Great Decisions partnership extends into Germany

Pictured from left to right: Piram Prakasam, Jakob Lempp, Michael Van Denend, Erica Kubik

The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan (WACWM) has been sponsoring the Great Decisions global discussion series since the mid-1950s, encouraging West Michigan residents, companies, schools and organizations to think deeply about international issues of importance.

This year, the discussions in West Michigan will bring in participants from across the Atlantic.

Rhein-Waal University, an educational institution in Kleve, Germany, will be livestreaming the 2019 Great Decisions series from Grand Rapids to Kleve so that a class on international relations might use the topics and expert speakers as the foundation for coursework.

WACWM staff became aware of Rhein-Waal because of the German school’s partnership with Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Ferris and Rhein-Waal have developed a reciprocal learning agreement, with students from both institutions studying abroad for a semester. As an educational partner with WACWM, Piram Prakasam, executive director of international education at Ferris State University, shared the Great Decisions curriculum with Rhein-Waal faculty, who quickly became interested in the content as foundational course material.

“Among other things, in the future it will be possible to integrate the lecture series 'Great Decisions' as a web-based learning resource into the teaching of the Faculty of Society and Economics,“ noted Dr. Jakob Lempp, Rhein-Waal’s dean of the faculty. “In the 2019 series, diplomats, politicians, think tank specialists and journalists will speak on various topics of international relations.“

The Great Decisions series features eight topics selected by the Foreign Policy Association of America as issues every American community ought to know more about and discuss thoughtfully together. WACWM brings in eight experts to lead these discussions; in 2019 on every Monday night and Tuesday noon of February and March. The Monday evening presentations are on the Aquinas College campus at 7:00 p.m. and the Tuesday noon presentations are on the Calvin College campus.

The Tuesday presentations are livestreamed across Michigan and the U.S.—and now, to Germany with the addition of Rhein-Waal University.

Rhein-Waal joins Ferris and nine other higher education institutions as schools who use WACWM’s Great Decisions series either in a for-credit class or as educational supplements to curriculum: Aquinas, Calvin, Davenport, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State, Kendall, Montcalm Community College, Northern Michigan and Western Michigan.

See for the series details.