Are you interested in understanding the world a bit better? Then this lecture series, based on the Great Decisions books of the nonpartisan Foreign Policy Association, might be for you.
Great Decisions is the nation’s largest nonpartisan study, discussion, and action program on contemporary foreign policy issues.
Gathering with others who share your interest, you’ll learn about eight of the most important world issues the United States will face in the coming year and beyond.
This series is open to everyone and is held at St. Andrew’s Senior Living Community in Indiana. Classes meet once a week for eight weeks.
Each discussion session will be led by a topical expert, and a briefing booklet will be provided.
Mac Fiddner—Political Science
During the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency, the United States began a historic shift away from Pax Americana, the liberal international order that was established in the wake of World War II. Since 1945, Pax Americana has promised peaceful international
relations and an open economy, buttressed by US military power. In championing “America First” isolationism and protectionism, President Trump has shifted the political mood toward selective US engagement, where foreign commitments are limited to
areas of vital US interest and economic nationalism is the order of the day. Geopolitical allies and challengers alike are paying close attention.
Howard Hastings—Political Science
Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is projecting an autocratic model of governance abroad and working to undermine the influence of liberal democracies, namely along Russia’s historical borderlands. Russia caused an international uproar in 2016, when
it interfered in the US presidential contest. But Putin’s foreign policy toolkit includes other instruments, from alliances with autocrats to proxy wars with the United States in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. How does Putin conceive of national interests,
and why Russian citizens support him? How should the United States respond to Putin’s foreign policy ambitions?
Steve Jackson—Political Science
In the last 15 years, China has implemented a wide-ranging strategy of economic outreach and expansion of all its national capacities, including military and diplomatic capacities. Where the United States has take a step back from multilateral trade agreements
and discarded the Trans-Pacific Partnership, China has made inroads through efforts like the Belt and Road initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. What are Beijing’s geopolitical objectives? What leadership and political conditions
in each society underlie growing Sino-American tensions? What policies might Washington adopt to address this circumstance?
State and non-state actors today must maneuver a complex and rapidly evolving media landscape. Conventional journalism now competes with user-generated content. Official channels of communication can be circumvented through social media. Foreign policy
is tweeted from the White House, and “fake news” has entered the zeitgeist. Cyberwarfare, hacking, and misinformation pose complex security threats. How are actors using media to pursue and defend their interests in the international arena? What are
the implications of US policy?
Rachel Sternfeld—Political Science
Of all NATO allies, Turkey represents the most daunting challenge for the Trump administration. In the wake of a failed military coup in 2016, the autocratic trend in Ankara took a turn for the worse. One year on, an overwhelming majority of the population
considers the United States to be their country’s greatest security threat. In this age of a worsening “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West, even more important than its place on the map is what Turkey symbolically represents as the
most institutionally Westernized Muslim country in the world.
LTC Dennis Faulkner—ROTC Program
The global power balance is rapidly evolving, leaving the United States at a turning point with respect to its level of engagement and the role of its military. Some argue for an “America First” paradigm, with a large military to ensure security, while
others call for a more assertive posture overseas. Some advocate for a restoration of American multilateral leadership and a strengthened role for diplomacy. Still others envision a restrained US role, involving a more limited military. How does the
military function in today’s international order, and how might it be balanced with diplomatic and foreign assistance capabilities?
Jennifer Smith—Geography and Regional Planning
The African National Congress party has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994. But, the party today suffers from popular frustration over official corruption and economic stagnation. It faces growing threats from both left and right
opposition parties, even as intraparty divisions surface. Given America’s history of opportunistic engagement with Africa, there are few prospects for a closer relationship between the two countries. Meanwhile, a weaker ANC could lead to political
fragmentation in this relatively new democracy.
The collective action of countries, communities, and organizations over the last 30 years has literally saved millions of lives around the world. Yet, terrible inequalities in health and wellbeing persist. The world now faces a mix of old and new health
challenges, including the preventable deaths of mothers and children, continuing epidemics of infectious diseases, and rising rates of chronic disease. We also remain vulnerable to the emergence of new and deadly pandemics. For these reasons, the
next several decades will be just as important—if not more so—than the last in determining wellbeing across nations.