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Hits and Messes: World Affairs Council presents Great Decisions lecture series

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NPR foreign correspondant Mike Shuster

NPR foreign correspondant Mike Shuster

The Great Decisions foreign policy lecture series at Aquinas College features speakers from multiple disciplines speaking on topics from the cutting edge in the fast-changing realm of world affairs. The series, presented annually, is organized by the World Affairs Council of West Michigan in association with Michigan Public Radio and Grand Rapids Community College. Truly a multi-institutional affair, Aquinas College, Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) are each holding foreign affairs classes that correspond with the series while GRCC is co-sponsoring the series and has a class attending.

The first lecture, entitled "Winning Without War: Do Sanctions Work," was presented last Monday evening by NPR foreign correspondent-at-large Mike Shuster. Shuster spoke about the power and appropriateness of sanctions, detailing several examples of how they have been used by the United States. Shuster explained what sanctions are, what they affect, and what could happen when they turn out well and when they do not.  The evening concluded with a vigorous question and answer period that garnered much audience participation. Watch the entire lecture in the video above.

The World Affairs Council has organized a wide range of lectures in the coming weeks, and will continue through the end of March.

 A selection of upcoming lectures:

  • February 14: "Needed: A New World Order”  with Dr. Stewart Patrick
    The architecture of global governance - largely reflecting the world as it existed in 1945 - hasn't kept pace with changes in the system.  These changes include accelerating global economic integration; a shift in global power to non-Western countries; the rise of transnational security threats; the emergence of non-state actors, just to name a few.  Current multilateral arrangements are inadequate, to say the least.  What are the critical weaknesses?  What reforms are proposed?  What are the most pressing threats, as well as opportunities, for the U.S.? 
  • March 21, “Pirates on the High Seas”  with Captain Gordan VanHook USN (ret)
    Remember the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama? Captain Van Hook led the Maersk crisis team during that incident.  Before retiring from the Navy, he led the Naval Squadron in the Gulf of Aden off the failed state of Somalia, currently the global hotspot for piracy.  Captain Van Hook discusses maritime security from his unique vantage point as a maritime industry executive and former naval officer.  Is there a link between pirates and international terrorists such as Al Qaida?  If local states don’t take action against pirates, should a multilateral coalition step in?  Is “seabasing” one way to attack the problem?
  • March 28, “Coming Out of Russia’s Shadow: The Caucasus Countries” with Dr. Sue Davis from Denison University
    The countries and regions of the Caucasus all have strong national identities but have long lived in the shadow of their larger neighbors: Russia, Iran and Turkey. How does this influence the Caucasus of today? How do the region's energy resources play into its relations with the outside world?

For a complete schedule of events in the Great Decisions Lecture Series, visit the World Affairs Council of West Michigan website.

All lectures begin at 6:00 PM and are held at the Performing Arts Center at Aquinas College (1607 Robinson Road, SE Grand Rapids). Admission is $5 for World Affairs Council members and students, and $10 for non-members.

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