World Affairs Council announces Great Decisions series lineup

Image of migrants in a boat

Migration, cyber-security, China and trade, and the fate of the State Department. The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan once again tackles some of the most important global issues facing our nation in its annual Great Decisions series, scheduled for February and March of 2019.

Audience members will hear from two former U.S. Ambassadors, top foreign business experts, a special agent from the FBI, and an award-winning journalist flying directly from Beirut. These speakers will use their diverse expertise to lead conversations on the following topics:

February 4 and 5: “State of the State Department,” Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, president of the American Foreign Service Association

February 11 and 12: “Democracy on the Run: Dispatches from Eastern Europe,” Carol Schaeffer, freelance journalist

February 18 and 19: “Immigration Policy beyond the Border,” Ambassador Jim Nealon, former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras

February 25 and 26: “A New Nuclear Arms Race?” Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association

March 4 and 5: “China-U.S. Trade War,” Amy Celico, Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG)

March 11 and 12: “Life after the Arab Uprisings and the Islamic State,” Rania Abouzeid, author of No Turning Back: Life, Loss, and Hope in Wartime Syria (just named a NYT “Notable Book” for 2018)

March 18 and 19: “Global Cyber Threats,” Peter Jolliffe, FBI

March 25 and 26: “Mexico and the U.S.: The Economic Ties that Bind,” Carlos Capistran, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Mexico City)

This year, the series will offer two options to hear these respected speakers live: Monday evenings at 6:00 p.m. in the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center and Tuesday at noon at Calvin College in the Recital Hall of the Covenant Fine Arts Center. Each of the eight presentations scheduled for 2019 also features a question-answer session.

Cost to attend the discussion is $10 per presentation, and $60 for a series pass. No reservations are needed. World Affairs Council of Western Michigan’s Corporate and Senator members attend free—as do the students, faculty and staff of WACWM member institutions: Aquinas, Calvin, Davenport, Ferris State, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State, Kendall, Montcalm Community College, and Western Michigan. The Council also broadcasts the series to remote educational partners Northern Michigan University (Marquette, MI) and Rhine-Waal University (Germany).

WACWM is the local sponsor of Great Decisions, America’s largest discussion program on world affairs, produced by the New York City-based Foreign Policy Association (FPA). The Council has sponsored the series for more than 60 years.

More information on the series and the speakers is available at: