Great Decisions

What is Great Decisions?

Great Decisions is a national program of the Foreign Policy Association (FPA). In North Carolina, the Office of International Programs at UNC Charlotte is the state coordinator. Great Decisions is the largest non-partisan citizen education effort of its kind and has provided quality information and tools for over fifty years.

Each year, the Foreign Policy Association publishes a Great Decisions Briefing Book. The book highlights eight of the year’s most significant foreign policy issues. The book provides facts, charts, and nonpartisan analysis of the “great decisions” facing the U.S. public and policy makers. Maps, online services and other resources are available to complement programs. In addition, a DVD series and Teacher’s Guide are available for purchase on the Foreign Policy Association’s website.

What are the FPA topics for 2023?

  1. Energy Geopolitics
  2. War Crimes
  3. China and the U.S.
  4. Economic Warfare
  5. Politics in Latin America
  6. Global Famine
  7. Iran and Crossroads
  8. Climate Migration

What is the Charlotte Lecture Series?

The Office of International Programs at UNC Charlotte coordinates a local community lecture series annually. The Charlotte Great Decisions Lecture Series consists of five weekly sessions and is an opportunity for citizens to meet, discuss and learn about some of the issues facing our world. Each week a local expert from UNC Charlotte or nearby colleges and universities provides additional perspective on the topic of interest and answers questions regarding the information presented in the Briefing Book and through the lecture. A registration form is available below.

Date, Time, and Location

All lectures will be held in a hybrid format (virtual and in person) from 6:30 pm – 8 pm at the The Dubois Center at UNC Charlotte Center City, 320, E. 9th street, Charlotte (in person), unless otherwise noted. You may register for in person or hybrid using the registration form below.

Wednesday, January 25 “Politics in Latin America”

Greg Weeks, Ph.D., Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UNC Charlotte

(Co-sponsored by Charlotte Sister Cities)

Political trends in Latin America are often labeled as “left” or “right.” These categories help us to some degree, but reality is much messier. Instead, it’s more useful to think about how voters want results, and punish incumbents that do not provide them.


Tuesday, January 31 “Energy Geopolitics”
Peter Schwarz, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Economics, UNC Charlotte

(Co-sponsored by Charlotte Country Day School)
“Energy security and Geopolitics” – The year 2022 upended energy geopolitics, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine using energy as a weapon by threatening to withhold oil and natural gas supplies from the EU, along with attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, with large parts of Ukraine doing without heat and electricity. At the same time, climate change continued to be on the front-burner, with the U.S. passing the Inflation Reduction Act, more accurately an act to accelerate carbon-free renewable energy. There is a conflict between the need to find new sources of fossil fuels while trying to reduce greenhouse gasses. The balancing act requires consideration of benefits and costs of continued use of fossil fuels while accelerating the use of renewables.

*Held at the Charlotte Country Day School, 1440 Carmel Rd, Charlotte, NC 28226

Wednesday, February 8 “War Crimes”
John Cox, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Global Studies, UNC Charlotte

(Co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Charlotte)

What precisely constitutes a war crime? Who decides how to define them, and how can they be prosecuted or prevented? Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine raised these questions anew, as news emerged of horrifying crimes against humanity. Sadly, though, war crimes have existed for as long as war has existed. Dr. Cox, director of UNC Charlotte’s Holocaust-studies center, will discuss the evolution of modern war–which has greatly increased the numbers of civilian casualties–and of legal efforts to combat this scourge. Dr. Cox is currently engaged in a research project that examines US crimes in Vietnam, and the surprising resistance to these crimes that was organized by American troops and veterans.

Wednesday, February 15 “Climate Migration”
Kristina Shull, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History, UNC Charlotte

(Co-sponsored by the International House of Charlotte)

Despite widespread acknowledgement of the growing global connections between climate change and migration, there are currently no legal protections in international or US law for people displaced by climate change. Who might be considered climate refugees, and who is responsible for welcoming them? This presentation explores historical, political, and ethical issues surrounding climate migration by foregrounding the shared experiences–and knowledge–of people around the world who have been most impacted by a changed, and changing environment.

Wednesday, February 22 “Global Famine”
Colleen Hammelman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, UNC Charlotte

World hunger has galvanized public attention and policymakers for centuries. While significant political, economic, and technological advances have been made such that the worst cases of widespread hunger (famine) are much less common today; there remain significant, and growing, rates of food insecure people worldwide. Recent geopolitical and environmental challenges are exacerbating hunger and creating new potential for famine. Drawing on the speaker’s 10+ years of food systems research, this lecture will examine contemporary drivers of hunger and famine and ongoing challenges to meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030. It will also share current political, economic and technological responses, and innovative solutions that are being pursued worldwide. Famine and world hunger are long- standing and systemic challenges, but significant and promising interventions are being implemented worldwide.

Cost Information

Lectures are free. Great Decisions Briefing Books will not be available onsite. If you are interested in purchasing a book, please do so online at the Foreign Policy Association’s website.


Please submit the registration form for Great Decisions 2023.

Evaluation and Feedback

The online evaluation form for the 2023 lectures will open shortly.

For further questions or information, please send an email to


The Great Decisions lecture series, offered by the Office of International Programs at UNC Charlotte, is co-sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, Charlotte Country Day School, Charlotte Sister Cities, and the International House of Charlotte.