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Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series

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. Andrews 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.           

Great Decisions bookSpring 2018 Series Starts on February 6

Register Today!  Deadline to register is January 18

  • Tuesday mornings, 9:30–11:30 a.m
  • St. Andrew’s Village, Bristol Court Dining Room

February 6

The Waning of Pax Americana

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.

February 13

Russia's Foreign Policy

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?

February 20

China and America: the new geopolitical equation

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?

February 27

Media and Foreign Policy

Michele Papakie—Journalism

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?

March 6

Turkey: a partner in crisis

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.

March 13

IUP Spring Break (No lecture)

March 20

US global engagement and the military

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?

March 27

South Africa's fragile democracy

Jennifer SmithGeography 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.

April 3

Global health: progress and challenges

Abigail Adams—Anthropology

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.