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6 TED Talks for Students Obtaining a Master of Arts in International Relations Degree

Today’s world of international relations is ever changing and fast paced. With the rise of mass interconnectivity as an international standard, nations are working harder to control the flow of public information. The Internet, social media, and high speed transportation have expanded the availability of widespread methods of communication, leading to a more informed and inquisitive populous, while also resulting in several shifts of power in the global environment. With these points in mind, the following six international leaders provide TED Talks that highlight the changing domestic and global landscape and ask poignant questions that should be considered by current and future international relations professionals.

David Rothkopf: How Fear Drives American Politics

David Rothkopf is a prolific author who works to demonstrate potential solutions to the dangers present in the modern geopolitical landscape. Within this Ted Talk, Rothkopf notes a few of the major issues currently being faced by U.S. leadership, including the spread of fear among citizens of the U.S. He shares that threats of disasters such as thermonuclear wars can be considered largely responsible for the fear and suffering that is being felt by American citizens. Rothkopf notes that this same fear is a driving force behind decisions made by international relations professionals on the macro scale, while also potentially driving foreign governments policies.

In his Ted Talk, Rothkopf further explains this idea of fear by sharing the example that planes are considered to be a threat by both the broader public and government due to their ability to be hijacked. In addition to this, today’s modern technology allows individuals to see every plane in the sky and track where they will land. This advancement increases the amount of time, energy and resources being used to ensure that planes remain safe for the general public. With so many additional technological revolutions unfolding, Rothkopf is concerned that fear is distracting our government, citing that many industries like finance, education, and healthcare are all facing massive changes and challenges that the government simply doesn’t have the resources to address. By understanding how fear is inhibiting growth within the nation, Rothkopf believes that international relations professionals can start the dialogue necessary to address the fear and develop practical solutions for handling various pressing concerns.

Simon Anholt: Which Country Does the Most Good for the World?

Simon Anholt is a political advisor who helps governments improve their public reputation by suggesting changes to their behavior, rather than expensive public relations and advertising campaigns. In this talk, Anholt explains that globalization has allowed us to spread our thoughts, ideas and innovations, creating a climate where what would formerly have been just the mistakes of an individual country, have now become global points of concern. As a result, much of the global population has access to detailed information on which countries are doing good things and which are doing harmful things. Yet, Anholt extends this assumption, asking whether we can actually establish a hierarchy of which countries do the “most good”? By posing this question, Anholt sets the stage for international relations students to expand their understanding of what types of actions must be justified within the international landscape and how nations can avoid causing harm to their citizens and neighboring nations.

One of Anholt’s major points during his talk is the role empathy plays in ranking the best and worst countries. He explains that many countries tend to intervene in regions where the populations share multiple aspects of their culture. This creates a moral dilemma for international relations professionals, as nations that are unfamiliar still have the ability to impact the wellbeing of their foreign counterparts. In using Anholt’s definition of what it takes to be a good country, the objective isn’t necessarily to be the best country, but rather to be the country that gives more to humanity than any other, regardless of cultural similarity. Based on this, Simon Anholt developed The Good Country Index to compile data that shows exactly where most countries rank based on their empathy towards other nations throughout the world. By discussing how several countries ended up with their respective standing, Anholt aims to push international relations students to think outside the box, evaluate how “good” the country they work in is and understand what they can to do help improve its position.

Trita Parsi: Iran and Israel: Peace is Possible

Specializing in Middle Eastern history and politics, Trita Parsi offers international relations students a number of potential solutions to the conflicts developing between Iran and Israel. Parsi starts this TED Talk by introducing a brief history of the conflicts that have been occurring in these regions, noting how the nations have not been consistently at battle and there have been times of peace and collaboration between Iran and Israel. Still, Parsi feels it is relatively clear that the modern rift between Iran and Israel has the potential to become a global concern due to the number of allies involved. As a result, the conflict between Iran and Israel is a tremendous study for international relations students looking to deepen their understanding of conflict resolution.

In this talk, Parsi states that he believes war is not a forgone conclusion, supporting this statement by pointing out the many times Israel and Iran have put ideological differences aside for the sake of their strategic interests. In the hope of preventing war from becoming an inevitable outcome, Parsi explains that peace is possible as long as Iran and Israel can move beyond viewing their conflict from an ideological perspective, and instead focus on finding mutually beneficial interests, particularly within the economic or civic realm.

Ian Bremmer: How the U.S. Should use Its Superpower Status

As founder of Eurasia Group, a political research and consulting firm, Ian Bremmer has a well-informed perspective on globalization and what role the United States may likely play in the process. Within this talk, Bremmer discusses the active role the United States has played in policing the less renowned nations of the world, a strategy he calls Americanization. Yet with a slowed economy and a government that spent two trillion dollars on war in the Middle East, Bremmer believes that Americans no longer wish for their country to be as concerned with policing international issues. For international relations professionals, these perceptions may result in a shifting focus of prioritizing domestic concerns over global or humanitarian efforts. To extend this idea, Bremmer points out what is occurring in different regions of the world, explaining how the end of Americanization will look in these regions. He talks about Russia in particular, stating that he feels Vladimir Putin, current president of the Russian Federation, will have significantly more work on his hands if the U.S. pulls back on aggressively policing international conflicts. Bremmer’s research has shown that in order to succeed in assisting other nations, the United States and its international relations professionals must be flexible in their own leadership practices, both domestically and internationally, and display a willingness to compromise and embrace collaboration.

Paddy Ashdown: The Global Power Shift

In his TED Talk presentation, Paddy Ashdown provides international relations professionals with insight into the transition of power occurring throughout the world and its impact on the international landscape. While holding his position in British Parliament, Ashdown developed a deep understanding of international cooperation and how it will need to improve in the future. Ashdown mentions that power is already shifting away from the nations that have withstood long stretches of remaining overwhelmingly powerful. Using the United States as an example, he states that the U.S. has reigned supreme in a mono-polar world for more than half of a century; however, he doesn’t believe that this will last much longer as the world moves towards a multipolar system. Ashdown also states that America is having its power siphoned off by the countries who formerly went unnoticed, expressing a frightening possibility that collaboration with traditional allies may no longer be enough to protect western territories.

To help this exchange of power unfold with minimal economic casualties, Ashdown feels that the most important thing international relations professionals can do is strive for positive interactions with all parties, regardless of whether they’re traditional allies or not. He explains this by highlighting the value of networking, as it allows organizations, nations and individuals to defend themselves in case of emergency. However, without building proper networks, international relationships are bound to crumble, so it will be important for international relations professionals to find ways to balance their relationships with traditional and new allies.

Madeleine Albright: On Being a Woman and a Diplomat

Since leaving her office as United States Secretary of State in 2001, Madeleine Albright has gone on to pursue an eventful career as a political advisor, lecturer, businesswoman, and professor. In her TED Talk presentation, Albright shares what it is like to be a woman and a diplomat. Specifically, Albright details how important it is to empower women to become diplomats and speak out to share their perspectives and insights, as women’s voices and actions are needed to ensure that their interests are properly accounted for in international policies. To help bring forth balance, Albright believes that it’s essential to encourage women to consider diplomacy or related government positions, as well as have women’s equality at the center of organizations and society as a whole.

As these speakers have noted, change is occurring on both a domestic and international level. To ensure that these changes remain in a positive light, international relations professionals should continue addressing unfair policies and practices that exist, as well as lead by example to help guide the global society towards peace and equality.

Learn More

As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.

Our online Master of Arts in International Relations program offers a curriculum that evolves with current events to help you face the future of international affairs. Norwich University’s master’s degree in international relations covers many subjects to give you a look at the internal workings of international players, examine the role of state and non-state actors on the global stage, and explore different schools of thought. You can further strengthen your knowledge by choosing one of five concentrations in International Security, National Security, International Development, Cyber Diplomacy, or Regions of the World.

Recommended Readings:

International Security & Tension at the Korean Border
6 Insights on International Economic Development


May 2017