The full series began 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 – 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.

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 – 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.


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.

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

Visit the Foreign Policy Association website for more information.