Great Decisions

Registration is closed for 2021’s Great Decisions

We are again sponsoring the popular Foreign Policy Association series Great Decisions in February and March of 2021. This will mark the 38th year of our local League bringing this informative program and outstanding speakers to our area.

Due to the Covid19 Pandemic and in accord with the recent survey responses from League members and past participants, we will be providing these lectures virtually via Zoom. Those registering will receive a link to the lectures closer to the date.

The eight lectures will be presented each Tuesday morning from February 2 to March 23, 2021 on Zoom from 10:30 AM to 11:45 AM.

The Foreign Policy Association, the national sponsor of Great Decisions, chose these 8 foreign policy topics for 2021 (see more details about the guest speakers by scrolling down the page): 

  • The role of international organizations in a Global Pandemic
  • Global supply chains and national security
  • China and Africa 
  • Korean Peninsula 
  • Persian Gulf Security 
  • Brexit and the European Union 
  • The fight over the melting Arctic
  • The End of Globalization?  

Questions? Please contact Jim at or by calling 757-561-3318


Great Decisions 2021: Schedule of Topics and Speakers

Feb. 2–Brexit and the European Union.  Speaker: Dr. Jeffery A. Stacey. Stacey is a national security consultant, a former State Department official in the Obama administration, the author of the book, “Integrating Europe”, and a frequent commentator of international affairs.

Feb. 9–China’s Role in Africa.  Speaker: Ambassador David Shinn.  Shinn, a State Department Foreign Service Officer for 37 years with significant service in Africa, is currently an adjunct professor at George Washington University in the Elliott School of International Affairs.  He is just completing a co-authored book on China and Africa.

Feb. 16–The Role of International Organizations in a Global Pandemic.  Speaker: Professor Iyabo Obasanjo.  Educated in Nigeria and the US, Obasanjo served as the Commissioner for Health in Ogun State of Nigeria in 2003 and was elected to the Nigerian Senate in 2007, where she was the Chair of the Health Committee.  Returning to the US in 2011, she explored the issues of governance, leadership, and public health as an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University and held several academic appointments before coming to William and Mary.

Feb. 23–Persian Gulf Security Issues.  Speaker: Dr. Trita Parsi.  Executive Vice-President of the Quincy Institute, Parsi is an award-winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He has authored three books on US foreign policy in the Middle East, with a particular focus on Iran and Israel.

Mar. 2–Struggles Over the Melting Arctic.  Speaker: Col. Larry Wilkerson.  The Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy, the College of William & Mary, Wilkerson, a frequent speaker at Great Decisions, served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff.  His six-year membership in the Climate and Security Working Group (CSWG) gives him special insight on this topic.

Mar. 9–Global Supply Chains and National Security.  Speaker:  Mr. Frank Samolis.  Partner and co-chair of the International Trade Practice for Squires, Patton, Boggs, Samolis has represented foreign sovereigns or foreign multinationals from Asia, Europe, Central and Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, in addition to US companies seeking expanded market access in major export markets.  He spoke in the 2019 Great Decisions program.

Mar. 16–The Korean Peninsula.  Speaker: Ms. Jessica J. Lee.  Senior Research Fellow in the East Asia Program at the Quincy Institute, Lee focuses her research on U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on alliances and North Korea.   She previously led the Council of Korean Americans, a national leadership organization for Americans of Korean descent.

Mar. 23– The End of Globalization.  Speaker: Professor Michael N. Barnett. University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, Barnett’s research interests span the Middle East, humanitarianism, global governance, global ethics, and the United Nations. Among his many books are Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda; Dialogues in Arab Politics: Negotiations in Regional Order; Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism; and Rules for the World: International Organizations in World Politics (with Martha Finnemore).

Check out the full list of topics from past Great Decisions, 2020 and 2019.

James City County recorded four of 2020’s Great Decisions lectures, and you can watch them from their Youtube channel.

Great Decisions: Artificial Intelligence and Data

Great Decisions: US Relations with the Northern Triangle

Great Decisions: India and Pakistan

Great Decisions: Climate Change and Global Order