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ECU to host Great Decisions lecture series

GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Dec. 8, 2009)   —   East Carolina University will host the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Program for the sixth year Jan. 16 through March 6. Sponsored by the World Affairs Council (WAC) of Eastern North Carolina and ECU, the program will run for eight consecutive Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Rivers West Building auditorium on campus.

The eight-week lecture series will feature a range of topics and discussions hosted by academic and professional experts. The schedule is as follows:

Jan. 16: Russia and Its Neighbors hosted by Richard Ericson, ECU’s Department of Economics — Russia's policy of maintaining a “sphere of influence” in former Soviet satellites has been challenged in recent years by movements against pro-Russia regimes. Russia has pushed back by cutting Ukraine's natural gas supply and intervening in Georgia's campaign in South Ossetia. Will Russia regain its traditional leadership role in the region?

Jan. 23: Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution hosted by John Williams, ECU’s International Studies program — U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that military force alone cannot ensure peace in all conflicts. How can the United States successfully integrate the tools of peace building into its statecraft? At what point do poverty, disease and climate change threaten national security? What role can non-governmental actors play in supporting government-led efforts?

Jan. 30: US-China Security Relations hosted by Yang Zhong, University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Political Science — China's influence is growing, along with its military expenditures. How will this growth affect China's relations with its neighbors and with the United States? Will China's expanding military and economic power affect traditional U.S. roles and U.S. alliances in East Asia? How will countries like Japan, South Korea and India respond? Funding for this presentation is partially provided by the International Studies Program of ECU’s Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Feb. 6: Global Financial Crisis hosted by Randall Parker, ECU’s Department of Economics — The global financial crisis that began in late 2007 revealed major deficiencies in the regulation of markets and institutions, all of which came perilously close to collapse. Emergency measures to prevent a full collapse of the global financial system have led to mixed results. How will governments and the world community respond to this challenge?

Feb. 13: Kenya and R2P hosted by Nancy Spalding, ECU’s Department of Political Science — Post-election rioting in Kenya in December 2007 brought pressure on Nairobi from international and regional diplomats to end tensions and avert bloodshed on a massive scale. What lessons can be learned from the intervention in Kenya? What does it mean for the United Nation's emerging responsibility to protect doctrine?

Feb. 20: Special Envoys hosted by Todd Bennett and Michael Palmer, ECU’s Department of History — Special envoys can help bring attention and diplomatic muscle to resolve conflicts and global challenges but they also bring with them their own "special" problems. Will the Obama administration's reliance on special envoys increase the ability of the United States to deal with major international issues or complicate our diplomatic options?

Feb. 27: The Persian Gulf hosted by Lawrence G. Potter, Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs — Now more than ever, the Persian Gulf region offers many difficult challenges to U.S. policymakers. How will Obama's direct appeal to Arabs and Muslims impact U.S. foreign policy in the region? What will the fallout of withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq be? Can the United States and its allies prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons? Funding for this presentation is partially provided by ECU’s Office of International Affairs.

March 6: Global Crime hosted by Hamid Kusha, ECU’s Department of Criminal Justice — From the booming sex trade in Eastern Europe, to online fraud syndicates in Africa and the drug cartels of Asia and Central America, crime is becoming increasingly organized and globalized. How can countries better protect citizens seeking the benefits of a globalized world from being exploited? What international actors can effectively fight global organized crime?

Full-time students and teachers can attend for free and purchase the program book for $18.  The fee is $32 for all eight sessions for WAC members (textbook included) and $42 for the general public (without the textbook). Individual sessions cost $6.

For additional information, see the Great Decisions webpage ( or contact Dr. Sylvie Debevec Henning at 252-328-5520 or at  To register, visit the World Affairs Council of Eastern North Carolina webpage, go to Great Decisions and click on Registration to access the registration form.