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Great Decisions Lecture Series to Address ‘Power and Empowerment’

Annual forum to be hosted by The College of Wooster beginning Jan. 21

10 January, 2014 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The 2014 Great Decisions lecture series will celebrate its 33rd year with a focus on "Power and Empowerment." Four distinguished speakers comprise the program, which is hosted annually by The College of Wooster.

The series begins with an address by David Sanger of The New York Times, titled "U.S. Foreign Policy Today," on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Gault Recital Hall of Scheide Music Center (525 E. University St.). In his talk, Sanger will focus on what he expects to be the most prominent foreign policy matters covered in President Obama's upcoming State of the Union Address. These include the controversy surrounding the National Security Agency, the resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the continuing instability in Egypt following the ouster of President Morsi. A reporter for more than 30 years, Sanger has covered stories dealing with business, technology, globalization, nuclear proliferation, and Asian affairs. He currently serves as Chief Washington Correspondent reporting on a broad range of strategic issues, including national affairs and foreign policy. His most recent book, a New York Times Best Seller, titled Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power, examines the United States government's secret cyber warfare program and exposes previously unreleased details and interviews with White House officials.

The second lecture features Ivan Vejvoda, vice president for programs at the German Marshall Fund, presenting "Whither the European Union: Between Crisis and Success" on Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 in Gault Recital Hall. Prior to his current post, Vejvoda served as executive director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions in Southeastern Europe. Previous to that, he served as senior advisor on foreign policy and European integration to Prime Ministers Zoran Djindjic and Zoran Zivkovic. Vejvoda has held various academic posts in the United States and the U.K., and was a key figure in the democratic opposition movement in Yugoslavia through the 1990s. He is highly regarded as a source on such topics as democratic transition, totalitarianism, and post-war reconstruction in the Balkans.

Documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim will screen her production of "Rafea: Solar Mama" on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. in Gault Recital Hall of Scheide Music Center. The following day, she will present a lecture over a special Egyptian/North African lunch at noon in Kittredge Dining Hall (535 E. Wayne Ave.). The film is free and open to the public. The luncheon lecture is $13.50 and reservations must be made in advance online. Noujaim has worked on various documentaries in both the Middle East and the United States. Before graduating from Harvard, she was awarded the Gardiner Fellowship for "Mokattam," an Arabic film she directed about a garbage-collecting village near Cairo, Egypt. Noujaim then joined the MTV News and Documentary Division as a segment producer for the documentary series "Unfiltered." Another of her films, "Control Room," which exposes the difference in media coverage between the Arab and the Western world during the United States' war with Iraq, earned Noujaim a coveted TED Prize in 2006, making her the first woman and the youngest individual to win the award.

The series concludes on Tuesday, Feb. 25, when Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta presents "Preventing Conflicts, Ending Wars, Healing Nations, Building Peace" at 7:30 p.m. inGault Recital Hall. Ramos-Horta, who just completed service as head of the United Nations' Integrated Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau, was co-founder of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent Timor-Leste and a key figure in the effort to lead East Timor to independence from Portugal. In 1999, after a long and violent period of Indonesian occupation of East Timor that began soon after Portugal began to dismantle its colonies, the U.N. sponsored a referendum allowing the Timorese people to vote for their independence. In 2002, Ramos-Horta was appointed as Timor-Leste's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. In 2007 he was elected the second President of Timor-Leste. He was critically injured but survived an assassination attempt by a group of the remaining renegade soldiers in 2008. The event, and his survival, proved to be a turning point for the country.

The Great Decisions lecture series is a joint venture between The College of Wooster and the local community. It began in 1981 and has run annually for the past 32 years. The primary purpose of the series is to bring to the region experts from a variety of backgrounds to discuss issues pertaining to foreign policy and international affairs.

Great Decisions is sponsored by the J.M. Smucker Company, First Merit Bank, the Noble Foundation, Meaden & Moore, United Titanium, Seaman Corporation, and The College of Wooster. Additional information about the series is available by phone (330-263-2353), e-mail, or online .