Prior Great Decisions Programs 2013-2020

Prior Great Decisions Programs 2013-2020

All Fearrington GREAT DECISIONS programs are free and open to all Fearrington and Galloway Ridge residents and their guests. 

 2019 – 2020 Programs

2019 Fall Programs: September 12, October 10, November 14, December 12

2020 Winter & Spring Programs: January 09, February 13, March 12, April 09, and May 14 

Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Programming Was Temporarily Suspended After the January 2020 Speaker and Will Be Resumed on September 08, 2022.

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Each current month’s program will be displayed first on this page. After that program has been held, the next one will take its place at the top and the most recently completed one will move to the bottom of the list; therefore, this page will always feature information for the current program year. Program details for the prior seasons (2005 – 2011) can be found on the Prior Programs tab.

Our 2019-2020 Series Programs / Season No. 15

[Completed Program] — Program No. 122 since 2005] Thursday, September 12, 2019 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: George Lankevich, Professor Emeritus of History, City University of New York. Topic:  “The Political Supreme Court? Right, Left, or in the Middle.” A popular speaker, Fearrington resident, and author of over 30 books, George’s programs always spark enthusiastic discussions!

First (completed) program in the current 2019-2020 series. Attendance = 120

Program Description: The Court, famously described by Alexander Hamilton as the “least dangerous branch” of the government, has over the last quarter-century achieved increasing prominence in American life and politics. Controversies regarding the Court include battles over nominations, enduring conflicts of judicial philosophy, and many life-changing decisions. For good or ill, the Supremes are the sages who define the legal parameters of American society. George will summarize the current key components of the raging debate over whether that future will be sharply politically Right, Left, or in the Middle.

Few Americans would deny that the Supreme Court now occupies a more formidable place in the national psyche than in the past or that the decisions it issues are milestones as the nation moves into the twenty-first century. Whether their decisions are seen as “dangerous” or benign, their determinations are final, at least until the next case. This talk will assess the tumultuous history of the recent Court and its changing relationship to the people it serves.

Wes J Bryant pic 300 width 2[Completed Program] Program No. 123 since 2005] Thursday, October 10, 2019 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Wes J. Bryant,  Co-author of Hunting the Caliphate. TOPIC:  “Hunting the Caliphate: America’s War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell.”

Second (completed) program in the current 2019-2020 series. Attendance = 52

Wes Bryant retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2018 at the rank of Master Sergeant. In 2014, as a senior Special Operations Forces Tactical Air Control Party-Joint Terminal Attack Controller (SOF TACP-JTAC), he was part of the elite special operations task force chosen to secure Baghdad and northern Iraq against the newly emerged threat of ISIS.

The American Philosopher publishes hand-picked works from Wes J. Bryant—author, special operations veteran, amateur philosopher, and martial artist. To see examples of interviews and videos that feature him, visit his profile on their website.

Wes delves into anything from the sociopolitical and religious to the joys and hardships of life and family. Sometimes lighthearted, sometimes intense—in all cases hoping to stoke thought-provoking ideas and perceptions on things both common and extraordinary, and to promote the increasingly endangered phenomenon of critical thinking.

Embedded with Special Forces teams under a Navy SEAL task force, Wes was the tactical lead for a contingent of special operations JTACs to first set foot in Iraq to stop ISIS. As the senior enlisted JTAC to establish the BIAP Strike Cell, Bryant coordinated and controlled the first airstrikes against ISIS in the Baghdad region. He later deployed as the senior Special Tactics JTAC for special operations task forces hunting ISIS in Syria and Afghanistan.

Hunting the Caliphate is a vivid, first-person account from two vastly differing but converging perspectives. See through the eyes of the senior enlisted special operations Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) who coordinated and controlled the first airstrikes against ISIS in Baghdad then went on to hunt ISIS across Syria and Afghanistan in the years to follow, and enter the strategic mind of the commanding general who initiated and led the campaign against ISIS in Iraq.

Be entertained, be riveted, and become enlightened as you learn the truth about how America’s war against ISIS began, how it has really been fought, and what steps need to be taken to ensure the final defeat of the Islamic State and its terrorist networks.

Wes earned a bachelor’s in Asian Studies from the University of Maryland University College. He currently pursues writing and editing and teaches Chinese Kung Fu and Tai Chi in North Carolina where he lives with his wife, Katie, and their two daughters.

[Completed Program] — Program No. 124 since 2005] Thursday, November 14, 2019 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker:  Dr. Jenifer Bremer, Director of the North Carolina League of Women Voters Fair Elections Action Team (FEAT).  TOPIC:  “Redistricting in North Carolina: Reform of the Redistricting Process.” 

Dr. Bremer specializes in public governance reform.  She will discuss creating fair maps through reform of North Carolina’s redistricting process.  Current maps have been declared unconstitutional numerous times, costing our state millions of dollars.  The League believes that elected officials should not choose their voters but, rather, that the voters should choose their elected officials.

[Completed Program] [Program No. 125 since 2005] Thursday, December 12, 2019 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker:  Dr. Matthew Runci, Former CEO of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Silversmiths of America.  TOPIC:  “Blood Diamonds: The Quest for an Ethical Alternative.”  

 Years before theLeonardo DiCaprio film, Blood Diamond, attracted the public’s attention, the destructive consequences of the diamond trade were well known to governments. Illicit trade financed a large portion of extraordinarily violent civil wars and other conflicts in West Africa, and their mining often took place under brutal conditions. As CEO of Jewelers of America Dr. Runci led an international effort to address the conflict diamond challenge, spearheading an effort to secure passage of the Clean Diamond Trade Act. His experience promoting ethical business practices and corporate responsibility remain relevant today as consumers demand greater transparency regarding working conditions and human suffering in the manufacture of products marketed in the United States.

 Harry Dunphy[Completed Program] [Program No. 126 since 2005Thursday, January 9, 2020 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Harry DunphyReporting the News: From Cairo, Paris and Moscow to Twitter and Instagram 

Fearrington resident Harry Dunphy is the former AP Bureau Chief in Moscow and Paris. Before the birth of 24 hour cable news and instant online access to world events, there were men and women who lived in the world’s capitals, learned the languages and the customs of the people with whom they lived and reported the news with a cultural perspective rare among today’s reporters. Mr. Dunphy was the longest serving Associated Press staffer when he retired in 2016. Drawing upon a half century of living in and reporting from major world capitals, Harry will share his unique perspective on the evolution of news reporting. Are we better informed by 24 hour news broadcasts or merely addicted to the constant stimulation of breaking news?  (attendance, 137)

Pearson[Completed Program] [Program No. 127 since 2005] Thursday, February 13, 2020 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Ambassador (ret.) W. Robert Pearson — a  non-resident scholar at The Middle East Institute.  He focuses on Turkey with particular emphasis on U.S.-Turkey relations.  Other areas of interest include Turkey’s relations with the EU, Russia, the Middle East, and Central and East Asia.

Ambassador Pearson is a retired professional Foreign Service officer who served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 2000 to 2003.  He has published numerous articles, blogs and opinion pieces on diplomacy, foreign policy, Turkey, NGOs, and development. He has appeared on BBC, CNBC, NPR, Al-Jazeera, I24 TV, TNT Global and other networks. He is a frequent speaker on issues concerning Turkey, international development and the role of diplomacy in American engagement abroad. (attendance, 105)

Our 2018-2019 Series / Season No. 14

Cori Dauber photo[Completed: Program No. 116 since 2005] Thursday, September 13, 2018  1:30 PM in The Gathering Place.  Season Opener Speaker: Cori E. Dauber, Ph.D., Professor of Communication UNC-Chapel Hill and Research Fellow at the Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS). Topic: “Terrorist Propaganda In The Online Space.” Dr. Dauber will discuss what makes their materials so effective, and the methods UNC’s research team is developing to analyze them.

First (completed) program in the current 2018-2019 series. Attendance = 67

Prof. Dauber was formerly a visiting Research Professor at the US Army War College and has presented her work to the Center on Foreign Relations, US Special Operations Command, US Army Special Operations Command, and the NATO Communications Conference among others. The so-called “Islamic States” has been a more successful recruiter than any terrorist group in history, enticing as many as 40,000 men and women to leave home to join the “Caliphate.” Their recruiting materials are slick, well produced, visually interesting, and carefully designed to mimic movies and video games familiar to young people anywhere and everywhere. The destruction of the physical “Caliphate” has not stopped their production and distribution of this propaganda – and other groups have begun to systematically copy their materials.

demichele matthew wide 510[POSTPONED due to T.S. Michael and to be Rescheduled] Thursday, October 11, 2018  1:30 PM in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Matthew DeMichele, Ph.D., Senior Research Sociologist, Center for Justice, Safety, and Resilience at RTI International (Research Triangle Institute) in Durham, NC. Theme: Life History Research on Former Members of Hate Organizations: Identifying Paths Into and Out of Racial and Political Extremism.

Dr. DeMichele performs research for local, state, and federal governments and private foundations using quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate complex problems facing criminal justice systems within the United States and abroad. His research interests include criminology, corrections, risk assessment, program evaluation, and terrorism/extremism. He conducts research for local, state, and federal governments and for private foundations.

He is currently leading a research project to understand the pathways into and out of extremist hate groups with the focus on identifying policy gaps that could be used to develop prevention and intervention strategies. Such research work into what makes people more susceptible to joining a white supremacy organization, how individuals enter such hate groups, and how they unlearn hate and re-enter society is an excellent follow-up to themes presented by Dr. Cori Dauber’s presentation last month, which was focused on “Terrorist Propaganda In The Online Space.” We are very fortunate that he was able to accept our invitation to speak.

Dr. DeMichele has published numerous government reports, policy essays, technical and training materials, as well several peer-reviewed publications that have appeared in Crime and Delinquency, Criminology and Public Policy, and the American Sociological Review.

Gael.LeBris.Photo[Completed: Program No. 117 since 2005Thursday, November 08, 2018  1:30 PM in The Gathering Place.  Speaker: Gaël Le Bris, C.M. Engineer, Senior Aviation Planner, Technical Principal, WSP USA – Raleigh / Topic: “Emerging Modes of Transportation: What Might Mobility and Freight Look Like in 2050?”

Second (completed) program in the current 2018-2019 series. Attendance = 37

Gaël Le Bris’ experience includes airport planning and engineering projects in the United States and abroad. He was formerly the Airside Development Manager at Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport, France. He has been chosen as one of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 winners of Airport Business magazine.

He serves on various committees and project panels of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), which promotes innovation and progress in transportation through research to facilitate the sharing of information on transportation practice and policy by researchers and practitioners. He is a participating member of the Airport Consultants Council and The French-Speaking Airports, and he has authored several articles and publications in aviation.

Founded in 1885, WSP USA (formerly Parsons Brinkerhoff) is a leading firm in transportation planning and engineering. WSP’s professionals have planned, designed and managed the construction of some of the most iconic high-rise buildings, bridges, highways, tunnels and transit and rail systems across the United States. Some of their most notable projects include the redevelopment of LaGuardia airport and the iconic One World Trade Center in New York City.

About the Talk:  30 years ago, few or none prophesized the advent of Uber, Lyft and other Transportation Network Companies (TNC). Nevertheless, they changed urban mobility and the market of on-demand transportation. Today, innovating startups and ambitious entrepreneurs promise a new world of mobility made of autonomous vehicles underground, on the road, in the air and even in space. Are these Hyperloop and other Zunum a key of our future? Can these new technologies really bloom? During this session, the audience will explore the emerging modes of transportation that could revolutionize the future of mobility and freight and learn about their potential benefits for society, their impacts on our local communities, and their implications in terms of funding, policies, and regulations with 2050 as a horizon of discussion.

Thursday, December 13, 2018 1:30 PM in The Gathering Place. [Rescheduled to March 14, 2019 at the REQUEST OF THE SPEAKER to accommodate his exam and course grading schedules changes caused by the December 2018 snowstorm.]

william boettcher

[Completed: Program No. 118 since 2005Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:30 PM in The Gathering Place. Speaker: William A. Boettcher, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Political Science in the School of Public and International Affairs at NCSU. Topic: “Negotiating Denuclearization with North Korea: Prospects for Peace on the Peninsula.”

Third (completed) program in the current 2018-2019 series. Attendance = 73

Dr. Boettcher will discuss the current status of these negotiations, independent efforts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, developments in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions by regional actors. Particular attention will be paid to the role of China, Russia, and Japan in supporting and/or opposing these efforts.

Prof. Boettcher is an Executive Board member of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS) and works with John Mattingly in Nuclear Engineering to manage the TISS Energy and Security Initiative (ESI). They organize panels and public talks, host a luncheon series, and coordinate research conferences on the nexus between energy and security domains. His most recent work examines the state of nuclear cooperation between the US and The Republic of Korea (ROK).

Prof. Boettcher has authored “Presidential Risk Behavior in Foreign Policy: Prudence or Peril” and articles in the Journal of Conflict ResolutionJournal of Political Psychology, and Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

Arne Kalleberg[Completed Program #119 since 2005] Thursday, February 14, 2019 1:30 PM in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Prof. Arne Kalleberg, Ph.D., Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Topic: “Precarious Lives: Job Insecurity and Well-Being in Rich Democracies.”

Prof. Dr. Kalleberg also holds Adjunct Professorships in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, the Department of Public Policy, and the Curriculum in Global Studies. He is the Editor of Social Forces, an International Journal of Social Research and a former President (2007-2008) of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

Prof. Kalleberg has focused on major policy matters affecting national and global realms and conducted extensive research on work and the labor force, social stratification, economy and society, and especially the effects of organizational structures and human resource practices affecting the lives of employees. He will speak about his most recent analysis of precarious work and insecure workers in rich democracies.

Fourth (completed) program in the current 2018-2019 series. Attendance = 41

mclennan[Completed Program #120 since 2005Thursday, March 14, 2019 1:30 PM in The Gathering Place. Speaker:  David McLennan, Ph.D.  Professor of Political Science and Director of the Meredith Poll, Meredith College. Topic: “Comments on the November 2018 Mid-Term Election.” 

McLennan teaches American Government, Campaigns and Elections, Political Leadership, Women in Politics and other courses at Meredith. He enjoys helping students understand how to make a difference in civic life.

Because of his connections throughout the state and region, he directs internships for Meredith political science students and routinely places students in state legislative offices, research and advocacy organizations, and in city and state government agencies. He strives to match students with internship experiences that align with their career goals.

McLennan frequently serves as an expert analyst about politics for a variety of news outlets. He has recently appeared on WRAL-TV, Spectrum News, CBS North Carolina and ABC 11. He has written op-eds that have been published in U.S. News & World Report, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly Researcher, the News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer.

In 2015, McLennan founded the Meredith Poll, a statewide survey of public opinion of North Carolina voters. The Meredith Poll is the only statewide poll focused on women’s issues, and it was started to help students develop skills that will assist them at Meredith and in their careers. McLennan published the Status of Women in North Carolina Politics — a comprehensive examination of women as appointed and elected officials, candidates, and voters — in 2015. The widely-cited report is being updated and will be published in 2018.

Fifth (completed) program in the current 2018-2019 series. Attendance = 62

StephenKelly[Completed Program #121 since 2005]  Thursday, April 11, 2019 1:30 PM in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Stephen R. Kelly, former U.S. diplomat, currently a research scholar at Duke University. Topic: “The Dangers of Extreme Nationalism: the Case of Shoichi Yokoi.”

Sixth (completed) program in the current 2018-2019 series. Attendance = 38

Mr. Kelly is writing a book about Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi, one of the last Imperial Japanese Army stragglers found alive in the Pacific after World War II. Mr. Kelly’s research focuses in part on how Sgt. Yokoi managed to survive from 1944 when he retreated into the jungles of Guam in the face of a massive U.S. invasion, and 1972, when he was found by two Guamanian hunters.

He is particularly interested in the cultural and political forces that led Sgt. Yokoi to Guam and kept him from surrendering for 28 years, especially the extreme nationalism and militarism that characterized prewar Japan. He looks forward to discussing with Fearrington residents what lessons Sgt. Yokoi might hold for our own times of rising nationalism.


HannahGill2[Completed Program #122 since 2005] Thursday, May 09, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in The Gathering Place. SPEAKER: Prof. Hannah E. Gill, the UNC Center for Global Initiatives,  Associate Director, UNC Institute for the Study of the Americas, and Director of The Latino Migration Project, a public education program on Latin American immigration and integration in North Carolina. TOPIC: “The Latino Migration Experience in North Carolina: New Roots in the Old North State.”

Seventh (completed) program in the current 2018-2019 series. Attendance = 29

Based on her extensive research on a range of experiences and policy issues related to Mexican immigration into the United States, Dr. Gill will speak about Guanajuato, Mexico migration to North Carolina, which is rooted in a 200-year-old history of “push” and “pull” emigration and immigration forces.

About Hannah Gill: An anthropologist with a specialization in Latin American and Caribbean migration studies, she joined the UNC Center for Global Initiatives in 2004 as a Rockefeller postdoctoral scholar and now shares a joint position at the Center and the Institute for the Study of the Americas. Dr. Gill is the author and co-author of two books: “North Carolina and the Latino Migration Experience: New Roots in the Old North State” and “Going to Carolina de Norte, Narrating Mexican Migrant Experiences.” Hannah teaches a global service learning class – “Latin American Immigrant Perspectives: Ethnography in Action” – that travels to Guanajuato, Mexico each year. She received a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Oxford, England and a Bachelor of Arts degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Gill is a native of Alamance County, North Carolina and a 1999 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Recent U.S. immigration policies regulating migration from Mexico and/or Central American countries have created great levels of human suffering, violations of basic human rights, and extraordinary economic and political crises.  

Our 2017-2018 Series

MacLean Photo

[Completed] Thursday, September 14, 2017  1:30 pm in The Gathering Place.  Season Opener Speaker: Nancy MacLean, Ph.D., William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Topic: “Democracy in Chains.”

First (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 117

Professor MacLean’s scholarship has received a dozen prizes and awards and been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships Foundation.

Prof. MacLean is an award-winning teacher and scholar, whose 2017 book Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, was described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” Prof. MacLean’s book is now available at McIntyre’s, where she will be available to autograph copies following the program.

DemocracyInChainsBehind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did. Democracy in Chains names its true architect—the Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan—and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority. In a brilliant and engrossing narrative, Nancy MacLean shows how Buchanan forged his ideas about government in a last-gasp attempt to preserve the white elite’s power in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education.

She is the author of four other books, including Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006) called by The Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best,” and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, named a New York Times “noteworthy” book of 1994. She is currently on a tour of 50 U.S. cities and recently was on tour in Australia.

Her articles and review essays have appeared in American Quarterly,The Boston Review, Feminist Studies, Gender & History, In These Times, International Labor and Working Class History, Journal of American History, Journal of Women’s History, Law and History Review, The Nation, the OAH Magazine of History, and many edited collections.

[Completed] Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:30 pm at The Gathering Place.  Speaker: James Drennan, Albert Coates Professor Emeritus (and part-time adjunct professor) of Public Law and Government, UNC School of Government. Topic: “A Guide to Understanding the News About The North Carolina Courts.”

Second (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 32

James DrennanProf. Drennan joined the School of Government (then the Institute of Government) in 1974. He teaches and advises on court administration issues, judicial ethics and fairness, criminal sentencing, and judicial leadership. While on leave from 1993 through 1995, he served as director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

Drennan earned a BA from Furman University and a JD from Duke University, where he served on the editorial board of the Duke Law Journal. Over his career, Prof. Drennan has contributed a considerable amount of professional writing on both legal and judicial administration topics. His work has also been honored by receiving significant professional awards. Two such recent awards include: the 2013 North Carolina Chief Justice’s Professionalism Award, presented annually to an individual or organization whose contributions have demonstrated the highest commitment to genuine professionalism and the highest standards of legal ethics. The award recognizes that Prof. Drennan’s career has been dedicated to seeking justice for all North Carolinians by improving their justice system and that he exemplifies professionalism, intellectual honesty, the highest legal ethics, and compassion. And 2016 the Karen Thorson Award presented annually by the National Association of State Judicial Educators to honor a member who has made significant contributions to both the association and judicial branch education nationally

Hodding Carter[Completed] Thursday, November 09, 2017  1:30 pm at The Gathering Place.  Speaker: W. Hodding Carter III, Emeritus University Professor of Leadership and Public Policy at UNC – Chapel Hill.  Topic: “The Rise of Certainty and the Decline of the Republic.”

Third (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 141

Prior to joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Carter was president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he worked with former UNC System President Bill Friday ’48 (LLB), who was chair of the foundation’s commission on intercollegiate athletics. Dr. Carter also worked for about 18 years as a reporter and editor for the Delta Democrat-Times of Greenville, Miss., which was owned by his father. Ferrel Guillory described them as “crusading Southern journalists.” As an editorialist, Carter strongly promoted the presidential candidacy of Terry Sanford ’39. He later worked on the presidential campaigns of Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

Nationally, Hodding Carter is perhaps best remembered as the spokesman for the U.S. State Department during the Iran hostage crisis in the late 1970s. Dr. Carter’s wife, Patt Derian, also worked in the Carter administration’s human rights initiatives in other countries.

Dr. Carter later was a correspondent for the PBS Frontline documentary series and wrote as a contributor for major U.S. newspapers. He is a four-time Emmy winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for broadcast journalism.

Danielle Christmas[Completed] Thursday, December 14, 2017 1:30 pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Danielle Christmas, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English & Comparative Literature at UNC-Chapel Hill. Topic: “The Plantation-Auschwitz Tradition: Racism, Capitalism, and William Styron”

Fourth (completed) program in 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 76

About the Talk: In his two most infamous novels, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) and Sophie’s Choice (1979), celebrated Southern author William Styron advances a controversial argument: the idea that economic motives alone can explain the atrocities committed against Black Americans, in the form of plantation slavery, and European Jews, in the perpetration of the Holocaust. In fact, Styron argues that the latter couldn’t have taken place without the former and that Nazi concentration camps were, in reality, the “new plantation.” In this talk, Styron’s much-criticized commitment to an economic explanation will be considered alongside the fate of that explanation in sources as diverse as Stanley Engerman’s and William Fogel’s rosy portrait of plantation life in Time on the Cross (1974); Richard Rubenstein’s Marxist account of the Holocaust in The Cunning of History (1975); and controversial filmmaker Nate Parker’s recent Nat Turner biopic, The Birth of a Nation (2016).

Prof. Christmas holds a B.A. in English from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current manuscript, “Auschwitz and the Plantation: Labor, Sex, and Death in American Holocaust and Slavery Fiction,” concerns how representations of slavery and the Holocaust contribute to American socioeconomic discourses. She has received a number of national awards to support this research, including a Cummings Foundation Fellowship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a Mellon / ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Deeply interested in comparative frameworks, she co-convened an international conference through Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia in July 2014 entitled, “The Future of the Past: Representing the Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Trauma in the 21st Century” and she is proud to have been included in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s interdisciplinary symposium of scholars working on genocide and literature. Most recently, her articles have appeared in Twentieth-Century Literature (2015) and Aftermath: Genocide, Memory, and History (Monash University, 2015).

Mary Rose Papandrea[Completed] Thursday, January 11, 2018 [Re-scheduled from October 20171:30 pm at The Gathering Place.  Speaker: Mary-Rose Papandrea, J.D., Judge John J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at UNC School of Law.  Topic:“Traitors, Whistleblowers, or Spies? Exploring the Unauthorized Dissemination and Publication of National Security Information.”

Fifth (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 120

After graduating from Yale College and the University of Chicago Law School, Professor Papandrea clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter as well as Hon. Douglas H. Ginsburg of the D.C. Circuit and Hon. John G. Koeltl of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She then worked as an associate at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, DC, where she specialized in First Amendment and media law litigation.

Prof. Papandrea has published a textbook, Media and the Law, together with accompanying Teacher’s Manual, and over 16 professional articles. She is currently a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, and has also served as the Chair of the American Association of Law School’s Mass Media Law and National Security Law sections, and remains on the Executive Committee of both sections.

GREAT DECISIONS orhonig[Completed] Thursday, February 08, 2018 1:30 pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Or Arthur Honig, Ph.D.,  Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University | Lecturer, Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University | Israel Institute Faculty Fellow.  Topic: “The Foreign Policy of Four Presidents Towards Israel and the Middle East: Bush 1 – Obama”

Sixth (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 88

Dr. Honig teaches courses on the Middle East, terrorism, and propaganda. He received his doctorate at UCLA on peace processes resolving intra-state conflicts and has held positions at the universities of Calgary and UCLA. Prior to entering academia, he served in the strategic planning unit of the Israel Defense Forces during the end of the Oslo peace process and throughout the Al-Aqsa Intifada (aka The Second Intifada).

He is the author of a number of articles on intelligence, counterterrorism, Middle East politics, and Israeli and American foreign and defense policies. His publications have appeared in Security Studies, International Relations, Journal of Strategic Studies, and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. His current research focuses on the political consequences of military defeats in the Middle East as well as on American foreign policy in the region.

Detlef Knappe cropped 081616 500x500[Completed] Thursday, March 08, 2018 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Detlef Knappe, Ph.D., Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (Water Quality and Treatment Research Group) at NC State University. Topic: “Unregulated Chemicals in Our Drinking Water.”

Seventh (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 62

[Profile Reported in the NCSU’s news blog on December 01, 2017] — “‘For many years, Dr. Knappe and his research group have collected water samples along North Carolina’s rivers and then analyzed those samples in the laboratory.

“The work began as an effort to design better water treatment processes that would lead to safer and better tasting drinking water. Along the way, Prof. Knappe developed a curiosity about fluorochemicals, or perfluorinated compounds.

“The substances he is concerned about have names like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorosulfonic acid (PFOS), and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA) which is also known as GenX. They fall into a category referred to as unregulated contaminants, so no one was actively monitoring for their presence.

“Things changed dramatically in 2016 when Knappe’s research group, working closely with investigators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Exposure Research Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, issued a report describing high levels of a fluorochemical with the trade name GenX in the drinking water supply for the city of Wilmington, North Carolina and surrounding counties. Prof. Knappe’s research [continues to] contribute to the elimination of contaminant discharge into Cape Fear River.”

CowgerandRead[Completed] Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place.  Speakers: Christina Cowger, Ph.D., Coordinator, North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN) and Catherine Read, Executive Director, The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture (NCCIT). Topic: “North Carolina: First in Torture Flights.”

Eighth (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 31

NCSTN is a non-partisan grassroots coalition of individuals from faith-based, human rights, veterans, and student groups investigating and exposing North Carolina’s central role in the CIA’s extrajudicial Extraordinary Rendition (RDI) program serviced by “torture taxi” contractors based in North Carolina.

NCCIT is a 501(c)3 non-governmental non-partisan blue-ribbon panel of policy experts, academics, and community leaders who investigate and encourage public debate about the role North Carolina played in facilitating this clandestine U.S. torture program between 2001 – 2009.

Both organizations are models contributing to sustaining the momentum for transparency and public accountability of human rights in official government programs, and to helping make North Carolina a leader against torture.

Dr. Christina Cowger has been the coordinator of North Carolina Stop Torture Now (NCSTN) since its founding in 2006. She and NCSTN were recognized for leadership in 2012 by the Wake County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union at the group’s annual W.W. Finlator Award dinner. Cowger is a member of the Board of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture. She is an agricultural researcher, and lives in Raleigh.

Catherine Read is an experienced organizational leader and advocate with over 10 years of experience leading the Washington, D.C. offices of two human rights organizations. Most recently, she was the Washington Director of Crisis Action, an award-winning international human rights organization whose mission is the protection of civilians in conflict. Prior to joining Crisis Action, Catherine spent over five years with the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) as Director of its Washington office. Catherine provided overall strategic direction for CVT’s advocacy and policy agenda in Washington.

JessicaLiao[Last Completed Program in the Current Season.] Thursday, May 10, 2018 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Jessica Liao, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) at North Carolina State University.  Topic: “Crisis in the South China Sea?”

Ninth (completed) program in the 2017-2018 series. Attendance = 56

China’s rise has altered the global balance of power, and the first place to feel the strain is Beijing’s backyard, the South China Sea. How do Southeast Asian countries respond to a rising China and its increasingly aggressive gestures over the South China Sea? What do they expect from the United States? Is the South China Sea issue to Southeast Asian countries a crisis or something else?

Professor Liao previously taught at George Washington University and was a visiting fellow at Monash University’s campus in Kuala Lumpur. She received her Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Southern California and her M.A. in China Studies from National Sun Yat-Sun University in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Her research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and East Asian politics.

Her most recent book, Developmental States and Business Activism: East Asia’s Trade Dispute Settlement (Palgrave 2016), discusses how government-business relations in China, South Korea, and Taiwan shape the respective governments’ decisions in solving trade disputes with trading partners.

Her current project examines China’s resource and infrastructure development in Southeast Asia. Professor Liao will be teaching a graduate course on the Politics of East Asia and an undergraduate course on the Politics of China and Japan.

Our 2016 – 2017 Speaker Series

mclennan[Completed] September 08, 2016  1:30pm in The Gathering Place.  Speaker: David McLennan, Ph.D. Visiting Professor of Political Science at Meredith College. Topic: “The 2016 National and State Elections: 8 Weeks and 5 Days From Now” [As of the Program Date].

First (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 100

Our opening program for this series features David McLennan, Ph.D., a highly sought-after speaker and political analyst. We are honored that he has agreed to speak to us a second time in 2016 during the Presidential campaign. Prof. McLennan is a popular political media analyst, and a sought-after speaker on national and North Carolina politics. He speaks frequently to civic groups and regularly comments on politics for national, regional, and local media, including frequent interviews on NPR, WRAL, WNCN, and other media outlets. His columns have appeared in U.S. News and World ReportCongressional Quarterly Researcher, and other publications.

Prof. McLennan has taught American Government, Campaigns and Elections, Political Leadership, Women in Politics and other courses at Texas Christian University, North Carolina State University, and William Peace University (formerly Peace College), where he started the Political Science major and developed the Raleigh Experience, a cooperative learning program.

His Research Expertise includes three key components, which only too clearly define the 2015 – 2016 U.S. election campaign season: The impact of negative advertising on political attitudes, Image restoration for politicians in trouble, and Barriers to women’s electoral success. 

In 2003, he founded the North Carolina Center for Women in Public Service (NCCWPS), a partnership with the Women’s Forum of North Carolina. The organization was created to recruit and train women from across the state to seek appointed and elected office. As head of research and programs, McLennan helped create the Women in Office, Women on Board, and Women at the Table programs. He helped the NCCWPS merge with the Institute of Political Leadership, where he leads the collegiate and women’s programs.

Konrad[CompletedOctober 13, 2016  1:30pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Charles E. Konrad, Ph.D., Director, NOAA’s Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC), Certified Consulting Meteorologist & Associate Professor Department of Geography University of North Carolina / Chapel Hill  Topic: “Climate Change in North Carolina”

Second (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 69

Dr. Konrad has interests across a wide range of areas in climatology and meteorology, including heavy precipitation, tornadoes, hurricanes, cold air outbreaks, heat waves and winter weather. He has published research articles in various peer-reviewed journals, including Monthly Weather Review, Weather and Forecasting, the International Journal of Climatology, Climate Research, and Applied Geography. He was also a co-author on the Southeast Technical Report for the National Climate Assessment.

NOAA’s Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC) provides operational climate service programs and expertise in climate science for the southeastern United States. SERCC is an operational climate service center that conducts research on climate in the southeastern United States and translates that research into operational tools for users.

Prof. Konrad is also a principal investigator with the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA) interdisciplinary research team that connects climate science and decision-making in the realms of water, coast and health.

Tom Newcomb 2012 C SPAN[Completed] November 10, 2016 1:30pm in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Thomas Newcomb, former CIA Case Officer and CIA Station Chief at five locations in Europe and Africa. Topic: “Espionage & Ethics: Reconciling Espionage with American Ideals.” Our spies are heroes while those who spy against us are villains and traitors. Both use the same deceit and break the same kinds of laws to achieve their ends.

Third (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 85 

Mr. Newcomb served as a Special Assistant to the President and the Senior Director for Combating Terrorism in the National Security Council until January 20, 2005. Mr. Newcomb conducted Cold War, counter-terrorism, and war-zone operations in five CIA stations in Europe and in Africa.

Over the course of a 25-year career in intelligence, Newcomb has served at a Senior-Executive level in all three branches of government: as a legal advisor to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court; an associate counsel in the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review in the Department of Justice; a subcommittee staff director and counsel to then-Chairman Porter Goss on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; an assistant general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); as a CIA case officer and chief of station conducting Cold War, counter-terrorism, and war-zone operations; and as a member of the CIA’s Historical Review Panel (HRP).

After a 25 year career in intelligence, including several Senior-Executive positions, he taught for several years in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio.

Newcomb comes from a long line of preachers and closet phrenologists and has a BA and JD from the University of Minnesota. Before turning to public service, he practiced trial law with Minneapolis-area firms, and In between those two degrees he served in Vietnam as a buck sergeant in the 101st Airborne infantry.

William Leuchtenburg[Completed] December 08, 2016 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Wiliam E. Leuchtenburg, Ph.D, the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Topic “Reflections on the 2016 Presidential Election.”

Fourth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 151

Professor Leuchtenburg is the author of a dozen books, and is a prominent scholar of the life and career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 2008, he was chosen as the first recipient of the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Award for Distinguished Writing in American History of Enduring Public Significance. His most recent book (2015) is the much-acclaimed The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton (Oxford University Press), the only comprehensive history of the United States presidency in the twentieth century. and an enthralling account of American presidential actions from the assassination of William McKinley in 1901 to Bill Clinton’s last night in office in January 2001. As one of the great presidential historians of the century, Prof. Leuchtenburg portrays each of the presidents in a chronicle sparkling with anecdote and wit. His reflections on the 2016 Presidential election promises to be something no one should miss.

He holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. In 1956, he served on the faculty of Salzburg Global Seminar Session 46, American Education.

pearson[Completed] January 12, 2017  1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: W. Robert Pearson, Career Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador to Turkey 2000 to 2003, during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the election to power of Turkey’s current government. TOPIC: “Turkey – Pivotal in Resolving the Syrian Crisis.

Fifth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 153

From 1976 to 2006, he served six presidents and eleven secretaries of state. Tours at the White House, NATO, Paris, and Beijing provided experience in global political, economic and defense issues. From 2006 to 2014, he was president of a major international NGO – IREX.

Pearson is president of American Diplomacy magazine published through UNC, a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a US Navy veteran, a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia Law School. He speaks French, Chinese and Turkish. He shared his life and career with his wife Margaret, a Senior Foreign Service Officer in public diplomacy.

[Completed] February 09, 2017 1:30pm in The Gathering Place. SpeakerGeorge Lankevich, Ph.D., City University of New York (Retired) TOPIC: “The US Supreme Court — Law & Politics in the Marble Temple.” Americans naively believe that the Supreme Court, protector of rights and law, operates above the grime of politics. Professor Lankevich analyzes its performance in Washington’s Marble Temple and shows how political passions sometimes enter into even our highest court.  At least one court vacancy will be filled by the new Administration. A popular speaker and Fearrington resident, George’s programs sparked enthusiastic discussions!

Sixth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 105

Stephen Bodner[Completed] March 09, 2017 1:30PM in The Gathering Place. Speaker: Dr. Stephen Bodner, physicist and Retired Head of the Laser Fusion Program at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, who previously lived in Fearrington.

Topic: “Free Trade and Its Critics.” Most economists, Democrat and Republican, and all presidents since FDR, have supported free trade: the principle that a nation benefits from trade without tariffs or other impediments. However, some prominent economists have disagreed, and last year they were joined by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Steve will discuss and assess the debate between the free traders and their critics.

Seventh (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 73

Daniel Gitterman[CompletedApril 13, 2017, 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Daniel P. Gitterman, Ph.D., The Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill. Education: B.A. (Connecticut College). M.A. (The University of Pennsylvania), A.M. and Ph.D. in Political Science (Brown University), and former Exchange Scholar at Harvard University’s Ph.D. program in Health Policy.

Topic: “Calling the Shots: The President, Executive Orders and Public Policy.” Dr. Gitterman will discuss how Presidents and their staffs use specific tools, including executive orders and memoranda to agency heads, as instruments of political control of and influence over the government and the private sector. For more than a century, Presidents have used these tools without violating the separation of powers.

Eighth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 78

Doug Rader[Completed] Thursday, May 11, 2017, 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Douglas N. Rader, Ph.D., Chief Oceans Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, Raleigh, NC. Topic Title: “Our Oceans; Our Future.”

Oceans cover 75% of the Earth’s surface and play key roles in climate, weather, the all-important food chain, and major human migration movements caused by both rising levels of sea water and lowering levels of land.

Dr. Rader works with international and regional teams around the world to leverage cutting-edge science in current Oceans Program projects and emerging ocean issues, such as renewing fisheries, marine protected areas, coral reef ecosystems, and the interactive impacts of oceans and climate.

Ninth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 68.

Next program will be on September 14, 2017. Details forthcoming. Sign up for our late summer newsletter to be kept informed.


 Our Completed 2015 – 2016 Programs

DENNIS STREETSThursday, September 10, 2015 [Program Completed], 1:30pm at the Gathering Place. Speaker: Dennis W. Streets, Executive Director of the Chatham County Council on Aging: Topic:1935 to 2015–The Changing Landscape for Today’s 80 Year Old, Living Longer Than Ever.

First (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 69  To receive the slides presented in this program, please complete this simple form.

From 2006 – 2014, Dennis served as the Director of the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services, after serving as coordinator of the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Aging Research and Educational Services (CARES) and as clinical instructor at the Jordan Institute for Families of the School of Social Work. He has over 30 years of experience and expertise.

He earned a Master’s in Public Health and a Master’s in the Arts of Teaching from UNC-Chapel Hill, and established the university’s first interdisciplinary exchange of information and activities on aging issues. Streets has received many honors, including being the first recipient (2012) of the Presidential Award from the NC Association on Aging.

tnewmanThursday, October 08, 2015 [Program Completed], 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Theresa NewmanClinical Professor of Law at Duke University, co-director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic, associate director of the Duke Law School Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, and faculty adviser to the student-led Innocence Project. She has been at Duke since 1990 and served as the associate dean for academic affairs from 1999-2008. Topic: “The State of Innocence: Pursuing Justice for the Wrongfully Convicted in North Carolina.”

Second (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 36 

Newman is a member of the board of the international Innocence Network, an affiliation of more than sixty-five organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove their innocence and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions. Until several years ago, she served as Network president.  She has also served as president of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, a nonprofit organization she helped found, which is dedicated to assisting wrongly convicted North Carolina inmates obtain relief, and a member of the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Criminal Justice Study Commission (formerly the Commission on Actual Innocence), the North Carolina Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, and the North Carolina Bar Association Administration of Justice Committee. 

Newman received her JD from Duke in 1988.  She clerked for the Honorable J. Dickson Phillips, Jr., on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit after graduation and then practiced in the civil litigation group of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in Raleigh, N.C., before returning to Duke.

Fred Gould smallThursday, November 12, 2015 [Program Completed] 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Dr. Fred Gould, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Entomology at North Carolina State University (NCSU). Topic: “Living in a Genetically Engineered World: From GMO Food to GMO People.

Third (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 61 

Dr. Gould’s groundbreaking research on the application of evolutionary biology and ecological genetics to sustainable insect pest management has profoundly influenced management of insect pests of crops on a global scale, and holds promise for doing the same for arthropod vectors of human disease (such as ticks, mosquitoes, etc.). His research and major contributions have earned him numerous national and international awards and election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He is also a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America and of the American Associatiion for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Prof. Gould’s work is helping to build a better understanding of natural and human-induced evolution (genetic engineering). This knowledge will contribute to improving food production as well as the health of humans and the environment.

Prof Steven ChurchillThursday, December 10, 2015 [Program Completed] 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Dr. Steven Churchill, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University. Prof. Churchill is a human paleontologist studying morphological and behavioral adaptation in archaic and modern humans of the Middle and Late Pleistocene (2 million to 10,000 years ago).

Topic: The amazing Homo naledi” fossil skeleton (new species of the human family tree) discovered during Prof. Lee Berger’s 2013 – 2015 expedition at the Rising Star network of caves near Johannesburg. Prof. Churchill will bring some casts of actual Homo naledi specimens. See the PBS NOVA “Dawn of Humanity” program featuring this exciting site.

The slides Dr. Churchill used for his presentation are available for downloading here.

Fourth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 77 

Homo naledi is a previously-unknown species of extinct hominin discovered within the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system, part of UNESCO’s Cradle of Humankind Site in South Africa. This species is characterized by body mass and stature similar to small-bodied human populations but a small endocranial volume similar to australopiths. Cranial morphology of H. naledi is unique, but most similar to early Homo species including Homo erectusHomo habilis or Homo rudolfensis. While primitive, the dentition is generally small and simple in occlusal morphology. The unearthed fossils were from at least 15 individuals and include multiple examples of most of the bones in the skeleton. These skeletons require a fundamental rethinking of human evolution.

Thursday,  January 14, 2016 [Program Completed] 1:30pm at The Gathering Place.  Speaker: Tony Rivera, Ph.D., Research Fellow with the Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS), Assistant Professor of International Security at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University, and visiting professor at Duke University’s Social Science Research Institute. Dr. Rivera is also the founder and the Director of the Laboratory for Unconventional Conflict Analysis and Simulation (LUCAS), a computational security studies lab, which is bi-located on Fort Bragg and Duke University.

Fifth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 101 TonyRivera headshot

Topic“Iranian-US relations.” This lecture will investigate the following issue in depth: “What is Iran’s Grand Strategy?” by specifically, posing answers to the following five questions. (1) What are the foundations of Iranian power?  (2) How has the current strategic culture emerged? (3) How does Iran project power? (4) What are the elements of that power? and (5) What are the best ways to approach strategic interaction with Iran?  You can download Dr. Rivera’s program slides here.

Since 2010, Dr. Rivera has been affiliated with the University of Chicago’s Computation Institute, where he has provided subject matter expertise on Iranian grand strategy and security policy for agent-based modeling. His work at the Computation Institute also included modeling the sovereignty disputes in the South and East China Seas. From the fall of 2009 until spring of 2012 Dr. Rivera served as managing editor of the International Studies Association’s Compendium project.

Emeron Niou

Thursday, February 11, 2016 [Program Completed] 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Emerson Niou, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at Duke University and Director of Duke University’s Program in Asian Security Studies (PASS).

Topic: “China/Taiwan Developments”

Sixth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 65

No problem is of greater importance to East Asian states today than ensuring the region’s peace and stability. The Cold War’s end has prompted the key powers in East Asia to reevaluate their national security objectives. In addition to general security concerns, three trouble spots — the Taiwan Straits, the Korean Peninsula, and the South China Sea–are particularly destabilizing.

Prof. Niou is the co-author of The Balance of Power, Cambridge University Press, 1989. His recent publications include: “A Theory of Economic Sanctions and Issue Linkage,” with Dean Lacy, Journal of Politics, 2004; “Term Limits as a Response to Incumbency Advantage,” with Kongpin Chen, Journal of Politics, May 2005; “External Threat and Collective Action,” with Guofu Tan, Economic Inquiry, 2005; “Economic Interdependence and Peace: A Game-Theoretic Analysis,” Journal of East Asian Studies, 2007; “Strategic Voting in Plurality Elections,” with Daniel Kselman, Political Analysis, 2010.

His current projects include studies of institutions and governance in China, security balance in the Taiwan Strait, and theories of alliance formation.

mclennanThursday, March 10, 2016 [Program Completed] 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. SpeakerDavid McLennan, Ph.D., Visiting Professor of Political Science at Meredith College. McLennan’s research expertise includes: the impact of negative advertising on political attitudes, image restoration for politicians in trouble, and barriers to women’s electoral success.

Topic: The Exciting 2016 Primary Elections Season

Seventh (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 71 

In addition to being a media analyst, Prof. McLennan is a sought-after speaker on national and North Carolina politics, and regularly comments on politics for national, regional, and local media outlets. Recently he has been interviewed by the Reuter’s White House correspondent on the political culture of North Carolina, ABC News Radio on the US Senate campaign, and Governing magazine about the legislative short session.

He speaks regularly to civic groups about politics. His recent speeches have discussed the impact of independent expenditure spending on electoral politics, the decline in political communication, predictions about the 2014 midterm elections and the upcoming 2016 elections. His talk will be just five days prior to the North Carolina Primary Election (on March 15th_, which the legislature moved up for 2016 from its prior April schedule.

Dr. McLennan has taught American Government, Campaigns and Elections, Political Leadership, Women in Politics and other courses at Texas Christian University, North Carolina State University, and William Peace University (formerly Peace College), where he started the Political Science major and developed the Raleigh Experience, a cooperative learning program.

In 2003, McLennan founded the North Carolina Center for Women in Public Service (NCCWPS), a partnership with the Women’s Forum of North Carolina. The organization was created to recruit and train women from across the state to seek appointed and elected office. As head of research and programs, McLennan helped create the Women in Office, Women on Board, and Women at the Table programs. He helped the NCCWPS merge with the Institute of Political Leadership, where he leads the collegiate and women’s programs.

rmainuddin[Program Completed] FRIDAY, April 15, 2016 (Note the one-time date shift, made to accommodate his teaching schedule) 1:30pm at The Gathering Place. Speaker: Rolin G. Mainuddin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science at North Carolina Central University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Kansas. Before earning two master 19s degrees in political science and international affairs (administrative studies), respectively, from Ohio University, he completed graduate and undergraduate studies in international relations at Dhaka University (Bangladesh). His research interest is in international security and religious violence.

Topic: “Home Grown Terrorism”

Eighth (completed) program in the current series. Attendance = 55

A former president of the North Carolina Political Science Association and the Association of Third World Studies, Dr. Mainuddin serves on the editorial board of International Journal of South Asian Studies (India) and Journal of Third World Studies, and he serves on the Executive Board of Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS).

Prof. Maunuddin has appeared as a guest commentator for Voice of America (Bangla Language Service). In addition to editing a book, Religion and Politics in the Developing World: Explosive Interactions (Ashgate), his articles have appeared in Indian Journal of Asian Affairs; Journal of Political Science, Government and Politics (online); Journal of Third World Studies; Mid-American Journal of Politics; Middle East Policy, and Military Review.

west jason 738x714[Program Completed] Thursday, May 12, 2016  1:30pm at The Gathering place. Speaker: J. Jason West, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Topic: “Connecting Climate Change, Pollution and Human Health”  Dr. West’s program slides are available here.

Dr. West conducts interdisciplinary research addressing air pollution and climate change by using models of atmospheric chemistry and transport and tools for quantitative policy analysis. His work aims to understand the relationships between air pollution and climate change and their relevance for science and policy on local through global scales.

Using computer models, Dr. West is currently exploring the effects of changes in emissions on global air quality (ozone and particulate matter), the international transport of air pollutants, the health effects of air pollution, the effects of climate change on air quality and the radiative forcing of climate.

Summer Break June, July, and August: No Programming. Next Program will be December 08, 2016.

Our Completed 2013 – May 2015 Programs

May 14, 2015  Charles Kurzman, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Director of Sociology Graduate Studies, and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim CivilizationsTopic: “What Is an Islamic State?”

Ninth Program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 103

The emergence of a self-proclaimed “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq (also variously known as IS, ISIS, ISIL) has shocked the world, erasing national boundaries that were drawn a century ago and taunting the world with its graphic displays of violence. What do these revolutionaries mean by an “Islamic State,” and what do other Muslims think of its claim to represent their faith?

Prof. Kurzman is author of The Missing Martyrs (2011), Democracy Denied, 1905-1915 (2008), and The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (2004), and editor of the anthologies Liberal Islam (1998) and Modernist Islam, 1840-1940 (2002).

April 09, 2015:  Richard E. Jaworski, 2014-2015 Diplomat in Residence for the Southern Mid-Atlantic region, based at UNC and Duke. TOPIC:  “Personal Reflections on Operations Behind Embassy Walls.”

Eighth Program of the 2014 – 2015 Series   Attendance = 75

Mr. Jaworski recently completed an assignment as minister counselor for management affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. As the principal management officer for the U.S. Mission in Iraq – the largest U.S. foreign mission in the world – he was responsible for a Department of State budget exceeding $400 million and a staff of over 3,000 U.S. Government and contractor employees under Chief of Mission authority.

As a senior foreign service officer, Mr. Jaworski had the honor to serve as minister counselor for management for the U.S. Mission in Turkey (2010 to 2013) and deputy executive director of the Bureaus of European and Eurasian Affairs and International Organizations Affairs (2008 to 2010).

He served previously as minister counselor for management at the U.S. Embassy in London (2005-2008) and Warsaw (2001-2005); director of operations for the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions (1997-1999); senior general services officer in Tel Aviv (1994-1997); director of the Helsinki Support Activity for U.S. Missions in the Soviet Union (1990-1994); and he held additional consular and administrative positions in Moscow, London and Washington, D.C.

March 12, 2015:  Rosalyn Benjamin Darling, Ph.D.  Professor Emerita of Sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania & Visiting Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  TOPIC: “Activists and Terrorists: Why People Join Social Movements”

Seventh Program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 96

Seventh Program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 96

Recent events in France and elsewhere in the world have led many people to wonder how the perpetrators of horrific acts of terrorism come to engage in such behaviors. This program presented a sociological view of the process through which ordinary people end up doing extraordinary things.

Prof. Darling offered examples from the literature on religious zealots and from her own research on the disability rights movement to show how the same social psychological principles can explain membership in diverse social movements.

She is the author of nine books and numerous articles and chapters, mostly on the sociology of disability. Among her professional interests is the social psychology of social movements, a topic addressed in her most recent book.

February 12, 2015:  Omid Safi, Ph.D., Director, Duke Islamic Studies Center and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, John Hope Franklin Center, Duke University. TOPIC: “Turkey: Islam, Christianity, and Modernity”

Sixth Program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 154

Dr. Safi is a specialist in classical Islam and contemporary Islamic thought. His research on American Muslims, Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an, debates in contemporary Islam, and Sufism and Persian literature have been published in academic publications. His forthcoming books include: Makers of Modern Iran (Harvard University Press, 2014); Rumi: Sufi Saint, American Icon; and a volume on American Islam.

Safi has also been a frequent speaker on Islam in popular media, including in The New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, NBC and international media. He also is active on social media and as a blogger, is a lead Islam writer for the Huffington Post, and his column “What Would Muhammad Do?” has been a regular Religion News Service feature.

Prof. Safi is the editor of the edited volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, which offers an understanding of Islam rooted in social justice, gender equality, and religious and ethnic pluralism. His works Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, and Voices of Islam: Voices of Change (five volumes) were both published 2006. His Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters (2010), deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad.

January 08, 2015:  Miriam Labbok, MD, MPH, FACPM, FABM, IBCLC, Professor of the Practice of Public Health & Director, Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute in the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  TOPIC: “Global Policies, Politics, and Practicalities of Women’s Reproductive Health: Effects on Present and Future World Societies.”

Fifth program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 40

Dr. Labbok’s lifetime of work has had an immeasurable impact on improving global health, for which, in 2013, she received the Carl E. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Public Health Association’s International Health Section. Selective past positions include: from 2001 to 2005, she served as UNICEF’s Senior Advisor, Infant and Young Child Feeding and Care. From 1996 to 2001 she served as Chief, Nutrition and Maternal Health Division, Office of Health and Nutrition, Global Bureau, Agency for International Development (USAID). From 1992 to 1996 she served as the Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Collaborating Center on Breastfeeding.

Of her more than 75 published papers, her key publications include articles in the American Journal of Public HealthJournal of Human LactationGlobal library of Women’s Medicine, LondonBreast Cancer Research and Treatment; and the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

December 11, 2014:  Dr. Joseph (Joe) Williamson    Topic:  “We Are Not Alone – What Should You Think About When Using the Internet?”

Fourth program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 67

There are millions of connected computing devices using communication links (fiber, copper, radio, satellite) connected with routers forwarding packets (your chunks of data). Each one of these technologies is managed by something or someone. What are the implications? This conversation will include things we might think about regarding security, content, social media, and changes in our culture as we utilize the internet for shopping, research, and sharing.

Joe Williamson’s knowledge and over 29 years of information and communications’ technology leadership bridges public and private sector markets. He earned his PhD in engineering management from Clemson University, a MBA from Clemson and Furman Universities, and a BSEE from the University of New Hampshire. He was a faculty member at Clemson University and a professorial lecturer at George Washington University and served on the Board of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. He has participated as an invited panelist in the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) competition. He is a sought after international leader in the alignment of technology with business success. He has consulted to the United States and foreign governments and is invited to speak internationally on Knowledge Management.

November 13, 2014:  Fred W. Kiger   Topic: “MR. LINCOLN GOES TO GETTYSBURG”

Third program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 100

Fred delivered an electryfying, richly detailed talk recalling the context and content of Abraham Lincolon’s visit to Gettysburg, whch occured in November 151 years (almost to the same day)—in a town still trying to recover from three terrible days in July. The 16th President of the United States rose to speak for about three minutes, conyveying his speech in a high-pitched tenor, and delivered in “shocking brevity,” which was received with only polite applause. Those 272 words, however, are immortal.

Fred leads Civil War battlefield study programs, teaches several classes each semester and served as co-lecturer with Shelby Foote on the “Cruising the Mighty Mississippi” travel program. He is the creator of the field guide “The Civil War: A History of the War Between the States” (Workman), holds two degrees from UNC and has taught classes on the American Civil War for over 25 years.

October 09, 2014:  Prof. Klaus W Larres, Ph.D., the Richard M. Krasno Distinguished Professor in History and International Affairs at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. He also is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC.

Second program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 78

TOPIC: “Putin, the West, and Ukraine: A New Cold War.”  This talk considered Russia’s relations with the western world since the end of the Cold War in 1990/91. In particular the current Ukraine crisis was explored to exemplify the changing nature of Russian-western relations in the recent past. The changing nature of the western world’s geo-politicical situation since 1990 was also be considered.

See the invitation on the right for the next talk in UNC’s “The U.S. in World Affairs: the Cold War and Beyond” Series.

September 12, 2014:  UNC Professor Niklaus Steiner, Director of the Center for Global Initiatives at the University of North Carolina – Chapel HillTopic: “The Controversy Over Immigration and Possible Ways Forward.”

First program of the 2014 – 2015 Series  Attendance = 89

Steiner.BookProf. Steiner explored the complex economic, political, cultural, and moral concerns that arise when people move across borders seeking admission into other countries. A native of Switzerland who moved to the U.S. in his youth, Steiner has had the good fortune of moving between cultures all his life, and this experience shapes his academic focus. His book, International Migration and Citizenship Today documents and discusses how migration has emerged in the last decade as one of the world’s most controversial and pressing issues.

This thought-provoking textbook offers the reader a more nuanced and knowledgeable understanding of the complex economic, political, cultural, and moral concerns that arise when people move across borders seeking admission into other countries.

May 08, 2014: Hans Hageman, Fearrington resident, retired Dutch diplomat with a great interest in military history, and former reserve officer of the Dutch Army Military Intelligence Service.  TOPIC: “The Outbreak of World War I: The Road to and from Sarajevo.”

Eighth program of the 2013 – 2014 Series  Attendance = 52

WWI, the first “total war” of the modern times, started very unexpectedly 100 years ago this summer. The participants were unprepared for the long and bloody conflict that ensued after the summer of 1914, and scrambled to mobilize their manpower and industry to prosecute the war. The war saw an unprecedented number of soldiers and civilians killed, and lead to the destruction of two large empires and the radical political reorientation of two other empires. The devastating war produced dramatic unforeseen changes in warfare and weapons, and was the stepping stone for WW II, which turned out to be many times more cruel, and also cast a legacy shadow on many wars since.

April 10, 2014: Louis Kingsland, Deputy Mission Director of the Viking Project that landed on Mars in 1976. Topic: “Confessions of a Rocket Scientist: Viking on Mars and the U.S. Space Program.” Lou described space exploration leading up to the Viking Project, his experiences and observations on that project, progress in space exploration since Viking, and his views on where the U.S. space program is going versus where it should be headed.

Seventh program of the 2013 – 2014 Series  Attendance = 55

Lou graduated in 1959 from the first class of the then new Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. After graduation he went to Cal Tech where he received an M.S. in aeronautical engineering. In the Air Force, Lou was involved in missile development, spacecraft recovery, combat airlift, and finally he was the Air Force project officer for Apollo Pacific recovery operations. After receiving the Air Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal, he left the Air Force in 1967 and joined the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. Following some early mission design work on the prospective Grand Tour mission to the outer planets, he began work on what soon became the Viking Mars Lander project. At the successful conclusion of the Viking mission in 1976, he was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal.

At that point, Lou left JPL and joined Wilshire Associates, an investment consulting firm, where he did pioneering work in asset allocation and investment policy for large pension funds, foundations, and endowments. In 1994, he retired as Executive Vice President of Mellon Capital and moved to Chapel Hill. Since then, he has served part time as Chairman of the Investment Policy Committee at Strategic Investment Solutions, a major institutional investment consulting firm in San Francisco. He is also a trustee of the Air Force Aid Society, and serves on several charitable investment boards.

March 13, 2014:  George Lankevich, Professor Emeritus of History, City University of New York. Topic: “The Supremes’ Great New Hits: America’s Highest Court in Our Time.”

Sixth program of the 2013 – 2014 Series  Attendance = 92 

The Supreme Court, famously described by Alexander Hamilton as the “least dangerous branch” of the government, has over the last quarter century achieved an increasing prominence in American life and politics. Controversies regarding the Court include battles over nominations, enduring conflicts of judicial philosophy, and many life-changing decisions. Few Americans would deny that the Supreme Court now occupies a more formidable place in the national psyche than in the past or that the decisions it issues are milestones as the nation moves into the twenty-first century. For good or ill, the Supremes are the sages who define the legal parameters of American society.

Whether their decisions are seen as “dangerous” or benign, their determinations are final, at least until the next case. This talk will assess the tumultuous history of the recent Court and its changing relationship to the people it serves.

February 13, 2014  Program was postponed until April 10, 2014 because of bad weather.

January 09, 2014:  Douglas J. Merrey, Ph.D. Topic: “From Famine to Prosperity in Rural Ethiopia: The Roles of Water Management, Farmer Innovation and Government Policies.”  

Fifth program of the 2013 – 2014 Series  Attendance = 46

Many people remember the horrific images and news about terrible famines in Ethiopia in the 1970s and 1980s; however, today Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and has achieved remarkable progress in food security, health, education, and other areas. His presentation focused on one dimension of this remarkable transformation: the evolution of programs to reverse the erosion and degradation of the highlands, considered a major cause of the famines. It has evolved from being authoritarian, top-down and ineffective to being increasingly community-driven and productive. The presentation is based on the experience and lessons his experiences over a ten year period of collaboration in applied research and policy dialogue. For a brief summary of some of the points to be made, go to: and download the short report.

Dr. Merrey has nearly 35 years of experience working and living in developing countries in Asia and Africa. This includes 20 years with the International Water Management Institute. His substantial grassroots field experience in rural Asia has informed project work at national and international policy levels, and his expertise in the environmental field has revolved around such development principles as participatory approaches to research, institutional change, and management; institutional analysis; and research and advice on natural resource management policy and institutions. Dr. Merrey, who has a broad understanding of water resource and irrigation management issues, offers strategic and practical management skills; has effectively led multidisciplinary international teams and worked on project design; and has substantial experience working for donors, consultants, and research institutions.

December 12, 2013:  Attorney John Graybeal, Raleigh, NC. and Sarah Wood (of the Sustainable Agriculture program at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro, also a graduate of the International Climate Reality Project) Topic: “Global Warming: History, Causes, Effects and the Future.”  This program was co-sponsored by the Fearrington Green Scene.

Fourth program of the 2013 – 2014 Series  Attendance = 44

It had been more than two years since the GREAT DECISIONS speaker series focused on the state of the planet’s climate. Since then, much more definitive scientific information has documented just how dramatically critical the situation has actually become. Mr. Graybeal used several sources, including a Powerpoint from the July 2013 Climate Reality Project Conference in Chicago, where he was trained to serve in the Project’s Leadership Corps. His presentation described the non-human, natural forces that have produced climate change in the past, the human forces that are causing global warming now, the actual and anticipated effects of current global warming and the conclusion that human-caused global warming can be and must be stopped. In its September 2013 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that “[i]n the Northern Hemisphere, 1983-2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years” and that “[h]uman influence on the climate system is clear.”

Other scientists have concluded that by 2047, the average temperature will be hotter across most parts of the planet than it had been at those locations in any year between 1860 and 2005.” They find that by then, the coldest years may be warmer than the hottest years in the past. It may well be that global warming should even be of greater concern than the national debt ceiling :-).

November 14, 2013:  Peter J. Stein, Ph.D. Emeritus Prof. of Sociology, William Paterson University (NJ) and Retired Scientist and Associate Director of Aging Workforce Initiatives at UNC/Chapel Hill Institute on Aging. TOPIC: “The Social and Economic Contexts of Aging in the U.S. and North Carolina.”

Third program of the 2013 – 2014 Series  Attendance = 72

Prof. Stein received his B.A. from City College, CUNY, and his doctorate in sociology from Princeton University. He pursued a career in sociology at Rutgers University, Lehman College-CUNY and at Wm. Paterson University, where he taught a number of undergraduate and graduate courses including Sociology of the Family, Sociology of the Life Course, Contemporary Issues in the Workplace, Sex and Gender in Modern Society, and the Sociology of Genocide and the Holocaust. He also served as co-Director of the University’s Genocide and Holocaust Studies Center and Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology.

October 10, 2013:  Kenneth P. Vickery, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Advising in the History Department at North Carolina State. University, where he has taught for almost 30 years. Topic Theme: “South Africa After Mendela.”

Second program of the 2013 – 2014 Series     Attendance = 41

Prof. Vickery received his B.A. degree with Phi Beta Kappa honors at Duke University and went on to study sub-Saharan African history at Yale University, where he earned his Ph.D. During his tenure at NC State, he has been a visiting professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Meredith College. In 1993, he was awarded a Fulbright fellowship and served as a Fulbright Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Economic History of the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.

Professor Vickery is also an acclaimed author. His book Black and White in Southern Zambia: The Tonga Plateau Economy and British Imperialism, 1890–1939 was a finalist for the Herskovits Prize, given annually by the African Studies Association for the outstanding book in African studies. He has published numerous articles and reviews in such publications as Comparative Studies in Society and History, the International Journal of African Historical Studies, the Journal of Southern African Studies, and American Historical Review. An award-winning instructor, Dr. Vickery was inducted into the Academy of Outstanding Teachers at North Carolina State in 1986. In 2005, he was named Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor, the university’s highest teaching honor.

September 12, 2013:  Captain George J. Hill, Medical Corps, USNR (retired), MD, D.Litt., Adjunct Professor of Surgery, Uniformed Services, University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. Topic: “Proceed to Peshawar: New Insights Into the Afghan-Pakistan Relationship.”

First program of the 2013 – 2014 Series     Attendance = 51

Captain Hill set an historical background based on his book “Proceed to Peshawar: The Story of a U.S. Navy Mission on the Afghan Border, 1943,” together with background information on Lieutenant Zimmermann’s other work in Naval Intelligence, some aspects of the history of the “Great Game” and the recent history of the Afghan-Pakistan border area.

May 09, 2013:  Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. (USAF/Retired, former Deputy Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force), and Professor of the Practice of Law and Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security at Duke University. Topic: Cyberwar and Cyber-Terrorism: A Legal Perspective.”

Eighth (last) Program of 2012 -2013   Attendance = 46

Prof. Dunlap’s extensive military career and his scholarly writing on national security, international law, civil-military relations, cyberwar, and military justice are ideally matched to our program interests and concerns. He shared his views and predictions about the nature and extent of cyber threats, what adaptions traditional military, legal, and political institutions have made (and should make), and the legal challenges that exist in building and sustaining defenses against new and unknown threats within evermore sophisticated “invisible” digital realms.

April 11, 2013:  Prof. Christopher R. Browning, the Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at UNC/Chapel Hill.  Topic: “Adolf Hitler and the Decisions for the Final Solution.”  He focused on the careful, amazingly detailed historical reconstruction over recent years piecing together the stochastic-like, non-linear decision chain leading up the ultimate horrors of the all too elaborate Nazi Holocaust program. Yom Hashoah had been on Monday this week (April 8th), and just several hours earlier (at 11:00am) this year’s annual commemoration ceremony of the Days of Remembrance for victims and survivors of the Holocaust had been held in the rotunda of the national Capitol.

Seventh Program of 2012 – 2013   Attendance = 51

Prof. Browning is the author of seven books exploring and explaining the complex connections between ordinary lives and citizen compliance with even horrific public policies. While much of his work has focused on the Nazi-led destruction of Jews, much of his work is relevant as well to modern times, where other ordinary citizens have turned their fears and hatred into inhuman acts that also fit to the destruction of others in the name of other horrific national policies.

March 14, 2013: Michael Hornblow  Topic: “A Papal Conclave”

Sixth Program of 2012 – 2013   Attendance = 72

Michael Hornblow, retired Foreign Service Officer. After college, he served in U.S. Army Intelligence and was a social worker in Harlem before joining the foreign service. His foreign service career began in 1966 with his first overseas assignment being Kabul. He subsequently served overseas in Khorramshahr, Iran, the Holy See (twice), Krakow and Warsaw (as the Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’ affairs), and the US Mission to NATO and Oslo. He had numerous assignments in Washington including a stint at the National Security Council as Deputy Staff Secretary. He has recently served as Associate Editor of American Diplomacy, which features foreign service dispatches and periodic reports on foreign policy.  Following his retirement from the Foreign Service, Michael worked as an assistant to the Secretary of the Smithsonian and as a Special Assistant to the Director of CHF International (since 2012, now Global Communities), an international development and humanitarian aid organization that operates in approximately 25 countries per year. Michael was born in Hollywood, California and attended Harvard College.

Topic:  “A Papal Conclave”   Papal Conclaves are rare, dramatic, significant, and secretive. What really happens once the door to the Sistine Chapel is closed and the College of Cardinals meet and elect a new pope? Will the new pope be from Europe or from South America or Africa or even from the United States? Each person attending will represent a Cardinal. We will discuss how the election is conducted, and by the end of our conclave a new pope will be elected. Fearrington resident Michael Hornblow served twice at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See during his diplomatic career. He shepherded us through the conclave and, as part of the election, discussed the leading challenges that Pope Francis I will face at the beginning of his papacy.

February 14, 2013:  Steve Stewart  Topic: “Landmines as an Instrument of War and Terror.” 

Fifth Program of the 2012 – 2013 Season   Attendance = 45

Steve Stewart, Dr.P.H., Professor Emeritus of Health Sciences and Director Emeritus, Strategic Alliances and Special Projects for the College of Integrated Science and Technology (CISAT), James Madison University (VA). Dr. Stewart directed the Mine Action Information Center (MAIC), the world’s leading landmine information clearinghouse. This Center currently holds contracts with the U. S. Department of State, the U. S. Department of Defense, the United Nations, and various nations.

He spoke about how while in the past 25 years landmines have become an instrument of terror against civilian populations, they have been an instrument of war for over 100 years. He reviewed the current state of landmine use and removal throughout the world, view current legislation, and discussed possible solutions to the problem.  Currently, over 140 countries are contaminated by over 100 million landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). In the past week, 10 children died in landmine explosions. These weapons continue to claim thousands of civilian lives yearly and have created wide areas of uninhabitable regions in the world that will remain contaminated for generations to come, perhaps “forever.”  Since his presentation, Steve has provided the following resource information for anyone who would like to look deeper:

lm monitor top leftResource:  The Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor is an initiative providing research for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). It is the de facto monitoring regime for the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor produces several research products including the annual Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Monitor reports, online country profile reports, as well as factsheets and maps. All Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor research products are available for purchase and as a free online resource.

Since 2007, the US has contributed more than $530 million to mine action largely through the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the US Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) and the Leahy War Victims Fund at USAID. To see the Contributions by the recipient for 2011, click here.

January 10, 2013:  Steven R. Kelly Topic: “Political & Environmental Hurdles of the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

Fourth Program of 2012 – 2013 Season. Attendance = 76

Stephen R. Kelly, Visiting Professor of the Practice of Public Policy and Canadian Studies at the Sanford School of Public Policy and Center for Canadian Studies at Duke University. His specialty areas are energy, security, and North American issues, including trade, immigration and border management. He spoke about the political and environmental hurdles affecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast and which has been in the approval process for more than four years. The project got caught up in the 2012 presidential campaign, had protesters roosting in trees in Texas to block it, and had Canadians saying they’ll sell their oil to China if we don’t want it. Prof. Kelly shared his thoughts about these issues and predicted it would eventually be approved. The audience was actively engaged throughout his presentation, which they found to be very informative and engaging.

Prof. Kelly has been teaching at Duke since 2008 in connection with his assignment as the U.S. State Department Diplomat in Residence assigned to Duke from 2008 to 2010. Mr. Kelly officially retired from the U.S. Foreign Service at the end of 2010. During his 28-year Foreign Service career, Mr. Kelly served at seven foreign postings on four continents. From 2000-2004 Mr. Kelly was Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Mission to Canada. Mr. Kelly also served as Consul General in Quebec City from 1995-1998

Click Here For Complete Program Details of the Prior (2012) Season

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Program details for the prior seasons (2005 – 2012) can be found on the Prior Programs tab.