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World Affairs Council opens foreign policy series

January 31, 2014
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World Affairs Council opens foreign policy series
A shot of the 12-story-high Unisphere in Queens, New York. Photo via commons.wikimedia.org

Grand Rapids will be having a discussion Monday about whether or not Edward Snowden is a traitor, a hero or both.

Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, will be at the center of the discussion kicking off this year’s edition of Great Decisions Foreign Policy Discussion Series — an annual series of multimedia presentations and panel discussions hosted by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

Snowden’s story will be at the heart of a presentation, “The Role of the Press and National Security Leaks in the Age of Big Data,” by Dina Temple-Raston, a counterterrorism correspondent for National Public Radio.

Temple-Raston’s presentation will be given on Monday, at 6 p.m., in the Performing Arts Center at Aquinas College.

The event will be free for students, $5 for World Affairs Council members and $10 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

“We have an exceptional lineup of speakers this year who will focus on global issues that everyone is talking about,” said Dixie Anderson, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. “Dina Temple-Raston from NPR was such a hit with the audience we just had to have her back again. Her dynamic andinformative presentation style received a standing ovation at last year’s Great Discussions, and we are extremely pleased to be opening this year’s series with her.”

Snowden, named runner-up for Time’s Person of the Year in 2013, became a household name last summer after Glenn Greenwald, a former journalist for the British newspaper The Guardian, first reported on Snowden’s exposures of the NSA’s far reaching and controversial mass surveillance and data gathering.

Since then, both Snowden and Greenwald have been the subject of numerous worldwide debates regarding privacy vs. national security, government overreach and the role of journalists in exposing confidential government files.

Snowden, now considered one of the most-wanted persons on the planet, has been living in an undisclosed location in Russia, where he is currently seeking permanent asylum.

Snowden — along with other major world issues such as the Arab Spring, China, U.S.-Israel relations and African food and water shortages — will all be addressed during the series.

“Great Decisions is the longest-running discussion series in West Michigan and has a track record of bringing some of the world’s leading scholars, researchers and policy makers to the region,” Anderson said. “You can travel the intellectual globe this winter without ever leaving Grand Rapids.”

Great Decisions Foreign Policy Discussion Series 

Feb. 10: “How the Three Geos (Geopolitical, Geo-economics and Geophysical Changes) are Rewriting the World Map,” by Cleo Paskal, a fellow of Chatham House, London

Feb. 17: Out of Africa: How Food Insecurity and Water Shortages There Affect Us Here, armchair discussion with Dawit Giorgis, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Washington, D.C.; moderated by Dr. Deborah Steketee, Aquinas College

Feb. 24: U.S.-Israeli Relations in a Changing Middle East, armchair discussion with Dr. Yael Aronoff, chair of Israel Studies, James Madison College, Michigan State University; moderated by Dr. Michael DeVivo, Grand Rapids Community College

March 10 and March 11: Turkey at a Crossroads, armchair discussion with Dr. Jerry Leach, formerly of the U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C.; moderated by Dr. Michelle Metro-Roland, Western Michigan University

March 17 and March 18: “Unintended Consequences of The Arab Spring,” by Reza Marashi, National Iranian American Council, Washington, D.C.

March 24 and March 25: U.S. Trade Policy in the Western Hemisphere, armchair discussion with Walter Bastian, deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington D.C.; Monday talk moderated by Drew Johnston, president of Walgren Co., and Tuesday talk moderated by Kendra Kuo, U.S. Department of Commerce

March 31 and April 1: “Is China Opening Up orClosing Down?,” by James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic

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