The McDonough Center brings The Great Decisions Series to the Mid-Ohio Valley in order to promote community discussion on current international issues. The series is part of an annual national project organized by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), with headquarters in New York City. According to its website, FPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to “inspiring the American public to learn more about the world.” Founded in 1918, the Foreign Policy Association serves as “a catalyst for developing awareness, understanding of, and providing informed opinions on global issues. Through its balanced, nonpartisan programs and publications, the FPA encourages citizens to participate in the foreign policy process.”

The Great Decision Series is held at McDonough on Sunday afternoons for six weeks beginning in January. An upper-class McDonough Scholar serves as the program coordinator. The weekly sessions are divided into two parts: (1) Guest speaker (review of the topic by an expert in the field); and (2) discussion of the topic facilitated by the leadership students. The McDonough Scholars are trained in facilitation and use this discussion as an opportunity to practice their leadership skills. Before adjourning, each participant completes an opinion ballot. The ballot information then is sent to FPA, which drafts a report showing public opinion on pertinent topics involving U.S. foreign policy.

FPA recently featured on its website the McDonough model for bringing the series to communities around the country. Please click HERE to read the FPA story about McDonough.

The 2016 Great Decisions Series at McDonough

(January 17-February 21, 2016)

Location: The McDonough Center at Marietta College (Robert E. Evans Case Study Room 205)

Time: Sunday afternoons from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Program Coordinator: Becky Burkhart (Cohort 27)

To register for the 2016 Great Decisions Series at McDonough, click HERE.

Great Decisions 2016 Topics:

JANUARY 17: THE RISE OF ISIS. Born out of an umbrella organization of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) burst onto the international stage after it seized Fallujah in December 2013. Since then, the group has seized control of a number of critical strongholds in the country and declared itself a caliphate, known as the Islamic State. Still, the question remains: What is ISIS, and what danger does it pose to U.S. interests?

Presenter: Dr. Mark Schaefer, Associate Professor of Political Science, Marietta College. Research Interests: International Relations Theory, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Emerging Powers. Author of The Formation of the BRICS and its Implication for the United States: Emerging Together (2014).

Discussion Facilitators: Jonah Mitchell (Cohort 28) and Emily Brown (Cohort 29).

JANUARY 24: MIGRATION. As a record number of migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea to find refuge in Europe, the continent is struggling to come up with an adequate response. Although Europe’s refugees are largely fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and parts of Africa, their struggle is hardly unique. Today, with the number of displaced people at an all-time high, a number of world powers find themselves facing a difficult question: how can they balance border security with humanitarian concerns? More importantly, what can they do to resolve these crises so as to limit the number of displaced persons?

Presenter: Dr. Matt Young, Professor of History, Marietta College. Recent Courses Taught: Introduction to Human Geography, Recent American History, World War II.

Discussion Facilitators: Lindsey Arnold (Cohort 28) and Sadie Johnson (Cohort 29).

JANUARY 31: THE UNITED NATIONS. On the eve of the international organization’s 70th birthday, the United Nations stands at a crossroads. This year marks a halfway point in the organization’s global effort to eradicate poverty, hunger and discrimination, as well as ensure justice and dignity for all peoples. But as the UN’s 193 member states look back at the success of the millennium development goals, they also must assess their needs for its sustainable development goals — a new series of benchmarks, which are set to expire in 2030. With the appointment of the ninth secretary-general in the near future as well, the next UN leader is bound to have quite a lot on his or her plate going into office.

Presenter: Dr. Mike Tager, Professor of Political Science, Marietta College. Faculty Adviser: Model United Nations Team.

Discussion Facilitators: Mandee Younge (Cohort 28) and Logan Reynolds (Cohort 29).

FEBRUARY 7: CUBA AND THE U.S. The U.S. announced in December 2014 that, after decades of isolation, it has begun taking major steps to normalize relations with Cuba. The announcement marks a dramatic shift away from a policy that has its roots in one of the darkest moments of the Cold War — the Cuban missile crisis. Although the U.S. trade embargo is unlikely to end any time soon, American and Cuban leaders today are trying to bring a relationship, once defined by antithetical ideologies, into the 21st century.

Presenter: Dr. Samuel Cruz, Visiting Instructor of Spanish, Department of Modern Languages, Marietta College. Research: Latin American Literature.

Discussion Facilitators: Allison Watkins (Cohort 28) and Matthew Johnson (Cohort 29).

FEBRUARY 14: THE KOREAS. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided in two. The northern half of the Korean peninsula was occupied by the Soviet Union, the southern by the United States. Today, North and South Korea couldn’t be further apart. The North is underdeveloped, impoverished and ruled by a corrupt, authoritarian government, while the South advanced rapidly to become one of the most developed countries in the world. With such a wide gap, some are asking if unification is possible, even desirable, anymore?

Presenter: Dr. Cheongmi Shim, Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication, Marietta College. Native of South Korea. Research: Cross-cultural communication.

Discussion Facilitators: Sam Welch (Cohort 28) and Erika Wick (Cohort 29).

FEBRUARY 21: CLIMATE CHANGE. In the past few years, the American public has become more aware of the damage wrought by climate change. From droughts in the west to extreme weather in the wast, a rapidly changing climate has already made its footprint in the United States. Now, it’s expected that the presidential election in 2016 will be one of the first ever to place an emphasis on these environmental changes. What can the next president do to stymie this environmental crisis? And is it too late for these efforts to be effective?

Presenter: Prof. Ben Ebenhack, Associate Professor of Petroleum Engineering, Marietta College. Author of The Path to More Sustainable Energy Systems (2013). Faculty Coordinator of the Engineering Leadership Certificate Program.

Discussion FacilitatorsEvan Hensel (Cohort 28) and Julienna Batten (Cohort 29).


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