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Programming continues on-line for 'Future of Work'


The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan shifted quickly to on-line programming in the wake of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders in Michigan.

With three weeks remaining on its award-winning Great Decisions Global Discussions series, the Council moved the final speakers to a Zoom Webinar platform and livestreamed the presentations on its YouTube channel (Lindsey Sheppard and Margaret Myers) and on Vimeo (Sonia Nazario).

"Thanks to excellent teamwork and swift pivots to digital formats we were able to keep our promise to our partner colleges and universities to provide quality global issues content," said WACWM executive director Michael Van Denend.

"Some of our member colleges use Great Decisions for classroom content and assignments, and those professors already had a heavy lift to move their teaching to on-line," said WACWM director of programming Erica Kubik. "We wanted them to know that Great Decisions would still be available."

The three remaining programs drew healthy views on YouTube and Vimeo, with the artificial intelligence presentations by Lindsey Sheppard of CSIS drawing over 500 views.

The Council's success with Great Decisions led to conversations with Kent District Library (KDL) officials on moving the traditional spring series, typically hosted by a library branch, to on-line as well.

"The Future of Work" three-part series kicked off of April 14 with Kristin Sharp of Entangled Solutions presenting on Zoom Webinar and YouTube from Washington, D.C. on global trends affecting work.

April 21 will feature SpringGR's Attah Obande on "Entrepreneurship in the Changing Economy" and Dr. Bill Pink, president of Grand Rapids Community College, will speak on "Working Together for Growth in West Michigan: Education and Industry" on April 28.

"The intent of our spring series with KDL has always been to provide timely and relevant content for the West Michigan community, free to all, as is the library's mission," said Kubik. "We're grateful that KDL partners were game to shift on-line with us to get this content out."

In May, the Council is planning a May 12 on-line presentation by U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of The Congo Bill Garvelink (ret.) on global pandemics and the future of virus research. On May 19, the date of the Council's traditional season-concluding and fun WorldQuest global trivia competition, the Council plans an on-line version open to all interested.

"It has indeed taxed our flexibility and critical thinking to program in the midst of this pandemic," said Van Denend, "but we've been energized by the challenge and encouraged that our partners and members continue to seek global engagement."

He concluded: "One of the lessons of COVID-19 is that we are, indeed, globally connected and need to pay even closer attention to what's happening all over the world."

For more information on "The Future of Work" series, visit its webpage here and stay tuned for more information on our scheduled May events.

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The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan empowers the people and organizations of West Michigan to engage thoughtfully with the world.

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Grand Rapids, MI 49506

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