Great Decisions Lecture Series Returns to Manitowoc Public Library for 17th Consecutive Season

The following article was written by Tim Gadzinski, the Marketing Associate for the Manitowoc Public Library.

It’s not all that uncommon to hear people say that if you want to avoid talking about politics, don’t have political discussions. Which, on the surface, seems like easy advice to follow.

However, the reality of the situation would appear to be an entirely different story. No matter where you turn media-wise these days—be it major network news, alternative press, or straight up pop culture mass media—it feels as if one is constantly tip-toing through a partisan minefield regardless of how everyday a topic may be.

If you like or dislike a specific light adult beverage, there’s a good chance that someone else is going to take issue with your choice because of something as small as their advertising and marketing. A mainstream Hollywood movie about a sentient doll gets everyone up-in-arms for one reason or another. The mere existence of certain pop music stars with which the public has become obsessed has everyone worked into a froth from nearly every vantage point.

Wherever you look, it’s a war of opinions, with inherent biases squaring-up to do battle. Seriously, though, aren’t there more important issues and situations to which we should be directing our attention?

There is one place, however, where any number of more expansive topics can be found on an ongoing basis—the public library. The truth of the matter is that libraries remain safe havens open to everyone, warehouses of knowledge of every stripe. Just look at Manitowoc Public Library’s Mission Statement, which plainly spells out that we’re here to provide access to information. Through our “services we strive to foster an environment that meets the educational, recreational and cultural needs of the community.” Not just a portion of the community, but the entirety of it.

It’s also a fact that the world has become a more compact, more interconnected place than once it seemingly was. 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. Which without question affects us on the home front. Therefore, while our community may appear at first glance to be our immediate geographic area, a closer, more accurate look reveals that we’re part of the larger global community, too.

Regardless of what transpires on a global level or in the culture wars that constantly flare up, one rock-solid constant remains: knowledge is power. Because facts matter. Sourcing accurate information from unbiased sources matters. And conveying accurate facts always trumps the mere confirmation of biases.

There may be no better source of familiarizing oneself with the activities and situations of import taking place around the world than the ones addressed during the Great Decisions lecture series at Manitowoc Public Library.

It’s with more than a little pride that I can announce that Manitowoc Public Library will be presenting Great Decisions 2024, our seventeenth consecutive year of hosting this preeminent eight-week grassroots lecture series.

Once again, we’ll be presenting Great Decisions 2024 in a hybrid format. All of the lectures will be taking place in-person in the Balkansky Community Room with two exception—Professor Alise Coen’s “Middle East Alignment, Part 1” lecture on February 12 and Professor Eunsook Jung’s “Understanding Indonesia” on March 18, which will be taking place exclusively online.

While the lectures are presented live in the Balkansky Room at 6 PM every Monday evening in February and March (with the exception of February 12 and March 18), 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.

The best part is that every lecture will be 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 5       Climate Technology, Pablo Toral, PhD, Beloit College

February 12     Middle East Alignment, Part 1, Alise Coen, PhD, UWGB (Online Only)

February 19     Middle East Alignment, Part 2, Beth Dougherty, PhD, Beloit College

February 26     Science and AI, Matthew Friedel, PhD, UW-Milwaukee

March 4           NATO’s Future, Martin Farrell, PhD, Ripon College (Retired)

March 11         US-China Trade Rivalry, David Fields, PhD, UW-Madison

March 18         Understanding Indonesia, Eunsook Jung, PhD, UW-Madison (Online Only)

March 25         High Seas Treaty, 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, Manitowoc Public Library, and Lakeshore Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Their continued support is appreciated tremendously. 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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