Great Decisions lecture to focus on Indonesia


Friday’s Great Decisions lecture will explore the global importance of Indonesia with a discussion titled “Removing the Cloak of Invisibility: What the U.S. has to learn from Indonesia” from Vanessa Hildebrand, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology-anthropology, co-director of the Public Health Program and the Palmer Global Scholars program at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Despite its large size as the fourth most populous country in the world (ffter India, China and the U.S.), Indonesia remains virtually invisible to most Americans. But as one of the world’s largest democracies, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, and as an economic driver of the ASEAN regional trade bloc, why does it fly below the radar? What are current issues in U.S.-Indonesian relations, and what role can the country play in Asia? Moreover, Indonesia is a recognized global leader in global health policy and reproductive health. Hildebrand will expand on these topics to also consider what the U.S. may learn from Indonesia’s experience along with discussion of the upcoming Indonesian presidential transition and what it may mean for the U.S., the Asia-Pacific, and the world.

Hildebrand is a cultural and medical anthropologist who investigates the complexities involved in providing medical care for vulnerable populations, especially for women and infants. For over 20 years, she has conducted research mostly in Indonesia, exploring global health policy and local health care practices with a focus on the interactions between women, midwives trained by global health programs called “Skilled Birth Attendants,” and the shaman midwives whose practice is informed by highly localized understandings of the reproductive process.

In the last few years, Hildebrand has added her expertise to addressing the high infant and maternal mortality rates in Ohio. She has received funding from the Fulbright Program, the National Science Foundation, the Wrenner-Gren Foundation, and many university grants. Hildebrand currently sits on several advisory boards in the United States that work to improve the care and health status of women and infants.

The lecture will take place from noon to 1 p.m. at the William Street United Methodist Church at 28 W. William St., Delaware. Those attending are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch. Coffee and tea will be provided.

The presentation will also be broadcast over Zoom at

For more information, visit

The Great Decisions program is a series of free, public lectures from central Ohio foreign policy experts who explore pressing international topics of the day. Sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association, Great Decisions provides a series of eight published essays around which our local presenters base their discussions each week. The presentations include audience question-and-answer periods to engage in thoughtful discussion.

Submitted by Erinn Nicley.

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