Prepare to discuss the world as Great Decisions, a popular annual discussion series developed by the Foreign Policy Association and presented locally by faculty from the University of North Georgia, returns to Forsyth County Public Library on February 17, 2021.
Great Decisions 2021 will be presented as a series of eight online guest lectures and Q & A sessions hosted on FCPL's GoToMeeting platform. Participation is free, but advance registration for each session is required. Links to join each session will be emailed to registered participants in advance of each event.
The series will include the following topics:
Global Supply Chains and National Security
Presented by Dlynn Williams, Ph.D., Department Head, Political Science
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?
Persian Gulf Security Issues
Presented by Victoria Hightower, Ph.D., Associate Professor, History
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?
Brexit and the European Union
Presented by Nathan Price, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science & International Affairs
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?
Struggles Over the Melting Arctic
Presented by Hamid Serri, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Security Studies
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?
China's Role in Africa
Presented by Laurel Wei, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
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?
The Korean Peninsula
Presented by Sung Shin Kim, Ph.D., Professor, History
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?
The end of globalization?
Presented by Cristian Harris, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Political Science
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?
Roles of International Organizations in a Global Pandemic
Presented by Sam Rohrer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
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?