Global health issues, nuclear proliferation, and the complexity of U.S.-Saudi and U.S.-China relations are a few of the dynamic topics that will be explored at Hope from February 6 through April 3 through the college’s ongoing partnership with the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

The council’s Great Decisions Global Discussion Series highlights the most critical global topics facing Americans for the year as chosen by the Foreign Policy Association in New York City.  The council brings experts to West Michigan to discuss the topics, with presentations at Hope in the afternoon and at Aquinas College in the evening.

Running on Mondays, the series will feature eight events, but the February 13 and March 20 speakers won’t appear at Hope because the college will be on its Winter Break and Spring Break respectively on those two days.  There will be no speaker at either location on March 6.

The public is invited, and admission is free to the afternoon Hope events.  There is an admission charge for the evening events at Aquinas College.

The talks at Hope will take place at 1 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.  The six events taking place at Hope are:

Monday, Feb. 6: “Rx: Prescription for Global Health”

Jason Beaubien, a National Public Radio correspondent, will review his diagnosis of the current global health issues, including those in Latin America. Beaubien has spent years covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean as well as filed stories on Mexico’s brutal drug war, politics in Cuba and received a Peabody Award in 2015 for his team’s coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

Monday, Feb. 20: “Nuclear Proliferation: New Worries”

With thousands of nuclear warheads deployed and in storage around the world, it seems inevitable that nuclear bombs may fall into the wrong hands. Yet in the 75 years of the nuclear era, this hasn’t happened. Why? Join Jack Segal, the former National Security Council director for nonproliferation, as he leads a discussion on the future of nuclear security. 

Monday, Feb. 27: “South China Sea: Clash of Strategies”

John Adams, retired brigadier general U.S. Army, shares his expertise and take on current U.S.-China relations. He will analyze Chinese actions in the South China Sea and elsewhere, exploring how they can be a roadmap for the United States response to this growing world power. 

Monday, Mar. 13: “Afghanistan: Fight . . . or Run?”

Ronald E. Neumann served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007 and continues to make frequent trips to the region. He joins us to explain the complexity of Afghanistan and our country’s role there. In his tenure as ambassador, he met with senior leaders, journalists, soldiers and business insiders, and possesses a depth of experience that can lead to a better understanding of this delicate situation.  

Monday, Mar. 27: “The E.U.: An Uncertain Future”

John McCormick, professor of European Union Politics at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, explores the future of the European Union as it faces Brexit, the Eurozone crisis and Syrian migration. McCormick will share his analysis in the context of rising populism around the world as well as growing criticism of immigration and globalization. 

Monday, Apr. 3: “Shifts in the Sand: U.S.-Saudi Relations”

Simon Henderson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, will review the complicated relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia in the face of a Trump administration and the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. 

Each of the six presentations will take place at Aquinas College later on the same day, at 6 p.m. in the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center.  The additional two events taking place only at Aquinas, also at 6 p.m., are:

Monday, Feb. 13:  “Choke Points: Global Water, Food and Energy Crises”

Keith Schneider, from Circle of Blue, an environmental think tank based in Traverse City, and Liz Kirkwood, environmental lawyer who led the “Oil and Water Don’t Mix” campaign against the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Mackinac straits, will lead a conversation about the challenges posed by significant water risks in Michigan and beyond. 

Monday, Mar. 20: “Is it all Politics? Trade and U.S. Jobs”

One needs to look no further than the past presidential election to understand the popular narrative: trade means that China wins at America’s expense. But do the numbers support that conclusion? Jeremy Haft, Georgetown University professor and CEO of SafeSource Trading, assesses the rhetoric and the reality of global trade and U.S. jobs. 

Admission to each of the eight evening events at Aquinas is $10. 

Hope is an educational partner of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan (, which is dedicated to educating people in western Michigan about other countries and cultures of the world, as well as providing a forum for discussion of critical foreign policy issues.  In existence since 1949, the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan is a non-partisan, non-advocacy educational non-profit organization.  With 60 member companies and almost 3,000 members, it is considered one of the best councils in the national network of 100 World Affairs Councils.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.  The Aquinas College Performing Arts Center is located at 1703 Robinson Rd. SE in Grand Rapids.

More information about the presentations at Hope is available here.  More information and about the Great Decisions Global Discussion Series as a whole is also available.