Great Discussions 2009
April 30 - June 4, 2009
The Global Affairs Center at Shoreline Community College hosted a series of discussions on current foreign policy issues on six consecutive Thursday evenings, beginning April 30, 2009.
The format was built around Great Decisions, a publication prepared annually by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) of New York; and containing several pages of thoughtful briefing material on each issue.
The themes and facilitators were:
April 30 Rising Global Powers. [Staser Holcomb, U.S. Navy (retired)] Since the end of the cold war, the U.S. has emerged as the world's predominant power. However, in the 21st century some rapidly developing countries have become increasingly influential. Who are these rising powers? Will their emergence change the global balance of power? How will the U.S. react?
May 7 Energy and Global Economy. [Bob Francis, Shoreline Community College] Rising energy prices, driven by instability in key producing regions such as the Middle East and increasing demand from developing countries, are affecting the global economy. What are the potential consequences of huge wealth transfers to oil-exporting states? Are there any realistic alternative energy scenarios on the horizon?
May 14 Afghanistan and Pakistan. [Larry Fuell, Shoreline Community College] Newfound hopes for stability in Iraq have shifted the U.S. military focus back to Afghanistan and Pakistan, one of the most volatile border regions in the world. What impact will this renewed interest have on the two states as well as on U.S. defense strategy?
May 21 Cuba on the Verge. [Carlos Lazo, Cuban refugee and activist] Since Fidel Castro handed over the presidency of Cuba to his brother, Raul, in early 2008, signs of greater economic openness have led to much speculation. Will Raul seek to reopen ties with the U.S.? What role will Cuba's American exiles play in shaping a post-Castro Cuba?
May 28 The Global Food Supply. [Brady Walkinshaw, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation] Global prices for food staples have risen dramatically, resulting in protests and unrest around the world. What factors are driving prices up, and can they be tamed? What will the political fallout be for governments that fail to act, and what role can global institutions play?
June 4 Universal Human Rights. [Bruce Kochis, University of Washington-Bothell] As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights celebrates its 60th anniversary, events in the Balkans, Sudan and Myanmar continue to challenge its idealism, while raising new questions about the prospects for humanitarian interventions. Do human rights transcend national borders and customs? Is the definition of human rights changing?