2019 Great Decisions

Established in 1918, the Foreign Policy Association is a non-profit education organization and sponsor of the Great Decisions program. Great Decisions is a national civic-education program that encourages participants to:

  • Learn about U.S. foreign policy and global issues
  • Discuss multiple viewpoints in a group setting
  • Take part in a national opinion survey

Great Decisions events take place on Friday mornings, from 9:30 am to noon
At a new location, the Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell St (Rte.9), Hadley, MA 01035

Buy Tickets

Ticket Prices:
5CLIR members: $12 per individual discussion or $30 for the full series
Public admission: $15 per individual discussion or $40 for the full series

  • Tickets  may also be purchased at the door
  • There are no refunds on series purchases.
  • Sessions will be canceled if schools are closed for inclement weather.

Spring 2019 Topics:

APRIL 19:  Global Migration and the Rise of Populism with Vincent Ferrarro

Mass migration, and the problems associated with it, have directly abetted the rise of populist parties in Europe. These parties are invariably illiberal, anti-American, anti-NATO and pro-Kremlin, making their rise a matter of serious concern for the national security interests of the United States. Every state in today’s global system has its own laws and policies about who is permitted to cross its borders. How have different countries, including the United States, reacted to migration? How effective are the international laws, policies and organizations that have evolved to assist and protect refugees and migrants?

Vincent Ferrarro,Professor Emeritus, Mt. Holyoke College
Professor Vincent Ferraro is Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics, Emeritus, Mount Holyoke College. He has a B.A. from Dartmouth College, an M.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from MIT. Professor Ferraro, who specializes in changes in international relations since the end of the Cold War, has served as an academic consultant for the United Nations Association of the United States and consulted for the UN development program during the late 1980s. He served on the Pew Charitable Trust’s faculty fellowship board, as a member from 1989 to 1995. He is a recipient of an Andrew W. Mellon faculty grant for his research on political economy. His scholarly work in the field of international relations includes global poverty, third world development, and global debt. Dr. Ferraro most recently published The Crisis of the Liberal International Order: Technological Change and the Rise of the Right (Cornell University Press, 2018). On a lighter note, his “Things I Want My Granddaughter to Know“ appeared in September 2018’s Hampshire Life Magazine. He is currently completing a college textbook that will cover such topics as imperialism, balance of power, global poverty, and global environmental problems.


APRIL 26: The Middle East: Regional Disorder with Gregory White

 As the presidency of Donald J. Trump passes the halfway point, the Middle East remains a region in turmoil. The Trump administration has aligned itself with strongmen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which along with Israel have a common goal of frustrating Iranian expansion. What will be the fallout from policy reversals such as withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear accord and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? Does the United States see a path forward in troubled states such as Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq? Is the United States headed toward war with Iran?

Gregory White, Professor, Smith College
Gregory White is the Mary Huggins Gamble Professor of Government at Smith College, and chair of the department. He is also a member of the Environmental Science and Policy program. From 20112014, he served as the Faculty Director of the Lewis Global Studies Center. He received a doctorate in Political Science and African Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has held Fulbright scholarships to Tunisia and Morocco. He has served as a co-editor of the Journal of North African Studies since 2014, and a Middle East and North Africa consultant for Freedom House in New York. He is the author of Climate Change and Migration: Borders and Security in a Warming World (Oxford University Press, 2011) and co-editor of North African Politics: Change and Continuity (Routledge Press, 2016). His recent work continues to focus on “climate refugees,” an issue that lies at the intersection of migration, environmental, security, and North African studies. At Smith, he teaches courses on international relations, environmental politics, and political theory. In 2018-2019, he is co-directing a Kahn Liberal Arts Institute project at Smith on “Refugees.”


May 10: Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics with Amir Houmansadr

Cyber conflict is a new and continually developing threat, which can include foreign interference in elections, industrial sabotage and attacks on infrastructure. Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential elections in the United States and China is highly committed to using cyberspace as a tool of national policy. Dealing with cyber conflict will require new ways of looking at 21st century warfare. Is the United States prepared to respond to such threats?

Amir Houmansadr, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amir Houmansadr is Assistant Professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at UMass Amherst. His area of research is network security and privacy. He works on particular problems such as internet censorship resistance, covert communications, and location privacy.  Houmansadr received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 2012, and did two years of post-doctoral work at U. of Texas before coming to UMass in 2014. He also holds M.Sc. and B.Sc. degrees in electrical engineering from the Sharif University of Technology, Tehran.  He has published numerous papers and chaired many international meetings on computer security. He was co-chair of the International Workshop on Cyber Crime in 2014; he moderated a panel on Internet censorship at NYU, and was the keynote speaker on this subject at a 2016 meeting in Brazil. In 2017, he was part of the 18th World Conference on Information Security Applications. Professor Houmansadr maintains a full teaching schedule at UMass with courses in “Introduction to Computer and Network Security” and “Advanced Informational Assurance.”