post-World War I negotiations that left the Arab world subject to colonialism, or unraveling the numerous ways in which the very aid efforts intended to help Haiti have, over many decades, exacerbated some of its problems.

    Our guests aren’t afraid to discuss what the Cuban regime under Fidel Castro did well. They don’t shy away from taking on big figures on the world stage, whether in Russia, in Israel, or here in the US. And they know that to fully understand tragedies like 9/11, you need the perspective that only time brings. 

  4. Big World explores unexpected slices of pop culture. What’s that you say? You didn’t expect to learn how Sesame Street wields soft power on behalf of the US government? Neither did we! Maybe you also didn’t expect episodes on the relevance of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica to international relations, but we hope you enjoy them.

  5. Big World provides insights just for students. At Big World, we never forget the responsibility of SIS to the people who are preparing to lead and serve the global community: our students. This entails discussing important career, fellowship, and internship topics with experts. It also means showcasing how crucial international education really is.