All Press Releases for January 21, 2017

World Affairs Council of Western Michigan Announces 2017 Great Decisions Global Discussions, Expansion into Holland

Global health issues, nuclear proliferation, the complexity of U.S.-Saudi and U.S.-China relations are a few of the dynamic topics being explored at the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

    GRAND RAPIDS, MI, January 21, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Global health issues, nuclear proliferation, the complexity of U.S.-Saudi and U.S.-China relations are a few of the dynamic topics being explored as the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan launches its 2017 Great Decisions Global Discussion Series.

Discussions will take place Feb. 6 through April 3 and feature national scholars and experts - including Jack Segal, former National Security Council director for nonproliferation, and John Adams, former brigadier general of the U.S. Army - who will share their knowledge and hold stimulating discussions on foreign policy and global issues.

The series will also expand into Holland as Hope College strengthens its relationship with the World Affairs Council by offering the Great Decisions series to students and area residents free of charge.

"As our country faces the uncertainties of a new administration and continued upheaval around the world, it's more important than ever to equip ourselves with accurate information and informed opinions," said Dixie Anderson, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. "We are delighted to again welcome some of the leading experts on the most pressing global issues of our times to our 2017 Great Decisions series.

"Our format allows people to draw close and gain a personal perspective on the most relevant issues of the day. As the longest-running discussion series in West Michigan, we make it possible to hear from an impressive group of scholars, researchers and policy makers without ever leaving Grand Rapids."

Anderson, who has helmed the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan for more than 20 years, was honored last fall by the Foreign Policy Association with the Foreign Policy Association Medal for her work to expand public knowledge of international affairs. Past recipients have included the late Walter Cronkite, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other prominent educators, statesmen and economists.

Each of the eight presentations scheduled for 2017 will also feature an extensive question-answer session that allows speakers to present and then take questions from the audience. In Holland, discussions will be held at 1 p.m. at Graves Hall, 263 College Ave. on the Hope College campus. In Grand Rapids, discussions will be held at the Performing Arts Center at Aquinas College, 1700 Fulton Street SE at 6 p.m.

"Each Great Decisions speaker provides an extraordinary opportunity for Hope students and faculty to learn from an expert on a timely global issue," said John Knapp, president of Hope College. "We are also delighted to welcome the Holland community to these programs and to stream them online to other colleges and universities."

The series will feature:

Monday, Feb. 6: "Rx: Prescription for Latin America" Jason Beaubien, a National Public Radio correspondent, will review his diagnosis of the current global health issues, including those in Latin America. Beaubien has spent years covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean as well as filed stories on Mexico's brutal drug war, politics in Cuba and received a Peabody Award in 2015 for his team's coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Monday, Feb. 13: "Choke Points: Global Water, Food and Energy Crises" Keith Schneider, from Circle of Blue, an environmental think tank based in Traverse City, and Liz Kirkwood, environmental lawyer who led the "Oil & Water Don't Mix" Campaign against the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Mackinac straits, will lead a conversation about the challenges posed by significant water risks here in Michigan and beyond.

Monday, Feb. 20: "Nuclear Proliferation: New Worries" With thousands of nuclear warheads deployed and in storage around the world, it seems inevitable that nuclear bombs may fall into the wrong hands. Yet in the 75 years of the nuclear era, this hasn't happened. Why? Join Jack Segal, the former National Security Council director for nonproliferation, as he leads a discussion on the future of nuclear security.

Monday, Feb. 27: "South China Sea: Clash of Strategies" John Adams, retired brigadier general U.S. Army, shares his expertise and take on current U.S.-China relations. He will analyze Chinese actions in the South China Sea and elsewhere, exploring how they can be a roadmap for the United States response to this growing world power.

Monday, Mar. 13: "Afghanistan: Fight . . . or Run?" Ronald E. Neumann served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 and continues to make frequent trips to the region. He joins us to explain the complexity of Afghanistan and our country's role there. In his tenure as ambassador, he met with senior leaders, journalists, soldiers and business insiders, and possesses a depth of experience that can lead to a better understanding of this delicate situation.

Monday, Mar. 20: "Is it all Politics? Trade and U.S. Jobs" One needs to look no further than the past presidential election to understand the popular narrative: trade means that China wins at America's expense. But do the numbers support that conclusion? Jeremy Haft, Georgetown University professor and CEO of SafeSource Trading, assesses the rhetoric and the reality of global trade and U.S. jobs.

Monday, Mar. 27: "The E.U.: An Uncertain Future" John McCormick, professor of European Union Politics at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, explores the future of the European Union as it faces Brexit, the Eurozone crisis and Syrian migration. McCormick will share his analysis in the context of rising populism around the world as well as growing criticism of immigration and globalization.

Monday, Apr. 3: "Shifts in the Sand: U.S.-Saudi Relations" Simon Henderson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, will review the complicated relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia in the face of a Trump administration and the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

For more information on sessions, dates and times, as well as detailed information on speakers, visit

In addition to strong participation from World Affairs Council members and the general community, more than 100 college students will take the series through their respective political science or international departments. Local participating colleges include Aquinas College, Calvin College, Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Montcalm Community College and Western Michigan University.

Additionally, Kent District Library has joined the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan as an educational partner. Patrons of the library may attend any Great Decisions event and may also sign up for complimentary email notices of upcoming Council events.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette will also have students participating in this year's series via an interactive webcast.

There is no cost to attend the events at Hope College.

Cost to attend the Grand Rapids discussions is $10 for each discussion. No reservations are needed. World Affairs Council of West Michigan's corporate and Senator members attend free, as do students, faculty and staff of the schools listed above. Tickets are available at the door. Free parking is available at Aquinas College. Complimentary email notices of upcoming Council events are available to those who sign up on the website, at one of the Council's events or by emailing [email protected] Email addresses are only used internally and are never shared or sold.

World Affairs Council of Western Michigan offers curated news and commentary on international topics from some of the world's leading media outlets. The "World News" section on is updated each Wednesday with relevant articles on global issues drawn from The New York Times, The Guardian, The Economist and other news organizations. Anderson said the offering allows those strapped for time to find objective "news they can use" with one click.

The World Affairs Council is the local sponsor of these eight current foreign policy topics as determined by the New York City-based Foreign Policy Association. The Council has sponsored the series for more than 50 years.

For more information on the Grand Rapids series, visit or phone 616.776.1721. For information on the Holland series, visit

The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, in existence since 1949, is dedicated to educating people in western Michigan about other 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 non-profit organization. With 60 member companies and almost 3,000 members, it's considered one of the best Councils in the national network of 100 World Affairs Councils.

# # #

Contact Information

Mary Ann Sabo
Sabo PR
Grand Rapids, Michigan
United States
Voice: 616-485-1432
E-Mail: Email Us Here