Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dakota County Library hosting foreign policy discussion forum

Starting this month, Dakota County Library will host Great Decisions, a non-partisan discussion forum that features presentations from topic experts and provides opportunities for education and conversation on important American foreign policy issues. Participants are encouraged to read the Great Decisions booklet available at the Galaxie Library information desk, 14955 Galaxie Ave., Apple Valley. The following programs are planned at Galaxie Library:
"Russia and the Near Abroad" with Tom Hanson
6:30–8 p.m. Tuesday, March 10
Discussion overview:
As calls for closer ties with the EU failed to be met, Ukrainians took to the streets in November 2013. As the movement later known as the Euromaidan, or "Euro Square," pulled western Ukraine closer to its European neighbors, another powerful force threatened to tear away the country's eastern half: Russia. Putin's pushback against European expansionism has the West wondering: If Putin's Russia isn't afraid to take an aggressive stance against Europeanization in Ukraine, what does that mean for the rest of Russia's neighbors?
Tom Hanson is a foreign policy consultant and a former career U.S. Foreign Service Officer. He serves as program secretary of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations, Diplomat in Residence at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and board member of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights (U.S. Foundation).
"Human Trafficking in the 21st Century" with Michelle Garrett McKenzie
6:30–8 p.m. Tuesday, March 24
Discussion overview:
The international trade in human trafficking is a multibillion dollar a year industry and one of the fastest-growing criminal industries. While undeniably a global phenomenon, the U.S., as one of the world's leading human trafficking importers, bears a special responsibility to combat this practice. The U.S. and the international community have adopted various treaties and laws to prevent trafficking, but to truly understand and combat the issue, they must find the root causes enabling traffickers to exploit millions of victims.
Michele Garnett McKenzie is the Advocacy Director at The Advocates for Human Rights. She is responsible for policy advocacy and community and coalition engagement around The Advocates' priority issues, including human trafficking, refugee and immigrant rights, and diaspora community engagement.
"Sectarianism in the Middle East" with Gary Prevost
6:30–8 p.m. Tuesday, April 14
Discussion overview:
Many of the current conflicts in the Middle East have been attributed to sectarianism, a politicization of ethnic and religious identity. From the crisis in Iraq and Syria to the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the struggle between Sunni and Shi'i groups for dominance is tearing apart the region and shows no signs of abating. How does sectarianism fit into a larger narrative of the Middle East?
Gary Prevost is professor of political science and international relations at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University. He is also the author of numerous books and articles on revolutionary parties and social movements, including, "Social Movements and Leftist Governments in Latin America: Confrontation or Co-optation?"
"Syria's Refugee Crisis" with Robert Carlson
6:30–8 p.m. Tuesday, April 28
Discussion overview:
Syrians have for a century welcomed more than a million refugees from Armenia, Palestine, Iraq and other countries around the region. Now, thanks to a multiyear civil war, they are on track to become the source of the world's largest refugee population in a matter of months. As Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other neighbors strive to accommodate the millions of Syrians, the risk of allowing Syrians to become dependent on emergency aid and forming a "lost generation" remains. Ultimately, though, the safety of displaced Syrians rests with the whole international community.
Bob Carlson is a retired agribusiness consultant whose corporate experience included 20 years with Cargill, mainly in the oilseed processing division, as well as shorter periods with two other oilseed processors. He conducted consulting projects in Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.
For more information, visit www.dakotacounty.us/library and search Great Decisions or call 651-450-2943.

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