Great Decisions is a national program developed by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) and offered by libraries, community groups, and civic organizations. Each year, eight new topics are chosen by a panel of experts. The FPA releases a booklet and video series to accompany each session and discussion groups meet to learn and discuss global issues facing America today.
The Great Decisions program focuses on current events that can be both political and controversial.
- Attendees will have differing opinions. You can disagree, but do so with empathy and respect.
- Share the discussion – both speak and listen. We value your contributions and want to make sure that there is space for everyone to talk.
- We respect the commonalities and differences of all people. Hurtful or explicit language will not be tolerated.
2021 Topics & Speakers
Descriptions provided by Foreign Policy Association
Global Supply Chains and National Security by Jonathan Chanis
Mar. 2, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom | Register to participate
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?
Persian Gulf Security Issues by Lawrence G. Potter
Apr. 6, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom | Register to participate
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?
Brexit and the European Union by Harris LaTeef
May 4, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom | Register to participate
With the “Brexit transition period” coming to an end this year, the United Kingdom will formally leave the European Union at the start of 2021. With negotiations between the two entities continuing to stall, what does the future of Europe and the UK look like? Will the UK survive a possible Scottish vote to leave? Who will step up and take command of Europe now that Angela Merkel is out of the spotlight?
Struggles Over the Melting Arctic by Stephanie Pezard
Jun. 1, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom | Register to participate
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?
China’s Role in Africa by Cobus van Staden
Jul. 6, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom | Register to participate
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?
The Korean Peninsula by Scott Snyder
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?
Roles of International Organizations in a Global Pandemic by Mara Pillinger
Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom | Register to participate
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?
The End of Globalization? by Anne O. Krueger
Oct. 5, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom | Register to participate
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?
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions about Great Decisions that are not addressed below, please call the Answer Center at 970-221-6740.
How do I prepare for each session?
There are lots of ways to participate in the Great Decisions program. We encourage all voices to join the conversation.
Choices for being involved in the program include any of the following:
- speaking about your own experiences and perspectives
- reading a chapter from the booklet
- watching the half-hour learning video
Do I need a Great Decisions booklet to participate?
While reading the current year’s Great Decisions booklet provides valuable background information and context about the current event being discussed, it is not a requirement.
Where do I get the Great Decisions booklet?
Print booklets are available for checkout at all library locations. An eBook is also available for free via Overdrive on the Poudre Libraries’ digital download page. Check the Library catalog for current availability of both print and digital booklets.
How can I learn more?
Additional resources are available on the Foreign Policy Association website.
What is the program schedule?
The Great Decisions group meets on the first Tuesday of the month from March to October. Each session is 1 ½ hours. The group meets via Zoom video or in-person, depending on local public health guidelines. Location information will be provided with registration.
Am I expected to attend all the sessions?
You are welcome to attend a single session or all sessions. Please register for each session you’ll be attending by clicking into the Library’s online events page.
How does Zoom programming work?
Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool that allows users to meet online with or without video. There is no cost to participants to use Zoom for library programs.
- Computer or smart device (tablet, phone, etc.) with webcam/microphone access
- Internet connection
- Email account
- Register for the Great Decisions session on the Library’s online events page.
- A Zoom program invite link will be sent to your email inbox.
- Click on the invite link at the program start time to connect to the program.
- Join the conversation either through your video/audio connection or type your comments into the chat feature.
Watch this short video for an overview of connecting to Zoom.
I didn’t receive my Zoom invite link. What do I do?
Call the library’s Answer Center at 970-221-6740 to have the Zoom link resent to your email.
What should I expect during the program?
A moderator will guide the group discussion through key questions based on the booklet chapter. All participants are encouraged to contribute their perspectives and comments. Participants can speak to the group directly through their video/audio setup or type comments/questions into the chat feature (Zoom programming only.) Participants have the choice to enable/disable their video and microphones at any point during the program.
Can I start the program mid-year?
The Great Decisions program can be joined at any point in the series. You can try one session, multiple sessions, or all sessions.
Why is there a ballot in the booklet?
Some Great Decisions groups complete the ballot at the end of the series and send the ballots to Washington D.C. The Poudre River Public Library District does not participate in the opinion ballot process.
Are the online programs recorded?
No, the online Great Decisions discussion is not recorded or posted.
Co-Speakers: Presenter Opportunity
Are you a citizen of another country, or have academic/work experience in global affairs or international relations?
To deepen and enrich the conversations that happen in Great Decisions, Poudre River Libraries is seeking volunteer co-speakers to bring their lived experiences or work/academic expertise to the conversation. For more information, please contact Poudre Library at 970-221-6740.
About Library Programs
Poudre River Libraries creates opportunities for people to belong, where they are able to learn and grow. We celebrate and reflect the diversity of our community. We are dedicated to free and equal access for all.
We value diversity, curiosity, and community at the Poudre River Public Library District and encourage our participants to embody these values as well. Violations of these standards may result in participants being asked to leave the program.