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The full series begins on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 for eight weeks.

8 week Series, Wednesdays, Feb. 4—March 25 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.         Kirkland Village Auditorium, One Kirkland Circle, Bethlehem PA 18017

Feb. 4 – Russia and the Near Abroad, Professor Luba Iskold, Professor of Russian, Muhlenberg College

If Putin’s Russia isn’t afraid to take an aggressive stance against Europeanization in Ukraine, what does that mean for the rest of Russia’s neighbors?

Feb. 11Privacy in the Digital Age, Charlie Russell, Systems Analyst at TASC, Advisory Services Provider to Government & Industry     

Is privacy as we know it long dead? U.S.’s unwarranted privacy intrusions have compelled other countries to revamp their privacy protections.

Feb. 18 – Sectarianism in the Middle East, Professor Chaim Kauffman, International Relations, Lehigh Univeristy

The conflicts caused by the politicization of ethnic and religious identity cause tensions between Iraq and in Syria; Iran and Saudi Arabia;  Sunnis and Shi‘ites.  Many roots are political, not religious. What can the U.S. do about them?

Feb. 25 – India Changes Course – Prabhat Kumar, Program Manager, Indian American Association of the Lehigh Valley

Fed up with corruption, dynastic policies and ineffective public services, Indian voters catapulted Narenda Modi  into power. How does the U.S. secure its interests in the light    of unknowns in India?

March 4 – U.S. Policy Toward Africa, Lars Benson, Sr. Program Officer, Africa CIPE

Home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world,  Africa has become a draw for foreign investors. The U.S. promised to promote “strong institutions, not strong men,” and healthy economies over profit. How can U.S. policy work?

March 11 – Syria’s Refugee Crisis, Very Reverend Father Anthony Sabbagh, Pastor, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Allentown, PA

Because of its civil war, Syrians are becoming the world’s largest refugee population. Will  Syrians become dependent on emergency aid? Ultimately, the safety of the displaced Syrians rests with the whole international community.

March 18 – Human Trafficking in the 21st Century, Linda Brownback, M.A. VAST,  The Valley Against Sex Trafficking

The U.S, as a leading human trafficking importer, needs to combat this multibillion dollar industry. The U.S. and other countries have laws to prevent it,  but they must  eliminate the root causes .

March 25 – Brazil’s Metamorphosis, John Zemko, Regional Director for Latin America, CIPE

After economic troubles in the 1990s, Brazil has risen to new prominence by working on global issues ranging from climate change to peacekeeping. But deep divisions over income inequality, weak civic institutions and poor regional leadership have held it back.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series promotes citizen awareness about timely foreign policy issues.  The purpose of the series, which is sponsored by the YWCA of Bethlehem, is to educate members about important issues relating to American foreign policy and to enable the community to participate in the foreign policy process.  We partner with the private, non-partisan Foreign Policy Association (FPA) in New York City, the oldest and largest grassroots educational program on world affairs reaching 880 cities and 350,000 members.  The FPA selects eight topics each year and chooses experts to write for the 100-page Great Decisions Briefing Book.  This book is included with registration and will be available in January 2015.

The Bethlehem Great Decisions group is the only Great Decision group in the Lehigh Valley.  Lectures run for eight Wednesdays in winter, at 10:30 a.m. at Kirkland Village in Bethlehem, PA and feature local experts.  Following each lecture is a Q&A session.

Fees for the Great Decisions Lecture Series are:

YWCA Members:
$65 with one book
$85 for Couple, with one book

Non-YWCA Members:
$90 with one book
$105 for Couple, with one book

Walk-in Single Lecture – $10, no book

Students – No charge with valid I.D.

For more information on the series please contact the YWCA of Bethlehem at   (610) 867-4669, ext. 101 or e-mail adminassist@ywcabethlehem.org.

Visit the Foreign Policy Association website for more information.


The Great Decisions Lecture series is held at Kirkland Village, located at 1 Kirkland Village Circle, Bethlehem, PA 18017. However, we ask that you park in the back of the First Presbyterian Church, located next door to Kirkland Village.

PLEASE follow these directions to the First Presbyterian Church on Center St., park in the back of their lot and walk through to Kirkland Village.   

From the south (e.g., Quakertown, Pa.) – Follow 309 north to 378 (Center Valley). Follow 378 over the top of a mountain and into Bethlehem. At the north end of the bridge that crosses the Lehigh River, turn right onto the ramp that leads to Main Street. Proceed seven blocks and turn right onto Union Boulevard. Proceed several blocks to Center Street. Turn left onto Center Street and proceed north to the church at 2344 Center Street. The church is on the right at the top of a hill. Turn right into the “Enter” driveway and follow signs to parking facilities.

From the west (e.g., Allentown, Pa.) – Follow 22 east until you reach the exit at 512, Center Street. (There is only one exit at 512 traveling east.) At the end of the exit ramp turn left onto Center Street. Follow Center Street southbound past traffic lights at Johnston Drive and Macada Road and proceed to the top of a hill. The church is on the left. Turn left into the “Enter” driveway and follow signs to parking facilities.

From the east (e.g., Easton, Pa.) – Follow 22 west until you reach the exit at 512, Center Street. (There is only one exit at 512 traveling west.) At the end of the exit ramp turn left onto Center Street. Follow Center Street southbound past traffic lights at Johnston Drive and Macada Road and proceed to the top of a hill. The church is on the left. Turn left into the “Enter” driveway and follow signs to parking facilities.

From the north (e.g., Stroudsburg, Pa.) – Follow 33 south until it intersects with 22. Proceed west on 22 and follow the directions that pertain to an approach from the east.


The 2013-2014 Great Decisions Committee Members are:

Mary Beebe, Chair
Retired, Teacher

Paul Acampora
Director of Development & Scholarships
Northampton Community College

Ed Donley
Retired, CEO
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

Stewart Early
President,
Management Consulting Services

Dr. Thomas Eighmy, Ph.D.
Retired, Foreign Services Officer

Elaine Molnar
Retired, Women’s Program Director

Joseph O’Keefe
Retired Attorney, Bethlehem Steel Corporation

Carey Patterson
Retired, Adjunct Professor
Northampton County Community College/Cedar Crest College

James West, Ph.D.
Professor,
Moravian College

Sharon Zondag
Executive Director, The R. K. Laros Foundation

Michelle Chrin, Ex-Officio

Mahboobeh Shekari, YWCA Staff Liaison
Director of Finance and Administration
YWCA of Bethlehem

For information on joining the Great Decisions Committee or for more information about the program, please contact the YWCA of Bethlehem at (610) 867-4669, ext. 101.