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Great Decisions 2022

UMSL Global is proud to partner with the World Affairs Council of St. Louis to present the 2022 Great Decisions Speaker Series.

Great Decisions is an initiative of the Foreign Policy Association, and is America's largest discussion program on world affairs. The program model involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book and meeting in a Discussion Group to discuss the most critical global issues facing America today. Each year, discussion topics are chosen by a panel of experts.

The first "Great Decisions" group was launched in Portland, Oregon in 1954 by FPA's Vice President Roger Mastrude. Based on the so-called "Avon" model of face-to-face, active and informal conversation, participants would read a fact sheet on each of the eight topics before meetings, where they aired their respective views and opinions. FPA would tally up opinion ballots and report the results to the Department of State. The program gained media attention, was picked up by local schools, and soon gained national attention.

The grassroots, face-to-face model adopted by Great Decisions more than 50 years ago continues today, with tens of thousands of participants taking part in discussions nationwide annually. Anyone can start or join a group and register it online with the Foreign Policy Association.

Locally, UMSL Global and the World Affairs Council of St. Louis have hosted a discussion group for a number of years, and enhanced the experience by inviting speakers who are experts in the topics being discussed to share their views with attendees - hence, the name "Great Decisions Speaker Series."

The 2022 Great Decisions Speaker Series lineup is as follows:

Thursday, February 17. 2022, 12 p.m. central

Drug policy in Latin America: Have harsh drug control policies caused more harm than good?
Tom Hare, Ph.D.
Senior Researcher, Pulte Institute for Global Development, University of Notre Dame

The issue of migration to the United States from Latin America has overshadowed the war on drugs, which has been underway for decades with few signs of progress. What are the roots and the bureaucratic logic behind today's dominant drug policies in Latin America? Is it time to reconsider punitive drug policies that disrupt supply chains and punish drug possession?

Thursday, March 3, 2022, 12 p.m. central

Russia and the U.S.: How Will U.S. foreign policy engage Russia during the Biden administration?
Ellen P. Carnaghan, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science, Saint Louis University

Russia and the United States have many areas of conflict and some possible areas of mutual interest. Arms control, Russian interference in U.S. elections and support of cyberattacks, the status of Ukraine, and the fate of opposition politcians in Russia all continue to be concerning. How will the new administration in Washington approach these issues?

Thursday, March 17, 2022, 4 p.m. central

Changing Demographics: How will changing demographics impact a variety of topics ranging from development to sustainability?
J.S. Onésimo (Ness) Sándoval, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology
Co-Director of the Ph.D. Program in Public and Social Policy at Saint Louis University

The world experienced remarkable demographic changes in the 20th century that continue today and have resulted in far-reaching social, economic, political, and environmental consequences all over the globe. These consequences are creating mounting challenges to development efforts, security, the environment, as well as the sustainability of human populations.

Past Great Decisions Speaker Series events can be viewed on the UMSL Global YouTube page.