Great Decisions
Educating young people about world events
Luncheon Lectures
Berks Cable TV Show
Archive 2014-2015
Thursday, December 31st 2015

1/8/14 Dr. Solmon Lausch - Education: Keeping Things in Perspective

2/12/14 Wilfred Muskens - NAFTA - 20 Years Later
Click HERE to see Part 1 of this presentation on line.
Click HERE to see Part 2 of this presentation on line.

3/13/14 Molly Williamson - The Geopolitics of Petroleum-US Shale and     Foreign Policy Implications

4/9/14 Eva Horelova - Emergence of the E.U. Role in the World: It's Economic, Poitical, and Foreign Policy Implications

5/14/14 Edward J. Hartung - Cybersecurity

6/11/14 Robert Musil, Ph.D. - Women and the Global Environment: From Rachel Carson to Today

9/10/14 Randell Newnham, Ph.D. - Crisis in the Ukraine

10/8/14 Peter D. Barbey - The Impact of Global Unrest on Media Reporting
Click HERE to see this presentation on line.

11/12/14 Frank Farrokh Sabouri - Iran
Click HERE to see this presentation on line.

12/10/14 Ben Dalton - Covering Global Conflict from the Ground
Click HERE to see this presentation on line.

1/14/15  Dr. Kerwin Shaffer  U.S. Cuba Ties
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

2/11/15  Dr. Oya Dursun-Ozkanca  Turkey Today

3/11/15  Linda Maizels, Ph.D.  Israel:Prospects for Peace in the Middle East
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

4/10/15  Dr. Susan Martin  U.S. Immigration Policy
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

5/13/15  Dr. Michael Barry  Afghanistan
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

6/3/15  Molly Williamson  Global Energy Security
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

9/9/15  Robert L. Grenier  Counterinsurgency Issues
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

10/14/15  Metodija Koloski  The American Case for Macedonia
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

11/11/15  Dr. Donald Lee  Update on U.N. Millennium Goals
Click HERE to see this presentation on line. 

12/9/15  Carol Jenkins  The Power of Education to Change Lives Globally

Click HERE to see this presentation on line.  

Great Decisions Discussion Groups
Monday, January 1st 2018

Great Decisions 2018

Great Decisions discussion groups for 2018 will be starting at various times after January 1, 2018. 

For information and starting times, contact the following:

  • Heritage of Green Hills - contact Cheryl Anderson at 484-269-5145
  • The Highlands at Wyomissing - contact Shirley Riegel-Ferreri at 484-628-7664. Sessons running weekly at 10:00 AM March 7 - April 25.
  • Jewish Community Center - contact Amanda Hornberger at 610-921-0624. Sessions running weekly at 10:00 AM March 5 - April 23.
  • Lititz Group - contact Steve Franz at 717-656-0353
  • Phoebe Berks Village - contact Carol Orts at 610-927-3412. Sessions running weekly at 2:00 PM starting February 6.
  • Wyomissing Library - contact Colleen Stamm at 610-374-4304. 

Discussion topics for 2018 are:

  • The waning of Pax Americana?
  • Russia’s foreign policy
  • China and America: the new geopolitical equation
  • Media and foreign policy
  • Turkey: a partner in crisis
  • U.S. global engagement and the military
  • South Africa’s fragile democracy
  • Global health: progress and challenges


Breakfast Meeting
Tuesday, February 13th 2018

Reservatons: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dr. Nina Kollars

War and Technology

Sponsored by Sam Dalal

Dr. Nina Kollars is Assistant Professor of Government at Franklin & Marshall College. As a graduate of Ohio State University’s Department of Political Science, Kollars’ most recently published research has been featured in Security Studies, Journal of Strategic Studies, & Survival. Central themes in her work are innovation, adaptation, and organizational design. She is currently working on a book manuscript that focuses on the efforts of war practitioners and organizational responses to their insights and creativity. She is a non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point Military Academy, a member of the Committee for the Analysis of Military Operations and Strategy, an editorial board member of the Special Operations Journal and a committed professor to her students. Before entering academia, Kollars completed analyses for the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress and the World Bank. 

Breakfast Meeting
Wednesday, February 21st 2018

Breakfast Meeting - 7:30 AM - Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dr. Solomon Lausch

The Peace Corps: JFK to Today

Dr. Lausch will review the history of the Peace Corps since its establishment in 1961 by executive order of President John F. Kennedy.  A panel of returned Peace Corps volunteers, Solomon Lausch, Carla and Michael Mannix, and Alexa Tyler Bordner, representing respectively the first decade, the middle years, and the recent years of Peace Corps activity around the world will present their perspectives and anecdotal accounts of their years of service.  The program will conclude with an engaging Question and Answer session with the audience.

Dr. Lausch is well known to all of us as a member of the board of directors of our World Affairs Council, as executive director of Berks Business Education Coalition (BBEC) and as past superintendant of the Schuylkill Valley School District.

Dr. Lausch began his professional career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Micronesia, teaching English as a second language.

Breakfast Meeting
Thursday, March 8th 2018

Breakfast Meeting - 7:30 AM - INN AT READING
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

International Women's Day Program featuring Susan Markham - USAID

How the Untapped Power of Women and Girls Can End World Poverty

Susan Markham is a passionate advocate for gender equality and female empowerment speaking often about the essential role of women in politics and development. With experience in over 50 countries, she is a strategic leader who is appreciated for her energy, straight talk and insight, connecting academics, activists, implementers and ideas across sectors.

Susan most recently served at the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID) as the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. In this position, she advised Agency leadership on gender policy issues, led cross-sectoral program efforts in resilience, adolescent girls’ education and energy, and represented the Agency to the White House and other departments, governments, civil society organizations and private partners. Previously, she led the efforts of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) a non-partisan organization, to increase women’s political participation globally as voters, activists, candidates and officeholders. In this role, she was especially proud of her work in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen to help women find and use their voices in their countries.

Susan worked earlier in her career in U.S. politics bringing to life her Master’s thesis that focused on women running for political office. At EMILY’s List, she ran the Political Opportunity Program (POP) that recruited, trained and supported women running for office at the state and local office. She also managed the Campaign Corps program that brought young people into the political process to engage them in elections. 

Susan now works and lives in Washington, DC with her family and two dogs. She’s earned degrees from George Washington University (Master’s of Arts) and THE Ohio State University (Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and International Studies), but looks forward to learning new things every day. 

Luncheon Meeting
Wednesday, March 14th 2018

Luncheon Meeting - 12:00 Noon - Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dr. Joseph Braude

Broadcasting Change: Arabic Media as a Catalyst for Change

Joseph Braude, a Senior Fellow with FPRI’s Program on the Middle East, is a Middle East scholar and author whose research appears in print and on air, in Arabic as well as English. He studied in the departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale and Near Eastern Studies at Princeton. He developed his Arabic to broadcast quality through years of living and working in the Gulf states and North Africa, and added fluency in Farsi to his knowledge of Persian literature as a graduate student at the University of Tehran.

His first book, The New Iraq (Basic Books, 2003), examines the challenge of civil society development in the country following the US-led invasion. His second, The Honored Dead (Random House – Spiegel & Grau, 2011), presents an unprecedented investigation of the inner workings of an Arab security service: Braude was embedded for half a year in an investigative unit of the Moroccan federal police in Casablanca, where he read case files, attended interrogations, and accompanied police on nighttime forays into the shantytown.

Since July 2010, Joseph Braude’s weekly program in Arabic, Risalat New York (Letter from New York), has aired nationally on Morocco’s MED Radio. He appears frequently as a commentator on Al-Arabiya and other satellite television networks. He writes a biweekly column in Al-Majalla, the largest-distribution magazine in the Arabic language, and contributes regularly to the daily newspaper Asharq Alawsat. In the United States, he has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The American Interest, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. He provides commentary on public radio programs, and produces documentaries on current affairs in the Middle East for PRI’s America Abroad. He hosts the English-language podcast Eye on Arabia, a light-hearted roundup of reporting and analysis from the Arab world. He is also a contributing editor at Tablet.

Joseph Braude is Advisor at the Al-Mesbar Studies and Research Center in Dubai, a think tank specializing in Islamist movements across the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to leading seminars and contributing research to its monthly book, he conducts outreach on behalf of the Center in the United States and elsewhere.

As a consulting advisor, Joseph Braude has assisted non-profit groups, government, and private companies in matters related to Middle East policy, public diplomacy, security sector reform, and counterterrorism. He has worked with the United States Agency for International Development, the US State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, and Pyramid Research.

Luncheon Meeting
Wednesday, April 18th 2018

Luncheon Meeting - 12:00 Noon - Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Thomas Wright

The Contest for the 21st Century and the Future of American Power

Sponsored by:
YMCA Diversity, Inclusion & Global Committee

Thomas Wright the director of the Center on the United States and Europe and a fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution. He is also a nonresident fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Previously, he was executive director of studies at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a lecturer at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and senior researcher for the Princeton Project on National Security.

Wright works on U.S. foreign policy and grand strategy, Donald Trump's worldview, the future of Europe, and Asian security. His book “All Measures Short of War: The Contest For the 21st Century and Future of American Power” was published by Yale University Press in 2017.

Wright has a doctorate from Georgetown University, a Master of Philosophy from Cambridge University, and a bachelor's and master's from University College Dublin. He has also held a pre-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a post doctoral fellowship at Princeton University. Wright's writings have appeared in the American Political Science Review, Orbis, Survival, The Washington Quarterly, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and The Washington Post, as well as a number of international newspapers and media outlets.

Wright’s affiliations include the Fulbright Commission, Ireland, vice chair and board member International Politics Reviews, Palgrave Macmillan, editorial board.

Breakfast Meeting
Wednesday, April 25th 2018

Breakfast Meeting - 7:30 AM - Wyomissing Restaurant and Bakery
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dr. Stepanka Magstadt

Human Trafficking

A migration historian educated in the U.K., the United States, and the Czech Republic, she is currently teaching courses dealing with Global Human Trafficking, Sex Trafficking and Domestic Violence she developed. Stepanka is the Director of the Center for the Study of Human Trafficking in South-Central Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on identifying vulnerabilities to Sex Trafficking and Domestic Violence.



Luncheon Meeting
Wednesday, May 9th 2018

Luncheon Meeting - 12:00 Noon - Inn at Reading
Reservations: Call 610-375-7880 or Email

Dr. Tara O

North Korea

Dr. Tara O is an Adjunct Fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS. She is the author of The Collapse of North Korea: Challenges, Planning, and Geopolitics of Unification. She serves on the board of directors of the International Council on Korean Studies and was the editor-in-chief of its journal International Journal of Korean Studies (IJKS). A retired Air Force officer, she worked on national security, intelligence, alliance, and political-military issues at the Pentagon, the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea, and the U.S. European Command, as well as intelligence agencies. She also worked counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and satellite issues. She worked in a variety of capacities, including analysis, liaison, and leadership.

As a professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, she taught strategy and military operations. She was a faculty researcher at the Institute of National Security Studies. Her research areas include the Korean contingency and unification, U.S. alliance relationships in Asia, human rights in North Korea, and the social integration of North Korean defectors.

Prior to the military, she also worked in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, including the U.S. Agency for International Development in Nairobi, Kenya, working on drought assessment and food aid; the Asia Foundation in Bangkok, Thailand and Vientiane, Laos, assisting the Laos Central Bank as it transitioned from a centrally-planned to a market-oriented economy; Bank of America, managing syndicated loans to Latin America; the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, assessing potential global flash points; and the United Nations Association of the USA in New York,analyzing international economic institutions.

She holds a BA in International Relations from the University of California at Davis, an MPA in Public Policy and International Affairs from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Texas at Austin.