As a student of International Affairs in the media age, I find the greatest obstacle to expanding one’s understanding of particular regions, conflicts, or histories is not a lack of information but an overwhelming abundance of perspectives, arguments, and theories. Given the multitude of choices available, debates within classes or personal conversations appear shockingly void of shared, basic information, and finding textured histories of issues as opposed to newswire updates is consistently difficult.
As a result, I wanted to share two resources I find extremely helpful in not only giving me updated information about complex issues but also appropriate context. The first is a host of resources created by the Council on Foreign Relations for high school and university students. CFR’s resources are both detailed and general with specific issue guides on topics ranging from the American and Iran nuclear deal to the relative voting power of Germany to more general interactive resources on more complex issues such as Chinese Martine Disputes or the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Although advanced students may find these guides simplistic, individuals interested in not just CNN updates but historical and political context will find it much more helpful than haphazard Wikipedia searches.
For students no longer needing context and instead are searching for varied perspective, I recommend the University of Toronto’s Munk Debates. These debate’s occur semi-annually and center around an overall field of study such as the future of gender relations or the role of religion in modern society. Do not assume, however, that the forum’s broad resolutions signify simplistic analysis because the Munk debates access can impressive list of global leaders and leading scholars. For example the debate regarding the China’s rise, features Niall Ferguson paired with David Daokui Li matched against Henry Kissinger and Fareed Zakaria. Not only is it incredibly fun to watch Niall Ferguson say, “Excuse me Mr. Kissinger, but I think you have your history wrong” but the debates are also a useful way to explore the varied perspectives on critically important topics.
I hope you find these resources helpful in combating information fatigue while still accessing varied perspective and needed context.
Jacob Clark is a junior majoring in International Relations