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World Affairs Council producing speaker series

January 25, 2018
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Stephanie Young
Stephanie Young. Courtesy RAND

A local nonprofit focused on global issues is hosting a speaker series that begins next week.

The Great Decisions Global Discussion Series by the Grand Rapids-based World Affairs Council of Western Michigan takes place Jan. 29 through March 26.

The series features national scholars and experts who will stimulate conversations on global issues and foreign policy.

The format begins with a lecture and is followed by a question-answer session.

“We call this edition of the Great Decisions series ‘Context for a Complex World,’ because the amount of information coming our way these days is overwhelming,” said Michael Van Denend, executive director, World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. “Through these presentations, we hope to help our community step back for a bit and ponder how we can engage thoughtfully in a complicated world.”

Each presentation will be available twice: from noon to 1 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Calvin College Covenant Fine Arts Center in Grand Rapids, at 1795 Knollcrest Cir. SE, and again from 6-7:15 p.m. in the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, at 1703 Robinson Rd. SE.

Discussions are $10 each at the door. No reservations are needed. Free parking is available at Calvin and Aquinas colleges.

The World Affairs Council of West Michigan’s corporate and senator members attend free, as do students, faculty and staff of participating schools: Aquinas College; Calvin College; Davenport University; Ferris State University; Grand Rapids Community College; Grand Valley State University; Kendall College of Art and Design; Montcalm Community College; and Western Michigan University.


Jan. 29: “Foreign Policy in a Twitter Universe”
William Dobson, senior supervising editor, international desk, NPR

Dobson will discuss how the world is changing as a result of new media and what this means for U.S. policy.

Feb. 5: “China in the World: Conundrums of a Socialist Market Economy”
Badrinath Rao, associate professor of sociology and Asian studies, Kettering University

Rao will discuss how China will respond to major challenges as the country attempts to move toward its plans of global leadership, and how it will affect the global community.

Feb. 12: “Trouble Brewing: Can the U.S. and Turkey Cooperate?”
Sinan Ciddi, director, Institute for Turkish Studies, Georgetown University

Ciddi will discuss the U.S.-Turkish relationship and the damage it has suffered since the onset of heightened instability in the region.

Feb. 19: “The Right Bang for Our Bucks: The U.S. Defense Budget”
Stephanie Young, defense budget expert, RAND Corporation

Young will discuss the role of the military and its relationship with the world and Americans in years to come.

Feb. 26: “Is American Global Leadership Waning?”
Amitav Acharya, UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance at the School of International Service, American University

Acharya will discuss the changing global order and what it means for American leadership.

March 12: “Putin, Russia and the New Cold War?”
Susan Glasser, chief international affairs columnist, POLITICO and co-author of “Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin and the End of Revolution”

Glasser will discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership and tactics, whether there is a new Cold War brewing and how the U.S. will respond.

March 19: “South Africa at a Crossroads: Implications for U.S.-South Africa Relations”
Desirée Cormier, senior director, Africa practice, Albright Stonebridge Group

Cormier will discuss the implications for South Africa and U.S. foreign policy in the region as major issues threaten to bring down the African National Congress, the party that has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.

March 26: “Global Health: Equity, Ethics and Eradication”
Ambassador Mary Ann Peters (ret.), CEO, The Carter Center

Peters will discuss the campaign against neglected tropical diseases, using examples from the work of The Carter Center.

World Affairs Council of Western Michigan

The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, founded in 1949, is dedicated to educating people in West Michigan about the countries and cultures of the world, as well as providing a forum for discussion of critical foreign policy issues.

It is a non-partisan, non-advocacy educational nonprofit with 50 corporate members, 10 educational partners and nearly 3,000 members.

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