Great Decisions is our eight-week lecture and discussion series based on a briefing book published annually by the nonpartisan Foreign Policy Association.

The series encourages participants to develop an informed opinion on the role the United States should play in world affairs.


Where: Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 1548 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody, GA 30338. For driving directions:

When: Thursdays, January 15 – March 5, 2015, 7:30 – 9:00 PM

Cost: $35 (individual rate includes briefing book) or $45 (companion rate if sharing briefing book.) You can register and pay using two options:



2. Click here for a printable 2015 Great Decisions Lecture Series Registration Form. Mail this with a check payable to GCIV

Topics and Speakers:

January 15
India Changes Course
Dr. Salli Vargis, Professor History, Honors Program Coordinator, Georgia Perimeter College

Fed up with corruption, dynastic policies and ineffective public services, Indian voters catapulted Narenda Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party to power in the country’s 2014 elections. For voters, Modi embodied real change and an India that wasn’t stumbling, but running, to greatness. But for the U.S., change in India brings its own set of unknowns, heralding an age ruled by a prime minister new to national office and other policymakers who have been out of the public eye for a decade. Now, the U.S. has to determine how to best secure its interests as India asserts itself on the world stage.

January 22
U.S. Policy Toward Africa
Dr. Benn Bongang, Professor and Department Chair, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, Savannah State College

Africa is in the midst of an unprecedented transformation. The continent is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and it’s become a draw for foreign investors from across the globe. After the “Obamamania” of 2008 died down, though, the realization that Obama wasn’t going to overturn, or even prioritize, U.S. Africa policy kicked in. Still, the U.S. has promised to promote “strong institutions, not strong men,” and to favor good governance and healthy economies over profit. How can U.S. policy live up to its promise and values while securing its interests in the region?

January 29
Privacy in the Digital Age
Dr. Seymour Goodman, Professor of International Affairs and Computing, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology

The idea of “privacy” has undergone significant changes in the digital age, as has the idea of privacy “harm.” Fearful of British spying, influence and intervention, the founding fathers granted citizens significant protections in the Constitution. Now, the tables have turned: Concerns about what some see as a U.S. “dragnet” and unwarranted privacy intrusions have compelled other countries to revamp their own privacy protections. Legislation, both at home and abroad, hasn’t kept pace with technological developments, leaving some wondering if privacy as we know it is long dead.

February 5
Russia and the Near Abroad
Dr. Thomas Rotnem, Professor of Political Science and Department Chair, Southern Polytechnic State University

As calls for closer ties with the EU failed to be met, Ukrainians took to the streets in in November 2013. As the movement later known as the Euromaidan, or “Euro Square,” pulled western Ukraine closer to its European neighbors, another powerful force threatened to tear away the country’s eastern half: Russia. Putin’s pushback against European expansionism has the West wondering: If Putin’s Russia isn’t afraid to take an aggressive stance against Europeanization in Ukraine, what does that mean for the rest of Russia’s neighbors?

February 12
Syria’s Refugee Crisis
Mr. David Gazashvili, Senior Manager Logistics and Operations Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance, CARE

Syrians have for a century welcomed over a million refugees from Armenia, Palestine, Iraq and other countries around the region. Now, thanks to a multiyear civil war, they are on track to become the source of the world’s largest refugee population in a matter of months. As Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other neighbors strive to accommodate the millions of Syrians, the risk of allowing Syrians to become dependent on emergency aid and forming a “lost generation” remains. Ultimately, though, the safety of displaced Syrians rests with the whole international community.

February 19
Human Trafficking in the 21st Century
Ms. Maja Hasic, Anti-Human Trafficking Program Director, Tapestri, Inc.

Human trafficking represents a multibillion in international trade per annum and continues to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries. While undeniably a global phenomenon, the U.S., as one of the world’s leading human trafficking importers, bears a special responsibility to combat this practice. The U.S. and the international community have adopted various treaties and laws to prevent trafficking, but to truly understand and combat the issue, they must find the root causes enabling traffickers to exploit millions of victims.

March 5
Sectarianism in the Middle East
Ms. Houda Abadi, Associate Director (MENA), Conflict Resolution Program, The Carter Center

Many of the current conflicts in the Middle East have been attributed to sectarianism, a politicization of ethnic and religious identity. From the crisis in Iraq and Syria to the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the struggle between Sunni and Shi‘i groups for dominance is tearing apart the region and shows no signs of abating. But for all the religious discourse permeating the conflict, much of its roots are political, not religious. How does sectarianism fit into a larger narrative of the Middle East? How have governments manipulated sectarian differences? And finally, what is the U.S. doing about it?

March 12
Brazil’s Metamorphosis
Thomas D. Rogers, Associate Professor of History, Emory University

Brazil — it’s the “B” in the acronym BRICS, five emerging economies once seen as soon-to-be superpowers. After economic troubles in the 1990s, Brazil has risen to new global prominence — it’s drawing in more investment, working on global issues ranging from climate change to peacekeeping, and even hosting the 2016 Olympics. But some of Brazil’s trickiest problems — deep divisions over how to tackle serious income inequality, weak civic institutions and poor regional leadership — have held it back.


Can I attend just one lecture?
If you would like to attend one lecture, the cost is $10 and does not include the briefing book. Pay at the registration table before the start of the lecture.

How can I purchase a briefing book without registering for the lecture series?
To purchase a briefing book or start your own discussion group, please email

Can I bring a guest to the lecture series?
You can bring a guest using the $45 companion rate.

When will I receive my briefing book?
Briefing books are distributed the first day of the lecture series at registration. The first article will be sent via email to those who have registered.

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What does membership in GCIV entail?
GCIV membership offers exclusive opportunities to interact with distinguished international delegates at ‘members only’ receptions or over dinner hospitality, where members have visitors to their home for casual dinner and conversation. For more information on membership, visit