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Great Decisions will begin its 40th year at Monmouth on Jan. 29

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – A popular discussion series at Monmouth College is turning 40.

When it holds the first of its eight spring semester sessions on Jan. 29, the Great Decisions program will mark four decades on campus.

Since 1981, Great Decisions has operated at Monmouth as a forum where the public and the academic community can meet in a congenial setting and freely discuss world affairs. All eight Great Decisions programs this semester are free and open to the public. They will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Moot Board Room, concluding on March 25 with a session on artificial intelligence.

“One of the best aspects of these programs is that we always have a diverse audience, including members of the broader Monmouth community, as well as the students, staff and faculty of the College,” said Monmouth political science professor Mike Nelson, who will lead the third session on Feb. 12. “This year, we will include faculty speakers with a wide range of backgrounds, including anthropology, biology, communication studies, computer science, history, Latin American studies and political science.”

Biology is up first, as veteran professor Ken Cramer will lead the Jan. 29 discussion titled “Climate Change and the Global Order.”

Other topics that will be discussed in the first few weeks of the series are India and Pakistan, Red Sea security and human trafficking. The United States’ relationships with the Northern Triangle and the Philippines are also on the agenda, as well as China’s dealings in Latin America.

Called “America’s largest discussion program on world affairs,” Great Decisions is a nationwide program sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association, a non-partisan, non-governmental association that works to increase Americans’ understanding of foreign policy issues.

A companion guide, Great Decisions 2020, can be ordered online at It includes eight chapters, each of which takes about a half-hour to read. The readings are also available on reserve at the College’s Hewes Library.

Great Decisions is sponsored on campus by the Center for Civic and Social Change, the offices of intercultural life and academic affairs and the political science department.

“This is a time of great global change, as America’s leaders reassess our position in the world, China rises and the general diplomatic status quo faces increasing challenges,” said Nelson. “This program allows all of us to stay informed and have the time to reflect and discuss how all of this is significant to our own lives.”

For more information about Great Decisions at Monmouth College, contact Nelson at or 309-457-2422.