Library Closed Monday, May 27, for Memorial Day

Please be aware the library will be closed Monday, May 27, for Memorial Day. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, May 28. Thank you!

Great Decisions 2023

It’s pretty difficult to look away from the fact that the world—on multiple levels—is a more compact, more interconnected place than it once seemed to be. From the dissemination of information to the transmission of illness, everything seems to spread faster these days.

Don’t read anything into that comment—it’s not a political statement of any stripe. It’s a fact-based observation. Events occur, protocols are implemented, enforced or ignored, and an array of institutions and organizations either attempt to rise to the occasion or fall somewhat short of their goals for a wide range of reasons.

However, regardless of what transpires on a global level, one constant remains absolutely rock-solid: knowledge is power. And there may be no better source of familiarizing oneself with the activities and situations taking place around the world than the Great Decisions lecture series.

I’ve been involved with Great Decisions at Manitowoc Public Library since I became a member of their amazing staff. One notion that’s always placed front-and-center whenever it’s time to call attention to the upcoming lecture season is the following: “As global events have increasingly become domestic concerns, the Great Decisions series has become a more vital resource than ever before. It takes you beyond the headlines with essential background information, relevant facts, ever-shifting policy options, and impartial analysis.” Never has this sentiment rang so true or seemed so relevant when it comes to sourcing accurate information from unbiased sources. Because facts matter. And gathering accurate facts always trumps the mere confirmation of biases.

It’s with more than a little pride that I can announce that Manitowoc Public Library will be presenting Great Decisions 2023, our sixteenth consecutive year of hosting this preeminent eight-week grassroots lecture series.

We’ll be presenting Great Decisions 2023 in a hybrid format to allow as many information seekers to partake in the lectures as possible in the manner with which they’re comfortable. All of the lectures will be taking place in-person in the Balkansky Community Room with one exception—Professor Alise Coen’s “Climate Migration” lecture on February 13 will be taking place exclusively online.

While the lectures are being presented live in the Balkansky Room at 6 PM every Monday evening in February and March (with the exception of February 13), they will also be simultaneously livestreamed on both our Facebook page ( and our YouTube channel. This way, anyone with a thirst for knowledge and an Internet connection that can’t be at MPL in-person will have the opportunity to discover, discuss, and decide how to meet some of the world’s greatest challenges head-on, as well.

And should the need arise—not that we’re anticipating anything out-of-the-ordinary—we’re absolutely capable of switching to an online-only broadcast. Trust us: we much prefer to have everyone gathered in the Balkansky to partake in the lectures in-person. But, let’s not forget that it IS Wisconsin and it IS winter. Weather-related circumstances definitely arise from time-to-time. It’s good to have a system in-place where the lectures can still be presented as scheduled should it become impractical for a speaker to safely travel to Manitowoc. The absolute best way to check for the latest information is to head to Additionally, our Facebook page ( access to the most up-to-date information.

The best part is that, as per usual, every lecture will be presented live. In-person and online attendees will have a real-time experience. And, after each lecture, everyone has the opportunity to participate in the Q&A sessions that precede them. If someone is following along online, all they need to do is type a comment or question into the “Comments” box, hit “Send,” and I’ll convey what they have to say to that week’s expert.

The lecture specifics are as follows:

February 6       Energy Politics, Pablo Toral, PhD, Beloit College

February 13     Climate Migration, Alise Coen, PhD, UW-Green Bay (Online Only)

February 20     Iran at a Crossroads, Beth Dougherty, PhD, Beloit College

February 27     Politics in Latin America, Martin Farrell, PhD, Ripon College (Retired)

March 6           China and the U.S., David Fields, PhD, UW-Madison

March 13         Economic Warfare, Pablo Toral, PhD, Beloit College

March 20         War Crimes, Kevin Kelly, J.D., UW-Madison Law School

March 27         Global Famine, Elizabeth Wheat, PhD, UW-Green Bay

It’s important to note that the Great Decisions series is a product of the Foreign Policy Association. This nonpartisan, non-profit organization has dedicated itself to a single cause—to increase American awareness of global affairs. In 1918, 141 Americans came together to support President Wilson and his efforts to achieve a just peace. This group was called the League of Free Nations Association. In 1923, they became the Foreign Policy Association, the name by which they are still known. Their mission was, and still is, to study all sides of international questions that may affect the U.S. In 1954, the first Great Decisions program was launched and it’s still going strong sixty-nine years later.

Any discussion about Great Decisions wouldn’t be complete without expressing gratitude to all those that make it possible. The series is generously sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Manitowoc County, Manitowoc Public Library Foundation, Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and Lakeshore Pax Christi. Their support is tremendously appreciated. Should you feel so inclined to lend your financial support to the Great Decisions series, we would once again direct you to the program’s landing page ( where information regarding that possibility is readily available.

Whether you’ll be attending online or joining us in the Balkansky Room, we look forward to seeing you! It’s going to be another great year of Great Decisions!

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