Great Decisions FAQ
Great Decisions is America's largest discussion program on world affairs. The program model involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watching the DVD and meeting in a Discussion Group to discuss the most critical global issues facing America today.
Anyone can start a Great Decisions discussion group in their community. The FPA has produced program guides that explain in detail how to start a group in four popular venues.
Great Decisions discussion groups exist in communities all across America. You can use the FPA's "Find a Group Near You" to enter your state and find a group near you.
The Great Decisions discussion program is supported by a number of materials and resources produced by the Foreign Policy Association annually. The following are available in January every year, with pre-order discounts offered as early as October for the upcoming year.
Core materials include:
Supplemental resources include:
Each year, eight topics are chosen by a panel of experts.
The 2017 Great Decisions topics are:
- The future of Europe
- Trade, jobs and politics
- Conflict in the South China Sea
- Saudi Arabia in transition
- U.S. foreign policy and petroleum
- Latin America in transition
- Prospects for Afghanistan and Pakistan
- Nuclear security
Yes. Each year, Great Decisoins discussion program participants are polled about their views on the eight topics discussed. The results are compiled in the National Opinion Ballot Report and distributed to the White House, members of Congress, the departments of State and Defense, the national media and participants in the Great Decisions Discussion Program. The Report is a valuable way of sharing the informed opinions of citizens with the people who shape U.S. foreign policy.
The first "Great Decisions" group was launched in Portland, Oregon in 1954 by FPA's Vice President Roger Mastrude. Based on the so-called "Avon" model of face-to-face, active and informal conversation, participants would read a fact sheet on each of the eight topics before meetings, where they aired their respective views and opinions. FPA would tally up opinion ballots and report the results to the Department of State. The program gained media attention, was picked up by local schools, and soon gained national attention.
The Great Decisions Television Series is temporarily off the air due to staffing shortages.
The Frank R. Cella Memorial Award acknowledges the achievement of individual Great Decisions discussion groups. The Award is not meant for ranking discussion groups, instead, it allows FPA to acknowledge five individual groups and share their contributions and example with the rest of the Great Decisions network.
The Award is named for the late Frank R. Cella, who for 13 years worked at the Foreign Policy Association to promote the Great Decisions Discussion Program and support existing group leaders. Frank also led several discussion groups each year (sometimes as many as five at one time) at Institutes for Learning in Retirement, community centers, libraries and other locations. He brilliantly shared his first-hand experiences with the FPA staff, Great Decisions facilitators and organizers across the country, improving their experience with Great Decisions and helping to fulfill the mission of the Great Decisions Discussion program.
All Great Decisions groups are eligible for nomination, including groups serving a particular locality, community, or professional association; groups based in a workplace, a school, a library, or a retirement community; recently established or long-established groups—that is, any group participating in the Great Decisions network.
Group members may nominate their own group, or an individual outside the group may submit the nomination. Please send nominations by December 31, 2013 to [email protected]