Skip to Content

Great Decisions Lecture Series

Great Decisions Lecture Series
Great Decisions is the longest-running and largest grassroots world affairs educational program of its kind.

Each year, the Great Decisions program brings citizens together for lectures and small-group discussion to share ideas and opinions on the issues affecting our global future. 

The way it works: The Foreign Policy Association picks eight themes related to major issues in the arena of US foreign policy and international affairs. They publish the Great Decisions book with chapters by experts in the field to be used as a springboard for group conversation with Great Decisions Discussion Groups. Discussion Groups, like a book club, are self organizing and can meet anywhere you are (in classrooms, community centers, libraries, senior centers, and workplaces) to engage in spirited discussion of world affairs. 

Every winter, the Council presents the eight-week Great Decisions Lecture Series in partnership with Portland State University’s International Colloquium that features a wealth of perspective and opinion from diplomats, policy experts, academics, and foreign service professionals addressing the topics in the Great Decisions book. This program is free and open to the community at large.

2014 Great Decisions Lecture Series

The 2014 topics are: Defense technology, Israel and the U.S., Turkey's challenges, Islamic awakening, energy independence, food and climate, China's foreign policy, and U.S. trade policy.

Peter W. Singer: Defense Technology, January 17
The first lecture in the 2014 Great Decisions series, Peter W. Singer looks at how new “game-changing” technologies, from robotic planes to cyberweapons to 3D printing and human enhancement, are moving from science fiction to battlefield reality – all during an age of fiscal austerity. More information.

Doug Badger: U.S. Trade Policy, January 24
Doug Badger, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest International Trade Association, discusses how America’s foreign policy tools are not limited to sanctions, treaties or military campaigns, but also include the sales pitch to promote the benefits of democracy and the free market. More information.

Ozan Varol: Turkey's Challenges, January 31
Professor of Law Ozan Varol talks about how, with clashes between secular and religious groups and the recent protests in Taksim Square, Turkey is a nation at a crossroads. More information.

Allison Hensey: Food and Climate, February 14
Allison Hensey, Program Director, Healthy Food and Farms at Oregon Environmental Council discusses the new challenges that the U.S. faces as food and water become scarce and one fertile land turns barren. More information.

Dr. Thomas Bartlett: Islamic Awakening, February 21
Thomas Bartlett discuss how the aftermath of the Arab Spring has resulted in unforeseen changes in the political landscape in many countries, especially regarding the role of Islam and democracy. More information.

Dr. Barbara Tint: Israel and the U.S., February 28
Dr. Barbara Tint, Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution at Portland State University looks at how, after years of unparalleled support, new strains are testing U.S.-Israel relations. More information.

Ron Tammen: China's Foreign Policy, March 7
Ron Tammen, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, looks at what the rapid rise of China as a new superpower means for other countries in the region and if there are potential points of conflict with the U.S. as it “pivots” to Asia? More information.

John Kauffmann: Energy Independence, March 28
John Kauffmann, a fellow at the Post-Carbon Institute, discusses whether, in a government with fixed resources, should the U.S. encourage more traditional fuel production or invest in the young technology of renewable resources. More information.

The 2014 Great Decisions Lecture Series takes place Fridays, January 17 - March 7, 12 p.m. at Portland State University, 1025 SW Mill Street Science Building 1, Room 107. Free and open to the public, no registration required. 

Recent Great Decisions News

Great Decisions
Wed, 02/13/2013 - 10:30am

2013 Great Decisions series videos now online

Videos of the 2013 Great Decisions lecture series at PSU- now in progress- are available online. Read More ››

Upcoming Great Decisions Events

There are not currently any upcoming events for this program.