Welcome to the second half of our 2016-2017 Program Year. Comparing attendance at our first two speaker events in 2017, we are more interested in what is going on in China than we are about food which speaks volumes about our interest in what the rest of the world is doing, politically, economically and militarily.
Our next three presentation topics reflect the impact the impact of our recent election/inaugural. Truth be told, in all three cases these presentations were booked before the election but we did tweak the topics following the results. March continues our calendar juggling with three presentations instead of our normal two, so make sure your personal calendars are adjusted accordingly. We will start March with Mikhail Troitskiy, from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and we are anticipating a large audience so you should plan accordingly for good seating. We have invited our Academic World Quest Teams for this event and a luncheon to follow.
The Program Committee has filled out the season with Charles Bierbauer speaking on How Media Affects the Formation and Execution of Foreign Policy certainly a timely topic in this age of social media, alternative facts, and fake news. This will be our final one for the 2016-2017 Program Year and will be on May 12, which is different than our normal first and third Fridays so you have another calendar update.
The Program Committee has gotten off to a fast and daring start to the 2017-2018 Program Year with five speakers booked already (fast) and Ambassador James Jeffrey booked for November 3 (daring). If you remember, we scheduled him in early 2016 only to be frustrated by a major snowstorm in Washington, DC and then again as our opening speaker in October but Hurricane Matthew came instead. We think we are safe in that it is too early for snow in DC and it is after the end of official hurricane season here but keep your fingers crossed just in case.
Fall Forum was successfully completed in January with a couple of firsts to its credit. They started with a joint session speaker presentation on How Foreign Policy is Formulated, and then evolved into their respective discussion groups. Fall Forum participation is now up to three discussion groups, one of which was conducted off-island. The Committee is now in their After-Action Review following which they will begin planning for next Fall.
Great Decisions Discussion Groups kicked off recently with strong member participation and following the lead of the Fall Forum, is conducting one group off-island. Over a five-year period, this program has grown substantially from two discussion groups in the Spring to four in the Spring and one in the fall for new members. We hope more people take advantage of this great educational opportunity.
The Evening Speaker Series kicked off in January with Maria Berliner’s presentation on Latin America. If you did not sign up for the series, there is an opportunity to attend individual sessions over the next three months so check out future presentations for the opportunity to join us.
Lee J. Wilwerding
President, World Affairs Council Hilton Head