Great Decisions Explore Global Issues

Not everyone thinks about what happens on the other side of the globe, but a group of hearty intellectuals are taking on the task of better understanding our ever-shrinking world.

The Mattapoisett Women’s Club is bringing together about 25 to 30 individuals to discuss the latest global shapers – including the Arab Spring, Cyber security, Mexico, American exit from Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the state of the oceans, and energy geopolitics – as part of the upcoming Great Decisions discussion series.

These topics were chosen by the American Foreign Policy Association, which promotes Great Decisions events throughout the country. AFPA reading material is distributed beforehand to give participants “a level playing field” to discuss these multi-faceted issues, according to event co-chair Eileen Marum.

“These are intelligent conversations, we build on each other’s comments,” Ms. Marum said. “Every year they pick good topics.”

With Mattapoisett Women’s Club running the event in its 31st year, “it has been quite successful,” said Ms. Marum. She said participants range from folks in the legal and medical community to homemakers, and recently the series has been attracting large numbers of baby boomers. Everyone is welcome to participate in the series, but needs to put forward $28 to purchase the briefing book and chip in for refreshments.

Great Decisions allows exploration of issues that go beyond the headlines. Ms. Marum said she is especially looking forward to discussions on the Arab Spring – the pro-democracy uprisings that have toppled regimes in countries like Egypt and are significantly changing the Middle Eastern political landscape.

Ms. Marum, who has a Masters degree in public policy, said this issue is particularly interesting because “it has been in the making since 1950s and 1960s.” She said new technology tools – such as the Internet, Twitter, and social media – have brought grievances “to the forefront” and helped people in the Middle East organize for change. Also, she said the fact that the majority of residents are under age 30 helps propel the cause.

“These are the people who know how to use social media,” she said. “It is the confluence of people and event and government situations that brought it together.” She also noted the impact of the fall of Saddam Hussein on changing the dynamic of the region.

As to whether or not enough Americans take the time to learn what is going on in the world, she said, “certain groups of Americans pay attention… there is a thirst for knowledge about foreign policy.”

The foreign policy discussions are scheduled on Wednesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, starting from January 25 and continuing through March 14, at the Mattapoisett Free Public Library. It is not too late to register, contact co-chairs: Ellen P. Flynn at 508-758-1312 or Ms. Marum at 508-758-9751 for more information.

By Laura Fedak Pedulli

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