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The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan to Host 2014 Downtown Lecture Discussion Series

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2014-02-28 22:50:38 - Exclusive Series on Foreign Policy Highlights Global Business Issues March-April

The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan is announcing its 2014 Downtown Lecture Discussion Series, featuring a business-oriented outlook on global and foreign issues.

Discussions will be held on Tuesdays from 12 – 1 p.m., March 11 through April 1. The series features topics ranging from Turkey as a bridge between the chasm that divides Western and Eastern cultures to U.S. trade policy in the Western hemisphere. These events are held in addition to Monday evening sessions that share the same topic of the Tuesday discussion, but with a wider, less business-oriented focus on the issues.

The series kicks off on Tuesday, March 11 with a discussion by Dr. Jerry Leach, a retired U.S. diplomat, teacher and non-profit leader, that

will be moderated by Michelle Metro-Roland of Western Michigan University. The discussion, “Turkey at a Crossroads,” will include topics such as the ever-growing chasm between the East and West, enduring clashes between secular and religious groups and the recent protests in Taksim Square.

Offered again this year is the “armchair discussion” format. This presentation format gives speakers 10-15 minutes of informal remarks, followed by a moderator beginning discussion with follow-up questions from the audience.

The following session topics include:
• Tuesday, March 18: Unintended Consequences of The Arab Spring. Presented by Reza Marashi, National Iranian American Council, Washington, D.C.
• Tuesday, March 25: U.S. Trade Policy in the Western Hemisphere. Armchair discussion with Walter Bastian, deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington D.C. Monday talk Moderated by Drew Johnston, president of Walgren Co., and Tuesday talk moderated by Kendra Kuo, U.S. Department of Commerce.
• Tuesday, April 1: Is China Opening Up or Closing Down? Presented by James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic.

“These four topics have been intentionally placed in the Tuesday lineup in March because of strong interest among our corporate members,” said Dixie Anderson, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. “The discussion and question-and-answer session for each of these sessions will be more business oriented.

“The sessions themselves will only be one hour, starting promptly at noon and ending exactly at 1 p.m. so that they will fit into a lunch hour. We hope to get a good audience in downtown Grand Rapids and are looking at expanding the lunch sessions to all eight topics featured in the full Great Decisions series if there is enough interest.”

The Tuesday discussions will be held at the Gillette Auditorium in the Fifth Third Bank Building, 111 Lyon Street NE, downtown Grand Rapids. The public is welcome to attend. No reservations are needed.

Cost to attend is $5 for members and $10 for non-members. World Affairs Council of West Michigan’s educational partners and corporate members attend free, as do students, faculty and staff of the schools listed above. Participating colleges include Aquinas College, Davenport University, Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Ferris State University, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Montcalm Community College and WMU.

Tickets are available at the door. Discounted parking at the Fifth Third Bank Building is available for the Tuesday sessions.

The World Affairs Council is the local sponsor of these four current foreign policy topics as determined by the New York City-based Foreign Policy Association. The Council has sponsored similar series for more than 50 years.

For more information on the event, visit or contact 616.776.1721.

About The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan
The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, the largest Council in Michigan, is a non-partisan, non-advocacy, non-profit educational organization. With 50 member companies and over 1200 members, the Council is considered one of the best 100 Councils nationwide. It is a member of the World Affairs Councils of America, the largest grassroots organization in the United States whose entire focus is on international and U.S. foreign policy issues. For more information visit or

Mary Ann Sabo
Phone: 6164851432

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