'Great Decisions Series' opens 2008 season Jan. 27 in McDonough

The Marietta branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the McDonough Center are co-hosting this spring's 2008 Great Decisions Series - a six-week long educational program designed to enrich local community members' understanding of international issues. The series opens Jan. 27 on Marietta College's campus.

"This series is a great opportunity for collaboration between the College and the community. This event also allows our students to practice their facilitation skills," said Dr. Gama Perruci, dean of McDonough. "Shauna Payne, the student coordinator, has done a terrific job organizing the series, and I'm excited that we will be able to host the event on campus again."

The Great Decisions Series is part of a national program developed by Foreign Policy Association (FPA), a national organization that sponsors similar discussion series all over the country.

The Great Decisions Series offers the possibility for people in the local area to learn more about current world issues and concerns through reading written materials, listening to formal presentations, discussing the material with the aid of a facilitator, and to finally share their opinions by submitting opinion ballots after each small group discussion of the weekly topic. The ballot information then becomes part of the grassroots feedback that is sent by FPA as a final report to The White House, the departments of State and Defense, and Congress.

The series is held at the McDonough Center from 2-4 p.m. on the following Sunday - Jan. 27, Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24 and March 2. There are currently 35 members of the community signed up to participate in the series.

Each week during the six-week series a member of the Marietta College faculty will present an overview of one of the topics. This year's topics include: The European Union at 50, U.S.-China Economic Relations, Latin America's Shift to the Left, Russia under President Putin, Private Philanthropy, and Iraq. Following the opening session each week, members of the Marietta Branch of AAUW will host a refreshment break. At the conclusion of the break, series participants will gather to discuss the day's topic. Students from the McDonough Leadership Program will facilitate the group discussions. Before adjourning, each participant will complete an opinion ballot that will be tabulated for the series summary.

The McDonough Center is named in honor of Bernard P. McDonough (1903-85), a self-made industrialist and entrepreneur who ran wide-ranging global business interests from his Marmac Corporation headquarters in Parkersburg, W.Va. From humble beginnings, he built an industrial empire after World War II with diverse holdings, including concrete plants, construction companies, shoe factories, marine barges, lawn and garden tool factories, and sand and gravel operations.

In 1986, through a generous $5.5 million gift from McDonough's wife, Alma McDonough, and the McDonough Foundation, Marietta College established the Bernard P. McDonough Center for Leadership and Business. The Center offered one of the first comprehensive undergraduate leadership programs in the United States.

During the 2007-08 academic year, McDonough is celebrating its 20th anniversary.