ISCOR Students Create “The Spotlight” Podcast to Demystify Current Events

December 11, 2023
students in podcast booth

Episode 1 features an interview with Pierre Asselin, history professor; episode 2 features Jonathan Graubart, political science professor.

When international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR) Director and Professor Latha Varadarajan was discussing issues in global security with her class in spring 2023, she floated the idea of a podcast about current events that would be student-focused and student-led.

Enter Avery Cochrane, a fourth-year political science student, and John-Michael Ellis, a history student, who had met in Varadarajan’s ISCOR Global Systems class in fall 2022 and were part of the cohort in her upper-division class on National Security Policy in the spring. Both are minoring in ISCOR.

“John-Michael and I both loved her classes, and were active participants. So I think we were kind of on her radar for people that would be good for it,” Cochrane said. 

Cochrane, a musician and singer/songwriter and Ellis, a history buff, bring their talents and curiosity to the microphone. “The Spotlight” podcast is produced in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Center at SDSU and ISCOR Student Society. 

“I think many times students who are not political science or history majors can be misinformed about current global events,” Cochrane said. “Geopolitical conflicts or tensions seem daunting when someone reads about it online or in a textbook.”

During the podcast, Cochrane and Ellis pose carefully calibrated questions to their guest speakers to break down tough concepts into what feels more like a casual conversation. While the actual podcast is meant to be a conversation, both hosts devote a significant amount of time researching the topic and their guests, with the goal of making something complicated more easily digestible.

Cochrane thinks that oftentimes students are quick to pick a side of an issue before digging deeper into its historical context. She hopes the podcast will help students learn more about current issues of wars past and present, climate justice, intersectional gender concepts, and other relevant topics.

She and Ellis are planning for future episodes that they hope will enlighten students. On their wishlist for a future guest interview is Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times correspondent, American author and well-known public intellectual, whom the ISCOR Student Society hopes to bring to campus in spring 2024.

Access the episodes on Spotify.

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