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 5 – February 23, 2017, 7:30 – 9:00 PM

Cost: $40 (individual rate includes briefing book) or $50 (companion rate if sharing briefing book.) You can register and pay using two options:



2. Click here for a printable 2017 Great Decisions Lecture Series Registration Form. Mail this with a check payable to GCIV.

Topics and Speaker Schedule

January 5

The Gulf Cooperation/Saudi Arabia
Speaker: Dr. Michael Herb, Professor of Political Science, Georgia State University

As Saudi Arabia struggles to adjust to the drastic decline in oil revenue, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman attempts to boldly transform the country and shift more power to the younger generation. At the same time, many countries such as the U.S. point out the lack of democracy, women’s rights and human rights in Saudi Arabia, and blame its promotion of Wahhabism, an extremely conservative version of Islam, for creating jihadists. Bipartisan criticism of Saudi Arabia is rising in Congress. Both countries need each other, but they are at a crossroads in bilateral relations.

January 12

China and its Military Policy
Speaker: Dr. John W. Garver, Professor Emeritus, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology

The South China Sea is a locus of competing territorial claims, and China its most vocal claimant. Beijing’s interest has intensified disputes with other countries in the region in recent years, especially since China has increased its naval presence. Despite rising international pressure, including an unfavorable ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, China staunchly defends its policies in the region. Preventing tensions from boiling over is a matter of careful diplomacy.

January 19

Afghanistan/Pakistan Update
Speaker: Dr. Marion Creekmore, Distinguished Visitor Professor of History and Political Science, Emory University

Major internal conflict has plagued Afghanistan for four decades. The U.S., for its part, has conducted military operations in the country nearly continuously since 9/11. Today, war with the Taliban persists, and tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan have gradually deteriorated. As his time in office drew to a close, President Obama limited further withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The incoming administration has a choice: will it maintain the status quo, completely reverse the Obama administration drawdown or withdraw completely? Does the U.S. face a no win situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

January 26

Latin America’s Falling Economies
Speaker: Dr. Thomas D. Rogers, Associate Professor of Modern Latin American History, Emory University

The pendulum of Latin American politics is swinging rightward once again. Yet as the “pink tide” recedes, the forces of change have more to do with socioeconomics than ideology. Dramatic economic and political crises have coincided in countries like Brazil and Venezuela. Still, the final result for Latin America may be the emergence of centrist, pragmatic modes of governance, and with them, opportunities for the U.S. to improve relations. The new administration must look beyond the neoliberal model of the 1990s, and develop an approach to relations fit for the 21st century.

February 2

The European Union
Speaker: Dr. Eleanor G. Morris, Associate Professor of Political Science, Program Director of International Relations, Agnes Scott College
The outcome of the United Kingdom referendum on EU membership sent shockwaves across the globe. It even caught British voters by surprise. The European Union has helped secure peace in Europe for the past 70 years. Now it faces an uncertain future. Amid a refugee crisis, lingering financial recession and the constant specter of terrorism, unity seems more imperative than ever. But the Brexit vote underscores the complexities of integrating an extremely diverse continent. What will post-Brexit Europe look like, and how can U.S. foreign policy adapt?

February 9

The Geopolitics of Energy
Speaker: Dr. Marilyn Brown, Professor, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology
What is the effect of U.S. petroleum security on foreign policy? For 45 years, the country has alternated between periods of energy security and insecurity, sometimes able to wield petroleum as a useful instrument of foreign policy, sometimes not. Despite the so-called “energy revolution,” the U.S. today is by no means disentangled from foreign dependence and global trends. In order to be successful, policymakers must recognize both petroleum security circumstances and patterns in the relationship between petroleum and foreign policy.

February 16

U.S. Trade Policy
Speaker: Dr. Sheila Tschinkel, Distinguished Visiting Economics Professor, Emory University

The U.S. political mood toward trade has gone sour. One need look no further than the 2016 presidential contest for the popular narrative: trade means that China wins, at America’s expense. But do the numbers support that conclusion? The metrics used to gauge economic strength—Gross Domestic Product and balance of trade—have not kept up with the realities of modern manufacturing. Obtaining an accurate picture of U.S. economic stature requires a critique of those numbers. Only then can the U.S. develop appropriate policy solutions for the challenges at hand.

February 23

Nuclear Security Today
Speaker: Dr. Robert Kennedy, Professor Emeritus, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology

Nuclear nonproliferation was a top priority for the Obama administration. While the Iran Deal was a diplomatic victory toward this end, major threats persist from both state and non-state actors. Countries like North Korea, Russia, and India and Pakistan continue to challenge nonproliferation efforts. The possibility that terrorists will carry out an attack using a “dirty bomb,” made from captured nuclear materials, looks increasingly real. In a fractious world, which way forward for U.S. nuclear security policy?


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 $50 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.

Why am I receiving emails from GCIV?
GCIV is the state-coordinator for Great Decisions including the Dunwoody Lecture Series. If you pay with PayPal, you are automatically subscribed to GCIV’s e-mailing list. If you do not wish to receive future emails from GCIV, simply click unsubscribe.

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