Great Decisions 2020 series shines a light on eight global topics


award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario

Since the late 1950s the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan (WACWM) has been bringing the “Great Decisions” program to West Michigan, and once again for eight consecutive weeks in February and March of 2020, timely global issues will be locally examined.

The topics come from the Foreign Policy Association of America (FPA) in New York as the “eight most critical issues facing America each year.” This year’s subjects are Climate Change and the Global Order; India and Pakistan; Red Sea Security; Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking; U.S. Relations with the Northern Triangle; China’s Road into Latin America; The Philippines and the U.S.; and Artificial Intelligence and Data.

“As soon as we get the eight topics from the FPA, we assemble a local group of university professors and make lists of the speaker-experts we wish to bring here to lead us in these conversations,” said Erica Kubik, the director of programming for WACWM.

The Great Decisions 2020 series will run from February 10-11 through March 30-31, with a Monday evening presentation in the Performing Arts Center on the Aquinas College campus followed by a repeated program at 12 noon on Tuesdays at Calvin University’s Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall.

The Tuesday presentations are livestreamed across the state, to venues such as Northern Michigan University, City Hall in Holland, the Dogwood Center in Fremont, and the U.S.S. Silversides Museum in Muskegon. Last year, a German university, Rhein-Waal in Kleve, also brought in the programs for its students.

Already booked for the series is Sonia Nazario, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Enrique’s Journey (Northern Triangle); Margaret Myers, the director of the Asian & Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue (China/Latin America); Steve Dalzell of the Rand Corporation (Red Sea Security); and Lindsey Sheppard from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (Artificial Intelligence).

The full list of speaker-experts will be announced next month.

WACWM is grateful to Wolverine Worldwide for its support of the Great Decisions series, and to program hosts Aquinas College and Calvin University.