Great Decisions sessions return to Delaware Feb. 14


The 40th anniversary of Delaware’s Great Decisions sessions on U.S. foreign policy and international relations takes place this year. Beginning Friday, Feb. 14, members of the local community will join millions of Americans in educating themselves about our interdependent world and the role our country will play in determining its future.

The United States remains the dominant global power. But in a changing world, it is often said to be “searching for a strategy.” Why should this be the case?

One reason is a change in the relationships of power. Throughout the world, nation-states are developing and consolidating. A revisionist Russia, although less influential than the Soviet Union was, is reasserting itself in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

But the rise of China as a regional and a global power is most striking, given the ambitious economic, political and military goals adopted under President Xi Jinping. The local series includes a talk on “China’s Road into Latin America,” long a U.S. sphere of influence. “The Philippines and the United States” shows a pivot by Philippine President Duterte toward China, although the U.S. remains its most credible security partner against China’s maritime and territorial claims in Southeast and East Asia. China’s policies on “Artificial Intelligence and Data” are revealing.

A second reason is that democratic ideals the United States has long supported are challenged worldwide by the rise of populist, nationalist, often brutal autocrats. These include Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan, the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, and possibly in the future, India’s Narendra Modi. Georgetown University Professor and Ohio Wesleyan University alumnus Irfan Nooruddin is our authority on “India and Pakistan: Is Peace Impossible?”

The first speaker, Erinn Nicley, takes up the controversial issue of Mexican immigration. A high proportion of those traveling north today come from the “Northern Triangle” of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In the Middle East, we examine the security of the Red Sea, bordered by many states, the most influential being Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. OWU political scientist Sean Kay is currently deep into research on “Climate Change and the Global Order.” “Labor Trafficking: Global Problem/Local Impact” will be discussed by two local Ohio actors and experts: Carol O’Brien, deputy attorney general for Ohio, and Christy Utley, major of operations for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Topics of discussion and the distinguished individuals scheduled to speak during the eight-session series include:

• Feb. 14: “U.S. relations with the northern triangle: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras,” featuring Erinn Nicley, Ph.D., course faculty, Political Science Department at Western Governors University

• Feb. 21: “Artificial intelligence and data,” featuring David Staley, associate professor of history; Director, Humanities Institute; Director, Center for the Humanities in Practice, The Ohio State University

• Feb. 28: “Red Sea security,” featuring Blake Michael, Swan-Collins-Allen professor of religion, Ohio Wesleyan University

• March 6: “Labor trafficking: Global problem/local impact,” featuring Carol O’Brien, deputy attorney general for law enforcement/chief counsel; and Christy Utley, major of operations for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office

• March 13: “Climate change and the global order,” featuring Sean Kay, chair of the International Studies Program and professor of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University; Mershon associate, The Ohio State University

• March 20: “India and Pakistan: Is peace impossible?,” featuring Irfan Nooruddin, professor, Walsh School of Foreign Service; and director, India Initiative, Georgetown University; Director of South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council of the United States

• March 27: “China’s road into Latin America,” featuring Ji Young Choi, associate professor of politics and government; and director of East Asian Studies at Ohio Wesleyan University

• April 3: “The Philippines and the United States,” featuring James Franklin, professor and chair of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University

The community is invited to join these Great Decisions discussions, which are held at noon in the Fellowship Hall of the William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William St., Delaware. Attendees are welcome to bring a brown-bag lunch. Complimentary coffee and tea are provided.

Following each discussion, participants will have the opportunity to complete a survey, prepared by the Foreign Policy Association, to add their opinions to thousands of others across the nation. National survey results will be sent to executive and legislative policymakers in Washington, D.C., so that federal decision-makers will hear our voices as a community of informed citizens.

About Great Decisions

The Great Decisions Discussion Program, a free community discussion series, is designed to encourage debate and discussion of the role of the United States in world affairs.

The program provides materials that help people reach informed opinions on issues and encourages them to participate in the foreign-policy process.

Developed by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) in 1954, the Great Decisions Discussion Program is the longest-standing and largest grassroots world affairs educational program of its kind. It is the core of FPA’s civic education outreach efforts, bringing millions of Americans together in communities across the country to discover, discuss, and decide their opinions on foreign policy issues

Learn more at

Submitted story

Submitted by Corinne Lyman, professor emerita of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University.

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