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February 8, 2008 - The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan presents western Michigan’s only lecture series devoted to American foreign policy issues. The series, entitled the Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series, began February 4 and runs consecutively each Monday through March 31. The lectures begin at 6 p.m.

The series focuses exclusively on American foreign policymaking. Foreign policy has gotten more complex with the blurring of the distinction between domestic and foreign issues. Every facet of life in the United States is affected by decisions made in other parts of the world. The world truly is flat.

Dixie Anderson, Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan said, "For this election year, we developed a powerful series of lectures that present some of the key foreign policy issues the presidential candidates should be addressing."

New this year is a time change for the lectures. Each lecture will run approximately 45 minutes and will begin 6 p.m. They will take place in the Performing Arts Center on the Aquinas College campus, except for the March 31 lecture with Michael Shifter which will take place at Donnelly Center on the Aquinas College campus.

All the lectures are open to the public. Cost to attend is $10 per lecture. Students with I.D. are $5. (Aquinas faculty, staff and students are free with ID). Free parking. For further information, contact the World Affairs Council office at (616) 776-1721 for a brochure or visit to download the brochure.

The local lecture series by the World Affairs Council is one of the largest foreign policy lecture series in the nation and considered one of the best Great Decisions programs in the country, according to the Foreign Policy Association (NY, NY), the producer of the series. For further information on the Foreign Policy Association go to

2008 Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series Schedule

Feb. 11 - "China's Economic Rise: Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S.,"
Dr. Nicholas Lardy, Peterson Institute, Washington, D.C.
Recent product safety scares have thrown the spotlight on the enormous role China plays in supplying products to the U.S. Could the large and growing trade imbalance with China have an adverse effect on the U.S. economy? What role does the undervalued Chinese currency play?
Evening Sponsors: AlphaMax Advisors and JSJ Corporation

Feb. 18 -"Putin's Long Shadow: Russia's Future"
Panel Discussion: Dr. Heather Tafel, GVSU, Moderator; Panelists: Dr. Jim Butterfield, WMU and Dr. Gerard Libaridian, U of M
Vladimir Putin may not continue as Russia’s president, but he is unlikely to disappear from the political scene. How much influence will he have after the March 2008 elections? And what course will Russia take?
Evening Sponsor: ADAC Automotive

Feb. 25 – "Philanthropy: Does This New Global Player Have the Power to Make a Difference?" James McHale, Senior Vice President of Programs, Kellogg Foundation; Introduction of Speaker: Dorothy Johnson, President Emeritus, Council of Michigan Foundations
Billionaire Warren Buffet's June 2007 pledge to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation prompted headlines about the size of the gift and the impact it could have on global education and health initiatives. Can private donors be more effective than governments in tackling world problems?
Evening Sponsor: Grand Rapids Community Foundation

March 3 - "Benjamin Britten's War Requiem: The Story of Peace Behind the Music," David Lockington, Music Director, GR Symphony
Discussion/AV presentation of the Benjamin Britten "War Requiem" that will be played by the Grand Rapids Symphony on March 14 & 15, (with Lockington as conductor). Controversial when written in 1962, it’s now a powerful ode to peace and the horror of war. Rarely performed in the United States (and then only by major symphonies), it's an epic work with a huge cast of participants, with 300 people on stage, including two choral choirs. Tickets to Symphony "For Peace" Performances Available at Lecture.
Evening Sponsor: Marsh

March 10 - "European Union at 50" Dr. John McCormick, Indiana University-Purdue University.
It's the world's largest economy, but fiercely shuns the use of force to project power. Fifty years after its creation in the aftermath of World War II, has the European Union finally reached 'superpower' status?
Evening Sponsor: Thomas M. Cooley Law School

March 17 - "U.S., Syria and the new Middle East: Confrontation or Cooperation?" Ambassador Imad Moustapha, Ambassador of Syria, Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Moustapha has been the Syrian Ambassador to the United States since March 2004. Prior, he was a dean at the University of Damascus, with a Ph.D in Computer Science. He's also a blogger commenting on life, culture and friends in Washington, D.C. His wide range of interests include: globalization, Syrian art, classical music, and the social and economic impacts of the Internet.
Evening Sponsor: WAC Board Secretary Yasmin Kidwai and Riverview Athletic Club

March 25 - Invited and Not Confirmed. Note Tuesday date instead of Monday. "Meeting the Challenges of Persistent Conflict in the 21st Century." Invited: General George Casey, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C. The U.S. military is adopting new policies and methods for defending the U.S. and its interests abroad. What should U.S. priorities be? How should its forces be structured and deployed to meet new security challenges?
Evening Sponsor: World Affairs Councils of America Board Member Jim Lexo & ICRC (Washington, D.C.)

March 31 - "Urgently in Need of Repair: U.S.'s Relationship with Latin America" Michael Shifter, Inter-American Dialogue, Washington, D.C. What factors have prevented the U.S. and Latin American countries from forging a strong relationship? What challenges confront U.S. policy in Latin America? Can the U.S. offer an alternative to the influence of left-leaning leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez? NOTE: Location Change - Donnelly Center, Aquinas College
Evening Sponsor: Crowe Chizek