Great Decisions 2022

The Williamsburg Area League of Women Voters sponsored the 39th year of the popular Foreign Policy Association series Great Decisions in February and March of 2022, bringing this popular program to our area. We presented nine lectures each Tuesday morning from February 1 through March 29.

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, we used a hybrid model – providing lectures virtually via Zoom and when possible, in person.

The Foreign Policy Association, the national sponsor of Great Decisions, chose nine foreign policy topics for 2022: 

  • Biden’s Agenda – Speaker: Dr. Christopher Preble (Feb 1)
  • Drug Policy in Latin America – Speaker: Dr. Aileen Teague (Feb 8)
  • Quad Alliance – Speaker: Dr. Alan Tidwell (Feb 15)
  • Changing Demographics – Speaker: Dr. Deenesh Sohoni (Feb 22)
  • Myanmar and ASEAN – Speaker: Priscilla Clapp (March 1)
  • Industrial Policy – Speaker: Dr. Travis Taylor (March 8)
  • Climate Change – Speaker: David King  (March 15)
  • Russia – Speaker: Dr. Stephen E. Hanson (March 22)
  • Outer Space – Speaker: Dr. John M. Logsdon (March 29)

 The series fee (including one briefing book) was: $65.00 for 1 person; $90 for a household


Feb. 1—Biden’s Agenda

The new administration in Washington promised to reverse many of the policies of the past administration, especially in foreign policy. How will issues such as climate, the pandemic, and alliances be treated under the Biden administration?

Speaker: Dr. Christopher Preble is co-director of the New American Engagement Initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. In this role, he leads a team of scholars who challenge prevailing assumptions surrounding US foreign policy.  He has written four books focusing on the history of US foreign policy and national security.  (In-person)

Feb. 8—Drug Policy in Latin America

The issue of migration to the United States from Latin America has overshadowed the war on drugs, which has been underway for decades with little signs of progress. What are the roots and the bureaucratic logic behind today´s dominant drug policies in Latin America? Is it time to reconsider punitive drug control policies that disrupt supply chains and punish drug possession?

Speaker: Dr. Aileen Teague is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute and an Assistant Professor in the International Affairs Department at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. She is currently drafting a book manuscript that examines the effects of U.S. drug policies and policing efforts on Mexican politics and society from 1960 to 2000. (Zoom)

Feb. 15— The Quad Alliance

As part of the U.S. pivot to Asia, the United States has been in dialogue with Japan, Australia, and India in an effort to contain China. Recently, the Quad countries held joint naval exercises in the South Pacific. How effective will the actions of this alliance be?

Speaker: Dr. Alan Tidwell is Professor of Practice and the Director of the Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies (CANZPS) at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. His areas of interest include the Australian-American alliance, US-New Zealand relations, the politics of foreign affairs, smaller states of Oceania, and conflict resolution.  Prior to joining Georgetown University, he was a program officer with the United States Institute of Peace and held several academic positions in Australia. (Zoom)

Feb. 22— Changing Demographics 

The world experienced remarkable demographic changes in the 20th century that continue today and have resulted in far-reaching social, economic, political, and environmental consequences all over the globe. These consequences are creating mounting challenges to development efforts, security, climate, and the environment, as well as the sustainability of human populations.

Speaker: Dr. Deenesh Sohoni is Associate Professor of Sociology at the College of William & Mary. His sociological interests include globalization, immigration, and race relations. He is currently engaged in three research projects on these issues and regularly teaches courses on demography, race relations, global migration, and global social problems. He will focus on the role of climate change in causing demographic changes for this presentation. (In-person)

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Mar. 1—Myanmar and ASEAN

The situation in Myanmar, including the coup by the military in February 2021 and the ongoing human rights crises, coupled with civil resistance by those opposed to the regime, has led to chaos in the Southeast Asian country. How are neighboring countries reacting, and what role will ASEAN play?

Speaker: Priscilla Clapp is the former U.S. Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires in Myanmar and is currently an advisor to the Myanmar Program at the US Institution of Peace.  She is a retired minister-counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service having served in various posts around the world during her thirty-year career. Prior to government service, Clapp spent ten years in foreign policy and arms control research with the MIT Center for International Studies and as a Research Associate at the Brookings Institution. She is also the author of numerous publications. (In-person)

Mar. 8—Industrial Policy

The current discussion of industrial policy in the United States is not simply about whether or not to support specific companies or industries, but about trust or mistrust of the government and its ability to manage the economy and deal with a rising China. The upheaval in supply chains during the pandemic exposed weaknesses in the international economy. What policies can the United States implement to deal with trade and the economy?

Speaker: Dr. Travis Taylor is Professor of Economics and Honors Program Faculty in the College of Social Sciences at Christopher Newport University. Dr. Taylor’s research and teaching interests include the economics of international contracting, industrial policy & strategy, and sports & economics. A scholar of counter-trade and offset contracts, Dr. Taylor’s research has appeared in a variety of national and international publications.  (Zoom)

Mar. 15—Climate Change

The ideological divide in the United States on the subject of climate change has impeded progress in curbing greenhouse emissions. But extreme weather events at both ends of the thermometer have focused attention on the consequences of inaction. What role will the United States play in future negotiations on climate?

Speaker: David King is a recent graduate from the College of William & Mary, where he worked with Col. Larry Wilkerson a frequent and valued contributor to Great Decisions.  He is currently a Research Associate with Capital for Climate (C4C) which, with leading institutions,is designing a climate-investment platform for proactive, large-scale investors to address the climate crisis strategically and thus lead the transition to a net-zero carbon world by 2050. King will discuss merits and challenges of this approach. (In-person)

Mar. 22—Russia

Russia and the United States have many areas of conflict and some possible areas of mutual interest. Arms control, Russian interference in U.S. elections and support of cyber-attacks, the status of Ukraine, the fate of opposition politicians in Russia, all continue to be concerning. How will the new administration in Washington approach these issues?

Speaker: Dr. Stephen E. Hanson is the Vice Provost for Academic and International Affairs and the Lettie Pate Evans Professor in the Department of Government at William & Mary. He served from 2011–2021 as the Director of the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies. His scholarship focuses on the Soviet Union, post-communist politics, and comparative politics and has resulted in numerous books and articles including the prize-winning Time and Revolution: Marxism and the Design of Soviet Institutions. (In-person)

Mar. 28—Outer Space

The launch of Sputnik I in October 1957 marked the beginning of the space era and of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the 21st century, there are many more participants in space, including countries such as India and China, and commercial companies such as SpaceX. How will the United States fare in a crowded outer space.

Speaker: Dr. John M. Logsdon is Professor Emeritus at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where he was the founder and long-time director of GW’s Space Policy Institute. Dr. Logsdon’s research interests focus on the policy and historical aspects of U.S. and international space activities. He is author, among many articles, essays, and edited books, of such award-winning studies as John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon. (Zoom)

Check out the full list of topics from past Great Decisions: