Great Decisions Discussion Groups 2024

Cover of Great Decisions policy book showing topic titles and photo of stacked large pipe sections and worker wearing a hard hat and safety vest.Sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association, Great Decisions is America’s largest discussion program on world affairs. The program involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book and meeting to discuss the most critical global issues facing America.

Two discussion groups are administered jointly by AAUW Naperville Area and Naperville Public Library, and are open to the Naperville area community. The day group meets virtually. The evening group meets in-person at the library for some sessions, and virtually for others.

The discussions are free but a briefing book is required to fully participate. Purchase a 2024 book from the Foreign Policy Association in electronic or print versions. There is also a DVD available for purchase with master classes presented on each topic.

EVENING – Nine weeks. Meets Thursdays, 7:15 – 8:45 p.m., January through March 2024. To participate, contact Becky,

DAY GROUP – Nine weeks. Meets Tuesdays, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., January through March 2024. To participate, contact Lee,

2024 Topics

Each topic provides historical background, examines the subject impartially, explores options facing citizens and policymakers, and debates the implications.

Mideast Realignment (by Marc Lynch)

The United States and Middle East are at a crossroads. In spite of a reduced presence in the Middle East, the U.S. still has significant national interests there and the area is a key arena for global power politics. Can the U.S. continue to defend its interests in the Middle East and globally with a lower level of military and political involvement, or should it recommit to a leading role in the region?

Climate technology and competition (by Bud Ward)

Will the United States and China, with other powerful countries following suit, approach current and future climate initiatives with an increased commitment to trade protectionism and nationalism, by various measures including trade restrictions? Or could a growing spirit of international accord develop to confront the “common enemy” of climate change?

Science across borders (by Mila Rosenthal)

Scientific advances benefit from collaboration between researchers, but what happens when material, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is controversial and important to a nation’s national security? Is there a middle ground between sharing information and denying access? How can we regulate cooperation?

U.S.-China trade rivalry (by Jonathan Chanis)

China’s economic rise and its current policies of increasing the role of the state in the economy have led some U.S. policymakers to seek to deny China access to U.S. technology and investment. This is seen as a necessary corrective to decades of predatory Chinese economic policies. Is this a wise strategy, and how effective can it be?

NATO’s future (by Sarwar Kashmeri)

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has come under increased scrutiny, not because NATO troops are involved in the conflict, but because of its role in relations between Russia and its neighbors. Will expanding membership in NATO protect countries, or will it further provoke Russia?

Understanding Indonesia (By Charles Sullivan)

Despite its large size, Indonesia remains virtually invisible to most Americans. But as one of the world’s largest democracies, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, and as an economic driver of ASEAN, why does it fly below the radar? What are current issues in U.S.-Indonesian relations, and what role can the country play in Asia?

High Seas Treaty (by FPA editors)

Areas of the seas beyond national jurisdiction comprise the high seas, which are facing a degradation of ecosystems due to climate change and the increase in human activities, such as shipping, overfishing, pollution, and deep-sea mining. The recently negotiated High Seas Treaty, also known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction Treaty, will attempt to address these issues. How difficult will it be to convince nations to participate?

Pandemic preparedness (by Carolyn Reynolds)

Looking back at the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many lessons to take away in terms of domestic and international policies. Although this pandemic seems to have waned, how can we apply these lessons to future pandemics? Will countries cooperate, and will a consensus emerge on how to manage global health challenges?