Great Decisions

Established by the Foreign Policy Association, Great Decisions is the country’s largest discussion program on world affairs. The program provides background information and policy options for 8 of the most critical issues facing the U.S. each year and serves as the focal text for discussion groups across the country. The program model involves reading a chapter in the Great Decisions Briefing Book, and then attending a weekly discussion group. Each weekly session addresses one of the 8 topics, with a speaker presenting on the topic, and then fielding your questions, your comments, and your ideas.

The Foreign Policy Association’s aims to serve as a catalyst for developing awareness, understanding, and informed opinion on U.S. foreign policy and global issues. Through its balanced, nonpartisan programs and publications, the FPA encourages citizens to participate in the foreign policy process.

CIR’s Great Decisions livestream program begins on February 9, 2021. Each session is 75 minutes in length, starting at 10am MST.

As we’ll be all digital for Great Decisions this year, we’ll follow this format:

  • In advance of the session, all participants will read the relevant chapter in the GD Briefing Book.
  • Optional: Foreign Policy Association has produced a video of approximately 30 minutes that may be viewed prior to each session of Great Decisions. This year the videos are being offered on VIMEO and the Foreign Policy Association is asking viewers to pay $3.99 per video to support production costs for the films. For access to the VIMEO videos, click here.
  • A Zoom link for each livestream discussion session will be sent to all participants before each meeting; the link will change for each session.
  • Sessions begin at 10am with a presenter reviewing the Briefing Book and video content, alongside their own reflections. Each presenter will engage in dialogue with Sandy, who will be the GD series host.
  • Following this, we turn to audience comments and questions. We’ll run the first session via the Zoom Meeting function, meaning that all participants will have the opportunity to speak. We may shift to the Zoom webinar function if people prefer, following the first meeting.

Condensed schedule

Please note that speakers and dates are tentative and may change.

  • February 9 @ 10am: The fight over the melting Arctic (Speaker: Rich Moriarty and Ray Arnaudo, President of the American Polar Society)
  • February 16 @ 10am: The end of globalization? (Speaker: Amb. Vicki Huddleston)
  • February 23 @ 10am: China’s Role in Africa (Speaker: Amb. Mark Asquino)
  • March 2 @ 10am: The role of international organizations in a global pandemic (Speaker: Jim Falk)
  • March 9 @ 10am: Brexit and the European Union (Speaker: Rich Moriarty)
  • March 16 @ 10am: Persian Gulf Security (Speaker: Todd Greentree)
  • March 23 @ 10am: Global supply chains and national security (Speaker: Todd Greentree)
  • March 30 @ 10am: Korean Peninsula (Speaker: Todd Greentree)

2021 Registration cost:

  • $85 for CIR members. This includes all eight sessions and the 2021 Great Decisions Briefing Book (a $30 value). For non-CIR members, the price is $100.
  • $55 for any 4 lectures (including booklet). For nonmembers, it’s $65.
  • $30 for any 4 lectures without booklet. For nonmembers, it’s $35.
  • $8 for any single lecture. For nonmembers, it’s $10.

If you are signing up for less than the entire program of eight sessions and would still like to purchase a booklet, the cost for the booklet is $30.

Recordings of Great Decisions Sessions – 2020 & 2021

GREAT DECISIONS 2021 recordings

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
The Korean Peninsula

Speaker: Todd Greentree

The Korean Peninsula is facing a defining era. Attempts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump to repair the rift between North and South have lost any momentum as Pyongyang continues to test long-range missiles for its nuclear weapons program. As the rift between the U.S. and China grows further, South Korea may end up in the middle of the two superpowers. What does the future hold for the U.S. relationship with the ROK?

Watch the talk here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Global supply chains and national security

Speaker: Todd Greentree

The shutdown of global supply chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic brought to the fore an issue with the high level of global economic interdependence: what happens when one country is the main source for an item, say face masks, and then can no longer supply the item? Countries suddenly unable to meet the demand for certain supplies are faced with growing calls for economic nationalism. What are some of the lasting effects that the pandemic could have on global supply chains and trade? How would this affect national security?

Watch the talk here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Persian Gulf security issues
Speaker: Todd Greentree

The Persian Gulf remains tense as the rivalry between the regional powers of Saudi Arabia and Iran continues. Tensions escalated in early 2020 as the United States began to intervene in the Gulf, launching an airstrike that killed two Iranian military commanders. What are the historical influences that have led to these tensions? What role, if any, should the United States play? Is using military force a viable foreign policy option for 2021 and beyond?

Watch the talk here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Brexit and the European Union

Speaker: Rich Moriarty

In January 2021, the “Brexit transition period” ended and the United Kingdom formally left the European Union. What does the future hold for interactions between the countries that make up the United Kingdom and the European Union? Will Northern Ireland remain within the United Kingdom? Will Scotland? Who will step up and take command of Europe now that Angela Merkel is leaving the spotlight? 

Watch the talk here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Roles of international organizations in a global pandemic

Speaker: Jim Falk

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrust the World Health Organization (WHO) into the limelight, for better and for worse. While some of the Trump administration’s criticism of the organization is unfair, the response to the early stages of the pandemic left many experts wanting more from the WHO. What is the WHO’s role in responding to international pandemics? What can be done to improve the WHO’s response to future global health crises?

Watch the talk here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
China’s role in Africa
Speaker: Ambassador Mark Asquino

The Covid-19 crisis has put a massive strain on what was growing a positive economic and political relationship between China and the continent of Africa. As Chinese President Xi Jinping’s centerpiece “Belt and Road initiative” continues to expand Chinese power, the response to the spread of Covid-19, as well as the African government’s growing debt to China, has seen pushback. What are some of the growing economic and political issues between China and Africa?

Watch the talk here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021
The End of Globalization?

Speakers: Ambassador Vicki Huddleston and Todd Greentree

As the United States enters another election season, the merits and drawbacks of globalization are again being debated by the presidential candidates. With the passing of the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s America First doctrine, protectionist policies have become more prevalent, challenging globalization. What is globalization and how will it be affected by protectionist trade policies? How will the United States and the world be affected by such policies? Is globalization really at an end, or in need of a refresh?

Watch the talk here.

February 9, 2021
The Fight over the Melting Arctic
Speakers: Rich Moriarty and Ray Arnaudo, President of the American Polar Society

U.S. President Donald Trump left many scratching their heads when it was rumored that he was looking to purchase the large island nation of Greenland from Denmark. While any potential deal seems highly unlikely, the event shows the changing opinion within the U.S. government toward engagement with the Arctic region. Because of climate change, large sheets of arctic ice are melting, exposing vast stores of natural gas and oil. With Russia and China already miles ahead with their Arctic strategies, can the U.S. catch up?

Watch the talk here.

GREAT DECISIONS 2020 recordings

January 28, 2020
India and Pakistan
Speaker: Todd Greentree

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode a wave of Hindu nationalism to a historic reelection in 2019. His first order of business was to revoke the special status granted to the Kashmir region, inflaming the rivalry between India and Pakistan. How will the Kashmir situation affect the region, both economically and politically?

This was an in-person event. Unfortunately, a recording is unavailable.

February 18, 2020
Climate Change and the Global Order
Speaker: Steven Rudnick

Climate change has become one of the defining issues of our time. As much of the world bands together to come up with a plan, the U.S. remains the notable holdout. What is the rest of the world doing to combat climate change? What impact will the effects of climate change have on global geopolitics?

This was an in-person event. Unfortunately, a recording is unavailable.

April 7, 2020
China’s Road into Latin America
Speaker: Todd Greentree

As the Trump administration continues to withdraw from the world stage, China is looking to fill the void. How does Latin America fit into China’s “One Belt, One Road” plan? How will the relationship with China affect the region? Should the U.S. be concerned about China’s growing “sphere of influence?”

Watch the talk here.

April 14, 2020
U.S. Relations with the Northern Triangle
Speaker: Todd Greentree

Combatting illegal immigration has become a priority of the Trump administration. The Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, is a special target of the administration, which hold the nations responsible for the large flow of migrants from Latin America to the U.S. With funds from the U.S. cut, how can the Northern Triangle countries curtail migration?

Watch the talk here.

April 21, 2020
Red Sea Security
Speaker: Todd Greentree

The Red Sea has remained vital for global trade since the time of ancient Egypt. Once home to the spice trade, the Red Sea now sees millions of barrels of oil a day transported across its waters. With major nations like China, France, Italy, and the U.S. building large ports and bases in the region, what does the future of the region look like? How important is Red Sea security for global security? Can the region be a place of global cooperation?

Watch the talk here.

April 28, 2020
Artificial Intelligence and Data
Speaker: Todd Greentree

Policymakers in many countries are developing plans and funding research in artificial intelligence (AI). Global growth is slowing, and not surprisingly, many policymakers hope that AI will provide a magic solution. The EU, Brazil, and other Western countries have adopted regulations that grant users greater control over their data and require that firms using AI be transparent about how they use it. Will the U.S. follow suit?

Watch the talk here.

May 5, 2020
Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
Speaker: Lynn Sanchez, The Life Link

Almost every nation has enacted laws criminalizing human trafficking, and international organizations, governments, and NGOs sponsor a large variety of projects to curb trafficking and slavery. Billions of dollars have been allocated to these efforts. What is the international community doing to combat slavery and trafficking? What are the experiences like for those being trafficked?

Watch the talk here.

May 12, 2020
The Philippines and the U.S. 
Speaker: Amb. Harry Thomas (US ambassador to the Philippines 2010-2013)

The Philippines has had a special relationship with the United States since the islands were ceded by Spain to the United States after the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century.  However, since the election of Rodrigo Duterte, the country has pivoted more toward China, and away from the U.S. Duterte has also launched a large-scale war on drugs that many criticize for its brutality. What does the future hold for U.S, relations with the Philippines?

Watch the talk here.