Great Decisions, a non-partisan discussion forum, provides education on important American policy issues. Each program features a presenter with expertise in the topic, who will set the stage for the discussion of diverse viewpoints.
Participants are encouraged, but not required, to checkout or read the desk copy of the Great Decisions briefing book—available at the Galaxie Library—prior to the program.
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 6:30–8 p.m., Galaxie
Today, with the number of displaced people at an all-time high, a number of world powers find themselves facing a difficult question: how can they balance border security with humanitarian concerns? More importantly, what can they do to resolve these crises so as to limit the number of displaced persons?
Presented by Michele Garnett McKenzie. McKenzie serves on the senior leadership team at The Advocates for Human Rights and on the national leadership team of the Immigration Advocates Network and on the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault public policy committee. She currently teaches the Immigration Education and Outreach Externship for the U of M Law School’s Center for New Americans.
United Nations post-2015
Tuesday, Oct. 18, 6:30–8 p.m., Galaxie
As the UN’s 193 member states look back at the success of the millennium development goals, they also must assess their needs for its sustainable development goals — a new series of benchmarks, which are set to expire in 2030.
Presented by Joe Schwartzberg, a former professor of geography and South Asian studies. His most recent book, Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, was published by the United Nations University Press in 2013, and has been warmly endorsed by former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and many other prominent global thinkers.
Shifting Alliances in the Middle East
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 6:30–8 p.m., Galaxie
As alliances between state and non-state actors in the region are constantly shifting, the U.S. has found itself between a rock and a hard place. In a series of disputes that are far from being black-and-white, what can the U.S. do to secure its interests in the region without causing further damage and disruption?
Presented by Todd Lefko, the president of the International Business Development Company, an import-export firm dealing with water purification equipment, aeration systems, industrial valves for oil and gas, water and sewage, pulp and paper, and kilns, art and linen and new technologies. Lefko splits his time between Minnesota and Moscow.
The Future of Kurdistan
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6:30–8 p.m., Galaxie
Kurdistan, a mountainous region made up of parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, is home to one of the largest ethnic groups in West Asia: the Kurds. Now, most in the West know them for the small, oil-rich autonomous region in northern Iraq called Iraqi Kurdistan—one of the United States' closest allies in the Middle East and a bulwark against the expansion of the so-called Islamic State. What does the success of Iraqi Kurdistan mean for Kurds in the surrounding region?
Presented by Gary Prevost, a professor of political science and international relations at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota.