The podcast as policy brief

Illustration by Bitteschön

In an exercise in brevity, Julian Wucherpfenning’s International Security students create podcasts.

In his spring 2018 International Security course, Professor Julian Wucherpfennig tried out a new medium – the podcast – so first-year Master of International Affairs (MIA) students could practice boiling down a topic into a concise briefing – a key skill required for many jobs in public policy and related fields. 

Instead of assigning each of the 75 students a briefing paper, Wucherpfennig asked them to form small groups and produce podcasts, accompanied by a poster on a security-related topic. While the posters gave students a practice-run for their second-year thesis posters, the podcasts offered a way to present a topic to an audience in a concise format.

Wucherpfennig encouraged students to use “Occam’s razor” – giving preference to the simplest theory, with the fewest variables and hypotheses to answer a question. Students need to be able to “sweep away the fluff and details to get to the root of the problem,” he said.

With a limit of eight minutes, students had to stay focused on a singular aspect of security – climate change, digital technology, migration, to name a few.  International Security is one of the mandatory core courses Hertie School MIA students take to complete their degree. Enjoy listening to a few examples of the students’ work here. 

More about Julian Wucherpfennig