Feature Story

Great Decisions 2015

January 14, 2015 – by Corinne Lyman

DELAWARE, Ohio—The 2015 Great Decisions Community Discussion Series of U.S. Foreign Policy talks will cover the globe with conversations regarding Russia, human trafficking, Africa, Brazil, India and privacy.

Two sessions will concentrate on the Middle East, the first focused on the Syrian conflict and its refugee crisis, and the second on sectarianism, with its often lethal intertwining of ethnicity, minorities, identity, religion and nationalism.

“Russia and the Near Abroad” will be the opening talk by Sean Kay, Ohio Wesleyan professor of politics and government, chair of the International Studies Program, and director of the Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs. Kay also is a Mershon Associate at The Ohio State University’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies. The Ukraine is only one of the dozen or more neighborhood states formerly incorporated into the Soviet Union whose independent and/or pro-Western tendencies the Russian government has come to profoundly resent.

All Great Decisions discussions will be held at noon in the Fellowship Hall of William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William St. Attendees are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch. Complimentary coffee and tea will be provided.

Distinguished speakers during the eight-session series are as follows:

February 6 – Russia and the Near Abroad

Sean Kay, Chair, International Studies Program, Director, Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs; Professor, Politics and Government, OWU; Mershon Associate, OSU.

February 13 – Privacy in the Digital Age

Kirk Herath, Vice President, Assistant General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, Nationwide Insurance

February 20 – Brazil’s Metamorphosis

James Franklin, Chair, Politics and Government Department, OWU.

February 27 – U.S. Policy Toward Africa

Randolph Quaye, Professor, Black World Studies; Director, Black World Studies Program, OWU.

March 6 – Syria’s Refugee Crisis

Brenda Gable, OWU student who participated in a study-abroad program sponsored by the School for International Training in Amman, Jordan and a former summer intern at the Syrian-American Medical Society.

March 13 – Human Trafficking in the 21ST Century

Samantha Hudson, Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Program Coordinator, Salvation Army, Gregory Dalga, Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security, Tabitha Woodruff, Esq., Legislative Advocacy Chair, Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition.

March 20 – Sectarianism in the Middle East

Blake Michael, Professor, Religion Department, OWU.

March 27 – India Changes Course

Irfan Nooruddin, Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Affiliated, Lokniti–Programme for Comparative Democracy, New Delhi; OWU alumnus.

Audience Participation

Following each discussion, participants will have the option of completing a quick survey – prepared by the Foreign Policy Association – to add their opinions to thousands of others across the nation. The survey results will be made available to local media and sent to Washington, D.C., where our voice as a community can be heard by federal decision-makers.


Grateful thanks to the following local organizations for their generous and continuing support over the decades of our existence: the American Association of University Women, Kiwanis, League of Women Voters, International Studies Program at Ohio Wesleyan University, Council for Older Adults, William Street United Methodist Church, Willow Brook Christian Communities, and private donors.

About Great Decisions

The Great Decisions Discussion Program, a free community discussion series, is designed to encourage debate and discussion of the role of the United States in world affairs. The program provides materials that help people reach informed opinions on issues and encourages them to participate in the foreign-policy process. Developed by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) in 1954, the Great Decisions Discussion Program is the longest-standing and largest grassroots world affairs educational program of its kind. It is the core of FPA’s civic education outreach efforts, bringing millions of Americans together in communities across the country to discover, discuss, and decide their opinions on foreign policy issues. Learn more at www.greatdecisions.org.

About the Foreign Policy Association

The Foreign Policy Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the American public to learn more about the world. Founded in 1918, FPA provides independent publications, programs and forums to increase public awareness of, and foster popular participation in, matters relating to those policy issues. Learn more at www.fpa.org.