2020 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

5CLIR’s 2020 Great Decisions events are held on Friday mornings, 9:30 am to noon
On March 27, April 3, 17, and 24
At a new location, the Yiddish Book Center

Ticket Prices:
5CLIR members: $12 per individual discussion or $40 for the full series
Public admission: $15 per individual discussion or $50 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.

Buy Tickets

Online ticket sales open on March 1, 2020

or Print a ticket form and mail with your check to:
5CLIR, 18 Henshaw Ave., C2, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063

Spring 2020 Topics:

March 27, 2020:
with David Jensen, Professor, UMass Amherst

Policymakers in many countries are developing plans and funding research in artificial intelligence (AI). Global growth is slowing, and not surprisingly, many policymakers hope that AI will provide a magic solution. The EU, Brazil, and other Western countries have adopted regulations that grant users greater control over their data and require that firms using AI be transparent about how they use it. Will the U.S. follow suit?

About the Speaker:

David Jensen is a Professor of Computer Science at University of Massachusetts Amherst.  He directs the Knowledge Discovery Laboratory and currently serves as the Director of the Computational Social Science Institute, an interdisciplinary effort at UMass to study social phenomena using computational tools and concepts.  He received a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1992, and from 1991 to 1995, he served as an analyst with the Office of Technology Assessment, an agency that operates under the auspices of the United States Congress.

Professor Jensen’s research focuses on machine learning and artificial intelligence for analyzing large social, technological, and computational systems.  His research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  He served on the Board of Directors of the ACM Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (2005-2013), the Defense Science Study Group (2006-2007), and DARPA’s Information Science and Technology Group (2007-2012).  He received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the UMass College of Natural Sciences in 2011.

April 3, 2020:   

with Leah Schmalzbauer, Professor, Amherst College

Combating illegal immigration has become a priority of the Trump administration. The Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, is a special target of the administration, which holds the nations responsible for the large flow of migrants from Latin America to the U.S. With funds from the U.S. cut, how can the Northern Triangle countries curtail migration?

About the Speaker:
Leah Schmalzbauer is the William R. Kenan Professor of Sociology and American Studies, and Chair of the Department of Anthropology & Sociology at Amherst College. Her teaching and research are situated at the intersections of family, inequality, globalization and migration between Latin America and the United States. In addition to many journal articles and book chapters, she is the author of three books: Striving and Surviving: A Daily Life Analysis of Honduran Transnational Families (Routledge 2005), The Last Best Place? Gender, Family and Migration in the New West (Stanford University Press 2014), and Immigrant Families (Polity 2016) which she co-authored with Cecilia Menjívar and Leisy Abrego.

Professor Schmalzbauer is currently working on a life history project exploring the educational mobility paths of low-income Latinx youth at elite colleges. She lives in Amherst with her husband, Steve Bruner, and her two children, Micah and Zola.

April 17, 2020:  

with Kavita Khory, Professor, Mount Holyoke College

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode a wave of Hindu nationalism to a historic reelection in 2019. His first order of business was to revoke the special status granted to the Kashmir region, inflaming the rivalry between India and Pakistan. How will the Kashmir situation affect the region, both economically and politically?

About the Speaker:
Kavita Khory is the Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics and Carol Hoffman Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives at Mount Holyoke College.

A scholar of migration and nationalism, she is an expert on political violence and security issues in South Asia.  She is the editor of Global Migration: Challenges in the 21st Century; her most recent essay, “Regional Migration and Indian Security,” was published in the Oxford Handbook of Indian Security (2018).  At Mount Holyoke, she teaches courses on international security, global migration, nationalism and ethnic conflict, as well as the politics of South Asia.  She is the 2017 recipient of the Mount Holyoke College Faculty Award for Teaching.

A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Professor Khory joined the College as a faculty member in 1990 after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She has simultaneously served as the chair of both the Politics and International Relations departments at Mount Holyoke.

April 24, 2020:

with Peter Haas, Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Climate change has become one of the defining issues of our time. As much of the world bands together to come up with a plan, the U.S. remains the notable holdout. What is the rest of the world doing to combat climate change? What impact will the effects of climate change have on global geopolitics?

About the Speaker:
Peter M. Haas is a professor of political science at University of Massachusetts Amherst,  where he has taught since 1987. He received a Ph.D. in 1986 from MIT. He has published extensively on international environmental politics and global governance, and the interplay of science and international institutions at the international level. He is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Scholar Award of the International Studies Association Environmental Studies Section.

Dr. Haas is the author or co-author of many books, chapters, and peer-reviewed articles with his work published in seven languages. Recently, his work has focused on networked governance and the role of science in international environmental regimes. He has consulted for the Commission on Global Governance, the United Nations Environment Programme; the governments of the United States, France, Switzerland, and Portugal, and the United States National Academy of Sciences. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, German Marshall Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Institute for the Study of World Politics, and the Gallatin Foundation.