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The Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series, presented annually by YWCA Bethlehem, will host its 2020-2021 season via ZOOM each Wednesday beginning February 3, 2021 through March 24, 2021, 11:00 am. The spring Zoom lectures are based on the Foreign Policy Association’s 2021 manual with essays by experts in the fields of international relations and foreign policy.
Cost for the eight spring Zoom sessions, including the essay manual, has been reduced to $55 until December 1, 2020 and $65 after December 2nd this year to keep the program running during the pandemic. Any proceeds from this acclaimed lecture series, presented by YWCA Bethlehem, benefits YWCA’s programming for women and girls. The February 3 – March 24 lecture series will use ZOOM this year to avoid close contact of participants. The program previously was held in the Kirkland Village auditorium.
The Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series educates you about vitally important issues relating to American foreign policy. Our partner is the private, non-partisan Foreign Policy Association (FPA) in New York City, the oldest and largest grassroots, educational program on world affairs reaching 880 cities and 350,000 members.
The 2021 Great Decisions essay topics are:
Feb. 3, 2021 – Roles of international organizations in a global pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrust the World Health Organization (WHO) into the limelight, for better and for worse. While some of the Trump administration’s criticism of the organization is unfair, the response to the early stages of the pandemic left many experts wanting more from the WHO. What is the WHO’s role in responding to international pandemics? What can be done to improve the WHO’s response to future global health crises?
Feb. 10, 2021 – Struggles over the melting Arctic
U.S. President Donald Trump left many scratching their heads when it was rumored that he was looking to purchase the large island nation of Greenland from Denmark. While any potential deal seems highly unlikely, the event shows the changing opinion within the U.S. government toward engagement with the Arctic region. Because of climate change, large sheets of arctic ice are melting, exposing vast stores of natural gas and oil. With Russia and China already miles ahead with their Arctic strategies, can the U.S. catch up?
Feb. 17, 2021 – China’s role in Africa
The Covid-19 crisis has put a massive strain on what was growing a positive economic and political relationship between China and the continent of Africa. As Chinese President Xi Jinping’s centerpiece “Belt and Road initiative” continues to expand Chinese power, the response to the spread of Covid-19, as well as the African government’s growing debt to China, has seen pushback. What are some of the growing economic and political issues between China and Africa?
Feb. 24, 2021 – The Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is facing a defining era. Attempts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump to repair the rift between North and South have lost any momentum as Pyongyang continues to test long-range missiles for its nuclear weapons program. As the rift between the U.S. and China grows further, South Korea may end up in the middle of the two superpowers. What does the future hold for the U.S. relationship with the ROK?
March 3, 2021 – Persian Gulf security issues
The Persian Gulf remains tense as the rivalry between the regional powers of Saudi Arabia and Iran continues. Tensions escalated in early 2020 as the United States began to intervene in the Gulf, launching an airstrike that killed two Iranian military commanders. What are the historical influences that have led to these tensions? What role, if any, should the United States play? Is using military force a viable foreign policy option for 2021 and beyond?
March 10, 2021 – Brexit and the European Union
With the “Brexit transition period” coming to an end this year, the United Kingdom will formally leave the European Union at the start of 2021. With negotiations between the two entities continuing to stall, what does the future of Europe and the UK look like? Will the UK survive a possible Scottish vote to leave? Who will step up and take command of Europe now that Angela Merkel is out of the spotlight?
March 17, 2021 – Global supply chains and national security
The shutdown of global supply chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic brought to the fore an issue with the high level of global economic interdependence: what happens when one country is the main source for an item, say face masks, and then can no longer supply the item? Countries suddenly unable to meet the demand for certain supplies are faced with growing calls for economic nationalism. What are some of the lasting effects that the pandemic could have on global supply chains and trade? How would this affect national security?
March 24, 2021 – The end of globalization?
As the United States enters another election season, the merits and drawbacks of globalization are again being debated by the presidential candidates. With the passing of the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s America First doctrine, protectionist policies have become more prevalent, challenging globalization. What is globalization and how will it be affected by protectionist trade policies? How will the United States and the world be affected by such policies? Is globalization really at an end, or in need of a refresh?
Did You Miss the Great Decisions Preview Lecture?
On October 14, YWCA Bethlehem and the Great Decisions Committee hosted a panel discussion about the response to and impact of COVID-19 in the Lehigh Valley. If you were unable to attend, Dr. Brian Mello recorded the session.
CLICK HERE to view “Covid 19-Impact on the Lehigh Valley” preview lecture. Use Passcode: L7DA#6!E to access the lecture.
Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series Committee
Karen Norvig Berry, Retired and Teresa Kara, RN, BSN, MA., Retired Assistant Professor, DeSales University
Dr. Brian E. Alnutt, Professor, Northampton Community College
William Berry, Retired
Dr. Tom Brandt, Retired
Bruce Denlinger, Retired
Beverly Eighmy, Retired Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State
Thomas Eighmy, Ph.D., Retired, Foreign Service Officer (USAID)
Brian Mello, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Muhlenberg College
Elaine Molnar, Retired Women’s Program Coordinator
James West, Ph.D., Professor, Moravian College