Great Decisions

Great Decisions is a nationwide, non-partisan program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association intended to broaden public involvement in foreign affairs. It was launched over 50 years ago, and today tens of thousands of participants take part in discussion groups each year. Our library is proud to be hosting our fifth year of participation in the Great Decisions Program.

Eight topics have been selected this year for discussion. The Foreign Policy Association provides a Great Decisions Briefing Book if participants choose to read articles in advance, and each program begins with a video presentation outlining the issues of the evening’s topic. After the short video, a facilitator provides insight and leads a discussion.

This free, in-person program will take place in Lake Travis Community Library meeting room. No registration is required.

2023 Topics

Energy Geopolitics
Thursday, June 1st at 7pm
Facilitated by Matthew Orr

How will changes in the energy industries impact relations between countries?

Access to oil and gas has long held an influence over the politics of individual nations and their relations with others. But as more countries move toward sustainable energy, and supply chain shortages affect the availability of oil and gas, how will this change the way in which the United States interacts with the outside world?

War Crimes
Thursday, June 15th at 7pm

Facilitated by Dr. Susanne Sternthal

What is a war crime? How does this definition apply to recent events in Ukraine?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in widespread charges of war crimes and calls for justice. But what exactly are war crimes? Opinions of what constitutes a war crime have evolved, as have ways to identify and punish the perpetrators. How will the war crimes committed in Ukraine be dealt with?

China and the U.S.
Thursday, June 29th at 7pm
Facilitated by Dr. Paul Edgar

How will the United States respond to China’s growing global presence?

For the past ten years, the United States and China have been locked in a competition for who has the greatest global influence. One major point of contention is the status of Taiwanese sovereignty, which has become even more relevant recently with the possibility that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may prompt China to take similar action regarding Taiwan. How will the United States engage a China which is increasingly seeking to expand its sphere of influence?

Economic Warfare
Thursday, July 13th at 7pm
Facilitated by Gabriel Noronha

What comprises economic warfare? How have these measures been used recently against Russia?

Waging economic warfare consists of a variety of measures from implementing sanctions to fomenting labor strikes. Such tools are utilized by states to hinder their enemies, and in the case of the United States have been used as far back as the early 19th century. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, economic warfare has been the main means for the west to challenge Russia. How effective will these sanctions be at convincing Russia to cease its war?

Politics in Latin America
Thursday, September 7th at 7pm
Facilitated by Daisy Ward

What does the emergence of various left-wing governments mean for countries in Latin America?

Electoral results in Latin America over the past four years have led many observers of the regional/political scene to discern a left-wing surge in the hemisphere, reminiscent of the so-called “Pink Tide” that swept the area some 20 years ago. But how much do these politicians actually have in common? What implication does their ascendancy have for the region?

Global Famine
Thursday, September 21st at 7pm
Facilitated by Rachel Wellhausen

What causes famine? How can it be prevented in the future?

Fears of global food shortages have followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted grain shipments from the major grain producer. But what about countries and regions that were suffering before this impending shortage? How is famine defined, and how is it different from simple food shortages? What if any remedies are there?

Iran at a Crossroads
Thursday, October 5th at 7pm
Facilitated by Gabriel Noronha

What is the future for relations between Iran and the U.S.?

By the fall of 2022, Iran was in a state of turmoil due to widespread protests against government-enforced wearing of the hijab, a failing economy, an ineffective new president, and the looming succession of the country’s leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Abroad, renewal of the Iran nuclear deal seemed doubtful and tensions remain high between Iran, Israel, and Arab states. Many Iranians have lost hope of a better future, and the country seems at a crossroads. How should the United States deal with it?

Climate Migration
Thursday, October 19th at 7pm
Facilitated by Ryan Bohl

How is climate change impacting human migration?

As climate change accelerates and drought and rising sea levels become more common, millions of people in affected regions must uproot themselves and seek safety elsewhere. Who are these affected individuals, and how might the United States aid them, and be affected by the migration?

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7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Great Decisions—Global Famine

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