Fall 2020 Virtual Programming
Past events

A Conversation with

Her Excellency Martha Bárcena Coqui

Ambassador of Mexico to the United States

Photograph of Ambassador Martha Barcena, Mexican Ambassador to the U.S.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM (Eastern)

Virtual event. Public invited.

Archive available.

Much has changed since Ambassador Bárcena visited West Michigan in 2019. Yet the ties that bind Michigan and Mexico remain. Join us for a conversation with the Ambassador, where she will speak on North American trade relations post-USMCA; the continuing COVID-19 crisis; and the Mexican-U.S. relationship. Joining in the conversation will be WACWM board member and Latinx consultant Adnoris "Bo" Torres.

With gratitude to 

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Talking Java: The Future of Coffee

with Frankie Volkema, Joven Coffee

Image of Frankie Volkema of Joven Coffee

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

7:00 - 8:00 PM (Eastern)


Virtual event. Public invited.

Archive available.

The Council welcomes the world’s youngest coffee Q grader, 14-year-old Frankie Volkema, to talk about global coffee and what she’s learned about connecting with coffee growers in Burundi and Colombia. Joven, which means "youth" in Spanish, is a brand developed by Volkema to help raise awareness of young farmers in the coffee industry and the steps we can take to create a more sustainable and brighter future, one sip at a time. 


The Future of Hong Kong

with Jennifer Staats, Director, East and Southeast Asia Programs,

US Institute of Peace

Image of Jennifer Staats

Thursday, October 1, 2020

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM (Eastern)

Virtual event. Public invited.

Archive available.

China’s new national security legislation went into effect in Hong Kong in June, giving Beijing new tools to control public discourse in the city, eliminating freedom of speech, mandating digital surveillance, and granting China extraterritorial powers to enforce the new law. Now, three months later, how have these changes affected those living in Hong Kong? And how does this change global conversations on self-determination and human rights? What does this mean for U.S.-China relations and the rest of Asia?

LikeWar: How Social Media has become weaponized, and what we need to know about it

with P.W. Singer, Strategist and

Author of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media

Image of P.W. Singer

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM (Eastern)

Virtual event. Public invited.

Webinar will be viewable live and as an archive.

Free to Senator members, employees of our corporate members and faculty, staff, and students of our educational partners.

General admission: $10

Terrorists livestream their attacks, elections are fought over social media, and viral misinformation alters not just the result of battles, but share prices, public health, and even the very fate of nations. The result is that the Internet had blurred into a new kind of battlespace that plays out on our smartphones. P. W. Singer is the author of “LikeWar,” an Amazon book of the year that has been lauded by figures as diverse as the creator of the Internet, the director of the CIA, and the producer of The Purge movies. For five years, he researched how social media works and its effect on the world, crossing examples that ranged from how ISIS copies the Instagram tactics of Taylor Swift to how China uses a smartphone app to police the thoughts of 1.4 billion citizens. Described in the Wall Street Journal as “the premier futurist in the national- security environment,” Singer uses an exciting and entertaining speaking style to explain how and why things go viral, the new rules of power in the age of social media, and exactly what can we all do to navigate our way through a world increasingly shaped by “likes” and lies.


Policing in a Global Context

with Patrick Skinner, Savannah Georgia Police Department

Image of Patrick Skinner

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM (Eastern)

Virtual event. Public invited.

Free to Senator members, employees of our corporate members and faculty, staff, and students of our educational partners.

General admission: $10

The murder of George Floyd this summer sparked protests and conversations on the roles and responsibilities of the police in American communities, structural inequalities that contribute, and questions of how we address these issues. Using his experiences as an ex-CIA agent in counter-terrorism, speaker Patrick Skinner reflects on the lessons he learned abroad and how he uses them now as a local police officer in Georgia. Can we re-frame narratives of policing and change the ways that police serve their communities?

Patrick Skinner is a police officer in his hometown of Savannah, Ga. He is a former CIA operations officer and served in the United States Coast Guard. He spoke to our Council in 2016 to discuss the Rise of ISIS when employed at the Soufan Group, and we are eager to hear his perspectives in his new role.  Active on social media, he has also written several pieces or been interviewed in national outlets.  Here’s an example of a recent piece.

Watch the archive.


CHINA Town Hall

from the National Committee on U.S. China Relations

Image of Ray Dalio

Keynote with Ray Dalio

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

7:00  - 8:00 PM (Eastern)

Local roundtable discussion

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

12:00 - 1:00 PM (Eastern )

CHINA Town Hall connects leading China experts with Americans around the country for a national conversation on the implications of China’s rise on U.S.-China relations and its impact on our towns, states, and nation. The National Committee is proud to partner with a range of institutions and community groups, colleges and universities, trade and business associations, and world affairs councils to bring this important national conversation to local communities around America for the 14th consecutive year.

In light of the growing downturn in U.S.-China relations over the past year, CHINA Town Hall has expanded from a single night into a multi-night series of programming to address the range of issues confronting the relationship. The series will kick off with a keynote event with renowned investor Ray Dalio, followed by events on three subsequent evenings, each focused on a specific issue area: economics and trade, climate and health, and society and culture. In addition, a fifth Mandarin-language event will be held for Chinese-speaking audiences in the United States, China, and around the world.

In addition to these national conversations,  join us for a local roundtable discussion on how the U.S.- China relationship affects Michigan.

Archive of local roundtable discussion

National CHINA Town Hall events

Bio of Ray Dalio


Programming from our National Network

Join conversations on global issues from our partners in the World Affairs Council national network:

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2020 World Affairs Councils of America National Conference


November 16-20, 2020

For four decades, the WACA National Conference has brought World Affairs Council leaders and members to engage with top government officials, diplomats, business executives, innovators, journalists, educators, and students on the most pressing global issues and policy choices that impact our lives.

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2020 Journalism under Fire Conference

from Santa Fe Council on International Relations


November 10 - December 3, 2020

A fascinating digital dialogue with journalists, political cartoonists, photojournalists, and academics on Covering Crisis.