act now for our future signage




10:30 am to 12:00 pm

note change in date and time!


4/17, 4/24, 5/1, 5/8, 5/15 & 5/22

Six Sessions

This course will be offered online via the free, easy-to-use Zoom program.

Each week, we will follow the Great Decision curriculum that allows for in-depth examination and discussion of current international challenges through the lens of national interests.  Topics for spring 2020 will be:

Climate Change: Climate change has become one of the defining issues of our time. As much of the world bands together to come up with a plan, the U.S. remains the notable holdout. What is the rest of the world doing to combat climate change? What impact will the effects of climate change have on global geopolitics?

India and Pakistan: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode a wave of Hindu nationalism to a historic reelection in 2019. His first order of business was to revoke the special status granted to the Kashmir region, inflaming the rivalry between India and Pakistan. How will the Kashmir situation affect the region, both economically and politically?

Red Sea Security: The Red Sea has remained vital for global trade since the time of ancient Egypt. Once home to the spice trade, the Red Sea now sees millions of barrels of oil a day transported across its waters. With major nations like China, France, Italy, and the U.S. building large ports and bases in the region, what does the future of the region look like? How important is Red Sea security for global security? Can the region be a place of global cooperation?

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: Almost every nation has enacted laws criminalizing human trafficking, and international organizations, governments, and NGOs sponsor a large variety of projects to curb trafficking and slavery. Billions of dollars have been allocated to these efforts. What is the international community doing to combat slavery and trafficking? What are the experiences like for those being trafficked?

U.S. Relations with the Northern Triangle: Combatting illegal immigration has become a priority of the Trump administration. The Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, is a special target of the administration, which hold the nations responsible for the large flow of migrants from Latin America to the U.S. With funds from the U.S. cut, how can the Northern Triangle countries curtail migration?

China’s Road into Latin America: As the Trump administration continues to withdraw from the world stage, China is looking to fill the void. How does Latin America fit into China’s “One Belt, One Road” plan? How will the relationship with China affect the region? Should the U.S. be concerned about China’s growing “sphere of influence?” 

John Dickson served 26 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, with assignments in Nigeria, South Africa, Peru, Mexico, and Canada, as well as in Washington DC.  He is active in local history projects in Pittsfield while continuing international work through two Peace Corps alumni organizations: Encore de la Paix and the Peace Corps Community for Refugees.  He holds degrees in history from Princeton University and the University of Massachusetts.

Course Readings for class 1, April 17th:



Course Readings for class 2, April 24th:


GDClimate change.pdf

Course Readings for class 3, April 30th:

New YorkerPartition.docx


Course Readings for class 5, May 8th:

What Happens if Oil Doesn't Recover.docx

Great Decisions Red Sea.pdf

Course Readings for class 5, May 15th:

William Burns Make or Break Test Atlantic .docx

Great Decisions Northern Triangle.pdf


Course Readings for class 6, May 22nd:

Great Decisions Human Trafficking.pdf

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OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College
Partners in education with Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

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