What is Great Decisions?

The Great Decisions program at UNC-Chapel Hill is an outreach program of the Foreign Policy Association. There are over two thousand Great Decisions programs across the U.S. The mission of each program is to facilitate national awareness and critical analysis of the current events that roil foreign affairs.

At Carolina, the Great Decisions program is a class with two core parts. In the fall, an eighteen-member coordinating committee of Carolina’s top undergraduates find eight speakers on eight current international topics and manage the logistical, financial, and administrative aspects of creating a lecture series. Committee members receive one hour of fall semester pass/fail credit. In the spring, the committee members become Teaching Assistants for the class, GLBL 381, which centers on the eight high-profile lectures. Discussion sessions after each lecture are run by the committee members, who also assign weekly readings and create written assignments. Committee members receive three hours of graded credit in the spring for participation in the program and the seminar that follows the lecture series. The Great Decisions Committee is a singular experience in leadership, communication, and management and offers undergraduates a rare opportunity to be Teaching Assistants and meet international leaders. Enrollees in GLBL 381 receive one hour of pass/fail credit. Our motto is critical thinking in a collaborative setting, and our goals include increasing the intellectual climate on campus and engaging tomorrow’s leaders on contemporary events in foreign affairs.

Why is Great Decisions important to UNC?

On campus for over 25 years, UNC Great Decisions  – a participant in a nationwide program under the umbrella of the Foreign Policy Association – is one of the largest in the country. Each year, we bring to UNC speakers who are national and international decision makers, recognized scholars and opinion shapers in a wide range of global issues of pressing import to the local community, the nation and the world.

Over two hundred undergraduates, as well as community participants attend the weekly lectures (eight in all during the Spring semester), held in Carroll Hall, and all lectures are free and open to the public. The eighteen undergraduates who serve as the steering committee for Great Decisions also take the program to the community, through outreach efforts to local retirement and learning centers, where undergraduates and Chapel Hill residents meet to discuss the week’s lecture.

Special thanks to the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Global Initiatives and the Curriculum in Global Studies for their continued support of the Great Decisions program. Without their support and funding, we would not be able to continue to provide the caliber of lectures we’ve held over many years.