Discussion Groups – Spring and Summer 2021

WACMB runs two regular discussion groups: one offered entirely through WACMB, and one offered in partnership with the OLLI program at CSUMB. If you are interested in attending a discussion group, please send an email to info@wacmb.org to indicate your interest. Come join the conversation!

WACMB/OLLI Discussion Group

Now that the 2021 Great Decisions discussion series has ended, the OLLI Discussion Group will take its usual seasonal hiatus until the fall.

WACMB Discussion Group

However, the WACMB Discussion Group will keep the conversation going. Topics will often dovetail with those covered in the WACMB Quick Takes series, but may sometimes address other world affairs-related topics of interest.

Meetings will be held online via Zoom through the spring and summer, and will move to in-person meetings once it’s been determined that such meetings can be done safely. The WACMB Discussion Group is facilitated by Judith Glickman and Boyd Haight.

Schedule is also shown in the WACMB Calendar block nearby. To add a reminder to your personal calendar, click the desired session to expand it and click "copy to my calendar" at the bottom of the listing.

Student Essay Contest Deadline April 19

To encourage interest in international affairs and global studies, the World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area is pleased to present an essay contest for local high school students.

Winners will receive awards of $150.

Participants should write a 350 –400-word essay addressing the one of the following topics:

  • Does social media influence the world for better or worse, or both?
  • What would you do to improve our world if elected to lead a free nation?
  • What is the most important fundamental human right?
  • What, if any, are the responsibilities of superpowers to the world at large?
  • How can we create worldwide demand for peace?
  • What steps should we take to stop climate change? Why will the world take your advice?

This contest is open to all students in their teens in local and regional schools in the Monterey Bay area.

Essays must be submitted no later than Monday, April 19, 2021.

Submissions and questions should be sent to Michelle Amirkhanian at nonprofiteducationdiscovery@gmail.com

Special Events

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

On Wednesday, March 3, from 12:30-1:30, as part of the Worldviews 2021 lecture series, Professors Netta Avineri and Mahabat Baimyrzaeva will speak on “Covid-19 as a Prism to Re-examine the Past and Imagine the Future.”

On Tuesday, March 9, from 12:30-1:30, Dr. Christina Kwauk will deliver the MIIS Tyler Visiting Fellow Talk on “Leveraging Girls’ Education for a New Green Learning Agenda.”

To register, click here to go the MIIS Events webpage.

Discussion Groups – Great Decisions 2021 is Underway!

The 2021 Great Decisions discussion series, which began in February, continues through the end of March. Produced by the Foreign Policy Association of America, Great Decisions is the country’s largest discussion program on world affairs.

Your World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area is offering two discussion groups that use FPA’s materials to guide this eight-week-long program. One group is moderated by Judith Glickman and Boyd Haight. The other group is moderated by John Hetz, and is offered in partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at CSUMB.

Both groups meet online on Monday evenings from 4:00 – 5:30 pm. Both groups follow the same schedule, which is printed below.

  • February 1 – Global Supply Chains and National Security
  • February 8 – Persian Gulf Security Issues
  • February 15 – No Class for Presidents’ Day
  • February 22 – Brexit and the European Union
  • March 1 – Struggles Over the Melting Arctic
  • March 8 – China’s Role in Africa
  • March 15 – The Korean Peninsula
  • March 22 – Roles of International Organizations in a Global Pandemic
  • March 29 – The End of Globalization?
Schedule is also shown in the WACMB Calendar block nearby. To add a reminder to your personal calendar, click the desired session to expand it and click "copy to my calendar" at the bottom of the listing.

The Foreign Policy Association produces a Briefing Booklet to be used with Great Decisions. The Booklet costs $32 plus shipping, and is highly recommended for those in the program. To order, either call the Foreign Policy Association at 1(800) 477-5836 or go to their website at https://www.fpa.org/great_decisions/?act=gd_materials. Briefing Booklets are no longer available for purchase locally; they must be ordered from the Foreign Policy Association.

After the conclusion of Great Decisions, WACMB will resume its regular discussion group schedule. Like the Great Decisions groups, there will be two of these regular discussion groups: one offered entirely through WACMB, and one offered in partnership with the OLLI program at CSUMB. If you are interested in attending a discussion group, please send an email to info@wacmb.org to indicate your interest.

WACMB Great Decisions Group

This group will be moderated by Judith Glickman and Boyd Haight. Please register in advance by sending an email to WACMB at our new email address: info@wacmb.org. Once registered, you will be sent Zoom links for each session of the discussion group, and information about how to view the video documentaries that provide additional context for the discussions. Participants should plan to view the videos on their own prior to the meetings.

WACMB/OLLI Great Decisions Group

This group will be moderated by John Hetz. Please register in advance online at https://olli.csumb.edu/courses/. Registration opens on January 21 at 10:00 am. Once registered, you will be sent Zoom links for each session and information about how to access the video documentaries, which you will view on your own prior to the meetings.

Passport for November-December 2020

This is an online version of the monthly newsletter of the World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area (WACMB). You may click here to see other online issues or click here to reach the archive of recent issues in PDF format. 

Issues Around the World in the Age of Covid-19

Check your email on the scheduled days for links to these videos

November 15, 2020

Michael Auslin
Stanford University
Asia’s New Geopolitics

The Indo-Pacific is fast becoming the world’s dominant region. Now, as it grows in power and wealth, long-simmering geopolitical competition has re-emerged there. Drawing on his most recent book, entitled Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific (Hoover Institution Press, 2020), Michael Auslin discusses two key issues transforming the region: China’s ambitious foreign and economic policies and North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons.

Auslin is the inaugural Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a senior fellow at Policy Exchange in London, and a senior advisor for Asia at the Halifax International Security Forum. He is the author of six books, including the best-selling The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region. Previously, he was an associate professor of history at Yale University, a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo, and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a longtime contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Foreign Policy, among others.


November 30, 2020

Jonathan Lipman
Mount Holyoke College
The Muslims and Islam in Modern China: Focus on the Uyghurs

About 11 million Uyghurs live in the People’s Republic of China, largely in Xinjiang. In recent years the Chinese government has detained over a million of them, claiming that they hold extremist religious views that are a threat to national security. Many in the international community have accused China of egregious human rights abuses against the Uyghurs. In this presentation, Professor Jonathan Lipman looks at the history and current conditions in Xinjiang, the evidence for widespread abuses, and China’s justifications for its policies and methods.

Trained at Stanford as an historian of early modern and modern China, Jonathan Lipman served on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College from 1977 to 2015. In addition, he has taught as a visiting professor at Doshisha University, Quest University (Canada), Oregon State University, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Washington. Professor Lipman’s research deals primarily with the long-term residence and acculturation of Muslims in China. His 1997 book, Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China, remains a standard history of the subject.


December 15, 2020

Businessman and Author
J. Morris Hicks
Connecting the Dots to a Sustainable Future

The year 2020, with its outbreak of Covid-19, catastrophic forest fires, floods, and recordsetting temperatures, tells us that nature is declining globally and at unprecedented rates. Drawing on his recent book OUTCRY: Urgent Alarms from Our Planet and What We Can Do About Them, J. Morris Hicks discusses both the impact of economic development on the natural environment and what we can do to slow, stop, or reverse the damage we have done to our biosphere. OUTCRY was co-authored with Stuart H. Scott and published on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

An engineer, business executive, and author, J. Morris Hicks earned a BS in industrial engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Hawaii, a degree he earned while serving as an officer in the US Coast Guard and stationed in Honolulu. Over the past decade, he has devoted himself to promoting the global conversation on sustainability and to seeking solutions to the environmental challenges we face.


Discussion Groups

WACMB offers two discussion groups. Both are free, and meet via Zoom from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. If you are interested in participating in a discussion group, please email the WACMB office at wacmb@redshift.com and let us know.

The MPC Discussion Group is moderated by Judith Glickman.
  • Monday, November 2: Ethics of Warfare and Changing Technology
  • Monday, November 16: The Erosion of Democracy in Hungary and Poland
  • Monday, November 30: Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific
  • Monday, December 14: Muslims in China Today, with a Focus on the Uyghurs
The OLLI/CSUMB Discussion Group is moderated by John Hetz
  • Monday, November 9: Topic TBA.
  • Monday, December 14: Topic also TBA.

For more information about WACMB Discussion Groups, click here.


United Nations Association Film Festival

The World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area is pleased to share this announcement from the United Nations Association, which shares WACMB’s interest in international affairs:

The Monterey Bay Chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA announces its 21st annual International Documentary Film Festival. This year, the festival will offer five excellent films from Kenya, Syria, Cambodia, Gaza, and the United States.

The festival will take place from November 14 through November 18. Due to the pandemic, the festival will be completely online this year, and will be accessible from anywhere in the country. A festival pass costs $5, with the fee covering the “per click” cost of presenting the films. Pass holders may access the films at any time during the festival. For further information, go to the UNA*USA website.


A Little Background Information

On November 30, in our video series Issues Around the World in the Age of Covid-19, Dr. Jonathan Lipman, Emeritus Professor at Mount Holyoke College, will speak on “The Muslims and Islam in Modern China: Focus on the Uyghurs.” We’ve been hearing a lot about the Uyghurs lately. But who are the Uyghurs? Here’s some information from Dr. Lipman.

By the 15th century, the vast central region across the Ming state’s western frontier, north of Tibet and southwest of Mongolia, had become largely Muslim. It was incorporated into the great Zunghar empire, the last nomadic state in a long history stretching back to the ancient Xiongnu, and was conquered by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in the mid-18th century. The Qing named this region Xinjiang, the New Frontier.

Its inhabitants did not use a singular ethnonym, but called themselves Musulman (Muslim), Turk (which referred to culture and language, not to national identity), or yarliq (local, meaning “from here).” In the 1920s, under the influence of the Soviet “nationalities policy” (among others), these people gradually came to call themselves, and to be called by others, by the ancient (non-Muslim) name, “Uyghurs.”


An Invitation to All High School Students and Teachers

Our sister World Affairs Council in Dallas/Fort Worth invites high school students and teachers from every WAC across the country to participate in its Global Young Leaders (GYL) Program. This free program, offered online via Zoom, includes student leadership workshops, service projects, career days, competitions, Council speakers, 20 Under 20 programming, internships, teacher workshops, teacher awards, and more. The GYL Program will continue in the spring with many other exciting opportunities.

To register, or for further information, go to this page on the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter’s website. If you are involved with high school education, don’t miss this wonderful, free, socially distanced program!.


Take a Break with a Quick Take!

Did you know that most videos in our Issues Around the World in the Age of Covid-19 series are only about 15 to 20 minutes long? Presented by experts in their fields, these videos are free, and always available in our video library on our website. Get a Quick Take on a quick break today!


Answers to the October Cryptograms

1AI LEZI KSX XS YRHIVWXERH XLEX ALEX AI HS MR XLI ASVPH MW RSX SRPC KSSH JSV XLI ASVPH; MX’W KSSH JSV YW. MX’W RSX E JSVQ SJ TLMPERXLVSTC; MX’W E JSVQ SJ REXMSREP WIGYVMXC.
— VMGLEVH LEEWW
Solution: We have got to understand that what we do in the world is not only good for the world; it’s good for us. It’s not a form of philanthropy; it’s a form of national security. —Richard Haass

2GSVIV ZIV ML ULIVRTM OZMWH; RG RH GSV GIZEVOVI LMOB DSL RH ULIVRTM.
— ILYVIG OLFRH HGVEVMHLM
Solution: There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign. — Robert Louis Stevenson

3UTNG V TNFO QIDNHILE QVRT, “BVPN VQ TFOL,” V’D FBUFEQ
SNDKSNL SI FQZ, “JIDKFONL SI UTFS?”
— QELGNE X. TFOOVQ
Solution: When I hear somebody sigh, “Life is hard,” I’m always tempted to ask, “Compared to what?” — Sydney J. Harris


This is the monthly newsletter of the World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area (WACMB). Founded in 1951, the council is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization established to promote the presentation, discussion, and study of international affairs. WACMB is a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization, EIN-770301206. Contributions are tax deductible as permitted by law. WACMB sponsors monthly luncheons, discussion groups, and student scholarships.

Corporate and institutional support for the World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area is provided by:

  • California State University Monterey Bay
  • Defense Language Institute
  • Monterey Peninsula College
  • Naval Postgraduate School
  • Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
  • Rancho Canada
  • Horan & Lloyd Law Firm

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Discussion Groups, November-December 2020

WACMB offers two discussion groups. Both are free, and meet via Zoom from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. If you are interested in participating in a discussion group, please email the WACMB office at wacmb@redshift.com and let us know.

The MPC Discussion Group is moderated by Judith Glickman.

  • Monday, November 2: Ethics of Warfare and Changing Technology
  • Monday, November 16: The Erosion of Democracy in Hungary and Poland
  • Monday, November 30: Asia’s New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific
  • Monday, December 14: Muslims in China Today, with a Focus on the Uyghurs

The OLLI/CSUMB Discussion Group is moderated by John Hetz

  • Monday, November 9: Topic TBA.
  • Monday, December 14: Topic also TBA.

For more information about WACMB Discussion Groups, click here.