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Lecture series returns for fourth year

Speakers to tackle global issues

POSTED: January 16, 2013 4:00 a.m.

An annual discussion program produced by the Foreign Policy Association and presented by the University of North Georgia kicked off an eight-week series Monday to explore the international economy and world politics.

The Great Decisions lecture series is in its fourth year and will run each Monday and Thursday through March 7 at the university's Gainesville and Cumming campuses.

Those who attend will have the opportunity to explore topics ranging from Middle East realignment to energy geopolitics, all led by the university's faculty members.

"It really gives us an opportunity for us to go out into the community with professors who have a background in those particular areas so they can lead a discussion with community members and those interested, and examine some of the deeper questions and consequences of the rise of other powers in the world, increasing threats to national security and our relation with international partners," said Dlynn Armstrong-Williams, head of the Department of International Affairs and Political Science at UNG.

Armstrong-Williams, whose background is in international security, will host her lecture, "Threat Assessment," on Feb. 4 and Feb. 7.

"I think that one of the things that has happened in the media is the huge politicization of foreign policy questions - all questions," she said. "What happens then is it's approached from more of a confrontational viewpoint as opposed to a consensus-building viewpoint.

"As professors, we try to explain what's happening, not necessarily politicize what's happening. I think that for many people, they're exposed mostly to the politicization of those issues and they see everything as punditry as opposed to an intellectual, analytical examination of what could be causing particular actions by both the United States and others in the new world system."

The series will be held on Mondays on the Gainesville campus in the Martha Nesbitt Building, Cleveland Room 3110A, and on Thursdays on the Cumming campus, room 162. Lectures will run from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. with the last hour held open for questions and discussion.

Each year, the series' editorial board selects eight new topics based on the most pressing global issues and regions.

All eight will be featured in an accompanying briefing book and in the Great Decisions Television Series airing nationally on Public Broadcasting Station channels.

"It's pulled historians and political scientists who have that as part of the focus of their study to have a broader, hopefully very informed discussions about those issues," said Armstrong-Williams. "Our hope is through the Great Decisions series we can have kind of a space where individuals can ask questions in an environment where the focus is truly on the issue, not on how the issue can be used."

Last year's sessions each drew 50 to 75 people.

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