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Great Decisions Speaker Series

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For many years, UMSL Global and the World Affairs Council of St. Louis have teamed up to participate in the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions program, America’s largest discussion program on world affairs. In this program, experts with the Foreign Policy Association choose a number of discussion topics related to the most critical global issues facing America. We invite subject matter experts in those topics to share their insights and opinions with us, which, in turn, engages our community in conversations about foreign policy issues facing the United States and the world.

The 2024 Great Decisions Speaker Series begins February 8, 2024 and continues every other Thursday thereafter through May 16. The topics and speakers will be filled in below as details are finalized.



May 2, 2024 – 12 p.m., Online
Great Decisions Speaker Series – High Seas Treaty
Speaker: Hiroko Muraki-Gottlieb, Representative for the Ocean, International Council of Environmental Law

Topic Overview: 

Areas of the seas beyond national jurisdiction comprise the high seas, which are facing a degradation of ecosystems due to climate change and the increase in human activities, such as shipping, overfishing, pollution, and deep-sea mining. The recently negotiated High Seas Treaty, also known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty, will attempt to address these issues. How difficult will it be to convince nations to participate?

May 16, 2024 – 12 p.m., Online
Great Decisions Speaker Series – topic TBA

To view recordings of past Great Decisions Speaker Series events, please click the links below:

Feb. 8, 2024 – 12 p.m. - Click to view on YouTube.
NATO's Future: Brig. Gen. Chad Raduege (Ret.), USAF

Topic Overview:

Since the Russian invasian of Ukraine in February 2022, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has come under increased scrutiny, not because NATO troops are involved in the conflict, but because of its role in relations between Russia and its neighbors. Will expanding membership in NATO protect countries or will it further provoke Russia?

Feb. 22, 2024 – 12 p.m. - Click to view on YouTube.
US-China Trade Rivalry: Claire Chu, Principal China Analyst at Janes

Topic Overview:

China’s economic rise and its current policies of increasing the role of the state in the economy have led some U.S. policymakers to seek to deny China access to U.S. technology and investment. This is seen as a necessary corrective to decades of predatory Chinese economic policies. Is this a wise strategy, and how effective can it be?

Mar. 7, 2024 – 1 p.m. - Click to view on YouTube.
Mideast Realignment: Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Fellow for the Middle East at Rice Univerity's Baker Institute for Public Policy

Topic Overview: 

The United States and Middle East are at a crossroads. In spite of a reduced presence in the Middle East, the U.S. still has significant national interests there and the area is a key arena for global power politics. Can the U.S. continue to defend its interests in the Middle East and globally with a lower level of military and political involvement, or should it recommit to a leading role in the region?

Apr. 11, 2024 – 12 p.m. - Click to view on YouTube
Great Decisions Speaker Series – Science Across Borders
Speaker: Mark Munsell, Director, Data and Digital Innovation, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Topic Overview:

Scientific advances benefit from collaboration between researchers, but what happens when material, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is controversial and important to a nation's national security? Is there a middle ground between sharing information and denying access? How can we regulate cooperation?

Apr. 18, 2024 – 12 p.m. - Click to view on YouTube
Great Decisions Speaker Series – Understanding Indonesia
Speaker: Thomas Morris, International Development and Foreign Assistance Professional

Topic Overview:

Despite its large size, Indonesia remains virtually invisible to most Americans. But as one of the world's largest democracies, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, and as an economic driver of ASEAN, 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?

Previous years: