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September 2020 Events

September 1 - 2 | World Affairs Council of Western Michigan | Honoring the "Greatest Generation"

On Tuesday, September 1, at 6:30 p.m. EST and Wednesday, September 2, at 7:00 p..m. EST we present a number of events to honor those who have served, sacrificed and gave their lives in WWII as we note the 75th anniversary of the end of thee war.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 – 6:30 PM
In Memoriam Remembrance and Bell Ringing
Guest Speaker: Jim DeFelice, Co-Author of American Sniper and Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day
Join us for this virtual event on the Ford Presidential Museum's Facebook LIVE page.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 6:00 PM
B-17/C47/B25 Military Planes Flyover
Watch from bridges along the Grand River

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 - 7:00 PM
Countdown 1945
Guest Speaker: Chris Wallace
Join us for this virtual event on the Ford Presidential Museum Facebook LIVE page.

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September 1 | Columbus Council on World Affairs | Women in the World: Global Poverty, Gender, & Race

Around the world women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty. In most countries, women earn 60-75% of men’s wages on average, and this gap widens based on race and ethnicity. A recent study found that 79 countries around the world have laws that restrict the types of work women can do. Globally, women are less likely to own land, receive a secondary education, have access to a banking institution, and in low income communities, maternal mortality rates skyrocket. These statistics are even higher for women of color. Moreover, this inequality has only been further highlighted by the recent impacts of the global pandemic, Covid-19.

And yet, it has been proven that investing in women and girls is beneficial to the economy and society overall. Compared to men, women are more likely to pay off loans and invest their earnings into familial units, having a positive ripple effect in their communities. Moreover, when women and girls have proper access to education and stable financial support, the chance of teen pregnancies, maternal deaths, child marriages, and gender-based violence decreases significantly.

Despite these correlations, it’s projected that global gender equality will not be reached for another 108 years. To help us understand the challenges to global gender equality, especially in-light of Covid-19, the Columbus Council on World Affairs has invited Gayle Smith to lead us in a discussion around this very important topic.

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September 2 | Colorado Springs World Affairs Council | The Complexity of US-China Relations

The U.S.-China relationship is arguably the world’s most important bilateral relationship. As the world’s two largest economies and two of the most populated countries in the world, the relationship between the two countries has an outsized effect not only on the United States and China, but on the entire global community. The two nations have never been more deeply intertwined, yet the bilateral relationship is at its lowest point in decades. ~George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations.

Join us to hear David J. Firestein, the inaugural president and CEO of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations and a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. He is based in Austin, Texas. Prior to this, he was the inaugural executive director of The University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) China Public Policy Center (CPPC) and a clinical professor at UT’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. As CPPC chief, Mr. Firestein led UT’s institutional engagement with China and oversaw innovative interdisciplinary research on China-related domestic and foreign policy topics.

A decorated career U.S. diplomat from 1992–2010, Mr. Firestein specialized primarily in China and U.S.-China relations. He is the author or co-author of three books on China, including two China-published Chinese-language best-sellers. Mr. Firestein speaks Chinese at the near-native level.

Throughout his career, Mr. Firestein has played an active role advancing U.S.-China and U.S.-Asia trade. He has also produced path-breaking thought leadership, scholarship and Capitol Hill testimony on a range of topics, including U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, U.S.-China infrastructure investment cooperation and the role of national exceptionalism as a driver of major international conflict today. He was also a principal architect of the U.S.-China High-Level Political Party Leaders Dialogue.


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September 8 | World Affairs Council of New Hampshire | WACNH Live! The U.S. and China's Great Game

China’s rise to the world’s largest economy cannot be derailed by the United States, but the U.S. will still be a hugely influential actor on the global stage for years to come. America's markets and intellectual capabilities such as technology, research and development, and entrepreneurial sophistication will see to that, but it is also true that China is already the strongest power in the Indo-Pacific, a race that the U.S. has lost. On the other hand, freedom of navigation through the Malacca Strait and in the South China Sea is as important for China as it is for the United States, giving the two great powers no option but to coexist even as they compete. Can the U.S. and China compete, coexist, and avoid sliding into hostilities? This is destined to, and may very well already, be the great game of the 21st Century. 

On Tuesday, September 8th at 6pm, join us for our WACNH Live! Fall debut by hearing from Foreign Policy Association Fellow, Sarwar Kashmerias he lays out his ideas for a fresh American foreign policy to help navigate this new reality. Kashmeri's talk will also be followed by a Q&A.

All questions can be emailed to or posted in either of the YouTube or Facebook Live chats before or during the event, so tune in at and we hope to see you there!

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September 10 | World Affairs Council of Orange County | A webinar with Ambassador (ret) Lawrence E. Butler

Thursday, September 10, 2020 – 1:15 PM PDT

The World Affairs Council of Orange County Presents:


US and NATO: End of an Era?

Ambassador Butler spent 40 years with the U.S. Foreign Service, usually as far from Washington as he could get. Currently he supports U.S. military exercises, including replicating NATO’s role in European scenarios, and playing the role of U.S. Ambassador – scenario dependent, as well as POLAD (Foreign Policy Advisor) to Corps and Division HQs and US Special Forces teams. His final official assignments included: Civilian Deputy to the Commander and POLAD, United States European Command in Stuttgart; Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander, U.S. Forces in Iraq for Operation New Dawn; and Foreign Policy Advisor for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) at SHAPE/Allied Command Operations in Belgium.

While in Iraq 2010-2011, Ambassador Butler guided the US military command in transitioning operational lead to the U.S. Embassy. He engaged directly in mediating tensions between Kurdish and Iraqi forces in the sensitive, oil-rich Kirkuk region,
initiated the process that removed the Iranian MEK from Camp Ashraf while negotiating with the Iraqi Government to minimize violence, provided guidance to the U.S. Commander on engaging with Gulf Allies during this period, including developing a work around on finalizing the seminal F-16 sale to Iraq, and engaged Turkish authorities to moderate rising tensions with the Kurdistan Regional Government.

This was Ambassador Butler’s second involvement with Iraq, having served as President Bush’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Asia, in charge of State Department Iraq policy and operations 2007-2008. Butler orchestrated the “civilian surge” that deployed new Provincial Reconstruction Teams embedded with each of the 15 surge BCTs, and successful engaged in outreach to sustain the coalition, visiting more than 20 non-NATO member countries to keep them involved.

Between Iraq engagements, while at NATO with SACEUR 2008-2010, Ambassador Butler was involved with NATO’s Afghanistan and Balkans operational issues reflecting SACEUR’s role as the higher HQ for ISAF and Kosovo. He regularly visited Afghanistan with SACEUR and provided new thinking for NATO and U.S. policy development, particularly with Afghanistan’s neighbors, as well as guided engagement with both NATO and future NATO alliance members.

Since formal retirement (and a three year period of re-employment by the State Department for special projects and inspections), Ambassador Butler provides subject matter expertise to the Army’s Futures and Concepts Center (FCC) as well as to Geographic Combatant Command, Army Corps, Division, and Brigade-level exercises, with particular focus on INDOPACOM and USEUCOM area of responsibility priorities.

Previous key assignments include: 2005-2007, Ambassador Butler served as the Principal Deputy High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a UN-linked international position responsible for Dayton Peace Accord implementation; He was the US Ambassador to Macedonia, 2002-2005, where he implemented the Ohrid Peace Agreement and helped mentor Macedonia towards Euro-Atlantic integration. As Director for Europe on the White House National Security Council staff, 1997-1999, he was the staff lead for President Clinton in achieving the 1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Peace Accords. Earlier, Ambassador Butler was initially the Deputy Chief of Mission and then acting Chief of Mission in Belgrade, Serbia, supporting efforts that led to the 1995 Dayton Accords, and then enabling their implementation. In 1993, he opened a conflict prevention/human rights monitoring office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission to Kosovo.

Ambassador Butler’s other leadership assignments include tours as Deputy Chief of Mission in Copenhagen and Dublin, and Cold War-era section chief postings in Finland and Bulgaria. In Washington, he worked on European Union trade policy and political
affairs and served as a State Department Operations Center Senior Watch Officer, where he was on duty the day of the attempted Moscow coup of 1991.  Ambassador Butler has received numerous awards, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, multiple Senior Performance Pay awards, and State Department Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor Awards. He was educated at Bowdoin College (Maine), Michigan (MBA) and Princeton (MCF). He speaks Portuguese, Finnish, Bulgarian, Macedonia, Serbian, Swedish and Danish, can hold his own in Spanish and can cheerfully insult people in German and French without understanding the responses.

Ambassador Butler’s education includes high school in Brazil, a BA from Bowdoin College, MBA program at UMichigan and MCF at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. He is a proud Army brat, born at Fort Benning into an Army family with Maine roots. His father earned the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart in Korea in 1950 and posthumously a Silver Star in Vietnam. He and his wife Linda have a seasonal home in Maine and enjoy winter and water sports, tennis, and hiking. He was an international ice hockey referee for 15 years. They have one adult son.

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September 10 | World Affairs Council of Greater Reading | India in the COVID-19 Era – Can Modi Turn the Tide With Milan Vaishnav

Milan Vaishnav is a senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His primary research focus is the political economy of India, and he examines issues such as corruption and governance, state capacity, distributive politics, and electoral behavior.

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September 10 | World Affairs Council of Philadelphia | Moving Forward: How Do We Unite Americans in 2021 and Beyond?

Join the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia for a conversation with General Wesley Clark (ret.), Founder of Renew America Together, and the Honorable Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland, to hear how they believe we can bring our country together.

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September 15 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | General John Allen, President of Brookings

The Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall is pleased to host John R. Allen, President of the Brookings Institution and retired four-star Marine Corps General, who will provide a timely reflection on American leadership - and America's role - in the 21st century, as well as a forecast of US policy efforts in a number of critical international spaces, to include the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia. 

**NOTE: This program will take place at 10:30am. Our other Election Series programs will be at 11:00 am.**

John Rutherford Allen assumed the presidency of the Brookings Institution in November 2017, having most recently served as a distinguished fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings. Allen is a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.

Allen served in two senior diplomatic roles following his retirement from the Marine Corps. First, for 15 months as senior advisor to the secretary of defense on Middle East Security, during which he led the security dialogue for the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. President Barack Obama then appointed Allen as special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, a position he held for 15 months. Allen’s diplomatic efforts grew the coalition to 65 members, effectively halting the expansion of ISIL. In recognition of this work, he was presented the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award by Secretary John Kerry and the Director of National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Award by Director James Clapper.

Robert J. Abernethy (Moderator) is Chairman of American Standard Development Company. He received a BA from Johns Hopkins University, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, certificates in Real Estate and Construction from UCLA and was formerly the Controller of the Technology Division of Hughes Aircraft Company. He is on the boards of Johns Hopkins, Brookings and New America. He serves as a Vice Chairman of The Atlantic Council and of The Los Angeles Music Center. 


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September 16 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | A Conversation with Dr. Fiona Hill

Dr. Fiona Hill is a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. She recently served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council from 2017 to 2019. From 2006 to 2009, she served as national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at The National Intelligence Council. She is co-author of “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin” (Brookings Institution Press, 2015).  

Dr. Hill, who testified in the presidential impeachment inquiry last year, will discuss foreign interference in U.S. elections, Russia’s relations with the West, and President Vladimir Putin with moderator Robert J. Abernethy, Brookings Trustee, and Vice Chairman of the Atlantic Council.


Hill holds a master’s in Soviet studies and a doctorate in history from Harvard University where she was a Frank Knox Fellow. She also holds a master’s in Russian and modern history from St. Andrews University in Scotland, and has pursued studies at Moscow’s Maurice Thorez Institute of Foreign Languages. Hill is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Robert J. Abernethy (Moderator) is Chairman of American Standard Development Company. He received a BA from Johns Hopkins University, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, certificates in Real Estate and Construction from UCLA and was formerly the Controller of the Technology Division of Hughes Aircraft Company. He is on the boards of Johns Hopkins, Brookings and New America. He serves as a Vice Chairman of The Atlantic Council and of The Los Angeles Music Center. 

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September 16 | World Affairs Council of Orange County | Webinar With Professors Thomas Fingar and Jean Oi

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020 – 1:15 PM PDT

The World Affairs Council of Orange County Presents:

Fateful Decisions: China’s Domestic Challenges and their Implications for US/China Relations

A free webinar with Professors Thomas Fingar and Jean Oi

The current narrative depicting China as an unstoppable juggernaut determined to displace the United States atop the international system underestimates the magnitude of looming domestic challenges and overestimates the likelihood that political leaders will make effective policy choices.  Jean Oi and Thomas Fingar will describe key challenges, constraints, and choices facing Chinese leaders and examine their implications for US-China relations.

Questions you might wish to pose:

  • Many commentators discuss China’s rise and future prospects in almost mechanistic terms but you emphasize the importance of political choices and factors that will shape policy decisions.  Can you explain why you take this approach?
  • Your new book examines a wide range of looming domestic and foreign policy challenges.  Could you enumerate and describe some of these challenges? 
  • Many now claim that the US policy of engagement with China was foolish and unsuccessful.  Do you agree with that assessment?

Dr. Thomas Fingar is a Shorenstein APARC Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He was the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow in 2010-2015 and the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford in 2009.  From 2005 through 2008, he served as the first Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and, concurrently, as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Dr. Fingar served previously as Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2000-2001 and 2004-2005), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (2001-2003), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Analysis (1994-2000), Director of the Office of Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific (1989-1994), and Chief of the China Division (1986-1989). Between 1975 and 1986 he held a number of positions at Stanford University, including Senior Research Associate in the Center for International Security and Arms Control. Dr. Fingar is a graduate of Cornell University (A.B. in Government and History, 1968), and Stanford University (M.A., 1969 and Ph.D., 1977 both in Political Science).  His most recent books are Reducing Uncertainty:  Intelligence Analysis and National Security (Stanford, 2011), The New Great Game: China and South and Central Asia in the Era of Reform, editor (Stanford, 2016), Uneasy Partnerships: China and Japan, the Koreas, and Russia in the Era of Reform, editor (Stanford, 2017), and Fateful Decisions: Choices that Will Shape China’s Future, edited with Jean C. Oi (Stanford, 2020).

Jean C. Oi is the William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics in the Department of Political Science and a Senior Fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford University.  She also directs the China Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at FSI and is the founding Lee Shau Kee Director of the Stanford Center at Peking University.  A PhD in political science from the University of Michigan, Oi first taught at Lehigh University and later in the department of government at Harvard University before joining the Stanford faculty in 1997.

Oi has published extensively on political economy and the process of reform in China.  Recent books include Fateful Decisions: Choices That Will Shape China’s Future, co-edited with Thomas Fingar (2020); Zouping Revisited: Adaptive Governance in a Chinese County, co-edited with Steven Goldstein (2018); and Challenges in the Process of China’s Urbanization, co-edited with Karen Eggleston and Yiming Wang (2017).  Recent articles include “Reflections on Forty Years of Rural Reform” in Jacques deLisle and Avery Goldstein, eds., To Get Rich is Glorious: Challenges Facing China’s Economic Reform and Opening at Forty (2019); “China’s Challenges: Now it Gets Much Harder,” co-authored with Thomas Finger, The Washington Quarterly (Spring 2020); and “After COVID-19: Rebooting Business in China,” co-authored with Jennifer Choo, Christopher Thomas, and Xue (Xander) Wu, The Diplomat (July 2020). 

Her current research continues to explore central-local relations, including local government debt.  She is also in the early stages of a project on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.   

Summary of Fateful Decisions: Press Here for Summary of Book
Purchase Fateful DecisionsPress Here to Purchase
Listen to Their Podcast: Press Here to Listen

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September 17 | World Affairs Council of Western Michigan | A Conversation with Ambassador Martha Barcena

On Thursday, September 17, at 11 a.m. EST, the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan will engage Her Excellency Martha Bárcena Coqui, the Ambassador of Mexico to the United States for a lively conversation about issues of importance to Mexico and its North American neighbors. Much has changed since Ambassador Bárcena visited West Michigan in 2019. Yet the ties that bind Michigan and Mexico remain. Join us for a conversation with the Ambassador, where she will speak on North American trade relations post-USMCA; the continuing COVID-19 crisis; and the Mexican-U.S. relationship.


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September 17 | Colorado Springs World Affairs Council | Diplomacy, the Key to America’s Global Role

The United States finds itself at a foreign policy crossroads. Our new international environment might be more conducive to a US-first strategy, or perhaps issues such as the Covid-19 global pandemic, climate change, and economic competition lend themselves more to cooperative, multilateral solutions. Either way, US diplomacy has a key role to play.

This program is part of the World Affairs Councils of America 2020 Engage America Series: State of the State Department and Professional Diplomacy in partnership with the American Academy of Diplomacy


Thomas C. Krajeski served in the U.S. Foreign Service for more than 36 years. His final assignment was Senior Advisor for Partner Engagement on Foreign Fighters in the Bureau of Counterterrorism at the State Department in 2015.
He was the Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain from October 30th, 2011 until December 20, 2014.

Krajeski was the Senior Vice President of the National Defense University (NDU) from 2009-2011. He oversaw NDU’s international programs and provided foreign policy perspective and advice to the University community. Krajeski served at the US Embassy in Baghdad as the Senior Advisor to the Ambassador on Northern Iraq Affairs in 2008-09. In 2007-08, he was the Director of Career Development and Assignments for the State Department in Washington.

On July 30, 2004, he was sworn in as the American Ambassador to the Republic of Yemen where he served as the Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa until July 4, 2007. From 2001 to 2004, Krajeski was the Deputy Director, and subsequently, the Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq) in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. From July to October 2003, Krajeski served as a political advisor on Ambassador L. Paul Bremer’s staff at The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad.

Since entering the Foreign Service in June 1979, Krajeski served also in Nepal, India, Poland, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. His Washington assignments include the India Desk and the Operations Center.

Krajeski received the President’s Distinguished Service Award in 2007 for his service in Iraq and Yemen. The State Department has awarded him five Superior Honor Awards.

Krajeski studied Russian language and literature at the University of Massachusetts and at the University of North Carolina. He is married to Bonnie Palder Krajeski, a math teacher. They have three children and three grandchildren.

In 2015, Amb. Krajeski assumed the role of Senior Advisor for Partner Engagement on Syria Foreign Fighters.

Ambassador Thomas C. KrajeskiWACA logoAAD Logo

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September 21 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | A Conversation with Anne-Marie Slaughter

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 redefined national security for the U.S. What does it mean for Americans to be safe and secure in this COVID-19 pandemic world? 

Anne-Marie Slaughter is the CEO of New America, a think and action tank located in Washington, D.C. Dr. Slaughter will be joined by moderator Robert J. Abernethy, Chairman, American Standard Development Co., Inc. and Board Member, New America, and LAWACTH. He is Vice Chairman of the Atlantic Council.

She is also the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. From 2009–2011, she served as director of policy planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hold that position. Upon leaving the State Department she received the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award for her work leading the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, as well as meritorious service awards from USAID and the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.

Dr. Slaughter has written or edited eight books; she is a contributing editor to the Financial Times and writes a bi-monthly column for Project Syndicate. She received a B.A. from Princeton, an M.Phil and D.Phil in international relations from Oxford, where she was a Daniel M. Sachs Scholar, and a J.D. from Harvard.



Robert J. Abernethy (Moderator) is Chairman of American Standard Development Company. He received a BA from Johns Hopkins University, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, certificates in Real Estate and Construction from UCLA and was formerly the Controller of the Technology Division of Hughes Aircraft Company. He is on the boards of Johns Hopkins, Brookings and New America. He serves as a Vice Chairman of The Atlantic Council and of The Los Angeles Music Center. 

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September 22 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | A Conversation with Author Jill Lepore

Writers Bloc and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall present: 

Long before the world grew concerned about the invasive practices of Cambridge Analytica, Google, and Facebook, there was the Simulmatics Corporation, a short-lived data analytics pioneer created and run by oddballs, from charismatic self-promoters to eccentric social scientists.  Hatched in the late 1950's, the Simulmatics Corporation unwittingly became the prototype for the ever-present Google, creating a mechanism to mine every detail of human behavior-- for commercial and political profit.  Their simulator, which they christened "the People Machine," churned out predictions on voting behavior, for example, that was sold to the JFK campaign for the 1960 Presidential election.  Madison Avenue would also use Simulmatics, and thus it became the new prophet. Jill Lepore, in her thrilling new book, If Then, explores the nature and range of The People Machine-- and its goal to predict behavior, whether commercial or political, and manipulate the outcome opinions and behavior as well.  Lepore, staff writer for The New Yorker, and the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard, excavates a forgotten company whose legacy in predictive analytics is nothing short of the data-mad, algorithmic world we live in now, besieged by the next notification informing what we'll buy, what matters to us, and how we'll vote.

In conversation with Dan Schnur, Professor at the Annenberg School of Communications at USC and at the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.  He is the founder of the USC/L.A. Times Statewide Poll.

You may order “If Then” direct to home by following this link - Or you can order curbside pickup (or shipping direct to home) by sending an email to or calling the bookstore at (323)465-1334.

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September 22 | World Affairs Council of Western Michigan | Talking Java: The Future of Coffee

The Council welcomes the world’s youngest coffee Q grader, 14-year-old Frankie Volkema of Grand Rapids, to talk about global coffee and what she’s learned about connecting with coffee growers in Burundi and Columbia. Joven, which means "youth" in Spanish, is a brand developed by Volkema to help raise awareness of young farmers in the coffee industry and the steps we can take to create a more sustainable and brighter future, one sip at a time. 

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September 22 | Tennessee World Affairs Council | Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at a Crossroad

Something extraordinary is happening in Saudi Arabia. A traditional, tribal society once known for its lack of tolerance is rapidly implementing significant economic and social reforms. An army of foreign consultants is rewriting Saudi Arabia’s social contract, King Salman is cracking down hard on corruption, and his dynamic though inexperienced son, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is promoting a more tolerant brand of Islam. But is all this a new vision for Saudi Arabia or merely a mirage likely to dissolve into a more autocratic police state or an Iranian-style religious revolution?

David H. Rundell – widely regarded as one of America’s foremost experts on Saudi Arabia – explains why the country has been so surprisingly stable for so long, is less stable today, and what is likely to happen there in the future. “Vision or Mirage” demystifies the world’s last strategically important absolute monarchy. It will prove valuable to anyone interested in global energy markets, the Arab-Israeli conflict, counterterrorism or regional stability in the Middle East.

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September 23 | World Affairs Council of New Hampshire | GTP: Climate Change and National Security

Join the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire and the League of Conservation Voters on Wed., September 23rd at 5:30pm for the first installment in our virtual, star-studded Global Tipping Points speaker series this Fall! Our kickoff event will be headlined by former United States Navy Admiral James Stavridis, who will share his insights on the convergence of national security and climate change based on his extensive experiences. After his remarks, Stavridis will be joined by former Deputy Under Secretaries of Defense Sherri Goodman and John Conger for a panel discussion examining what many National Security experts view as our country's most pressing threat: Climate Change.

Following the opening remarks, a moderated Question and Answer session will be held. All questions can be emailed to or posted in either of the YouTube or Facebook Live chats before or during the event, so tune in at and we hope to see you there!

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September 23 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | The Impact of China's Rise on Southeast Asia

Today, Southeast Asia stands uniquely exposed to the waxing power of the new China. Three of its nations border China and five are directly impacted by its claims over the South China Sea. All dwell in the lengthening shadow of its influence: economic, political, military, and cultural. As China seeks to restore its former status as Asia’s preeminent power, the countries of Southeast Asia face an increasingly stark choice: flourish within Beijing’s orbit or languish outside of it. Meanwhile, as rival powers including the United States take concerted action to curb Chinese ambitions, the region has emerged as an arena of heated strategic competition.

Drawing on more than a decade of on-the-ground experience, Sebastian Strangio explores the impacts of China’s rise on Southeast Asia, the varied ways in which the countries of the region are responding, and what it might mean for the future balance of power in the Indo-Pacific.

Click on the link to purchase Sebastian Strangio's new book "In the Dragon's Shadow" from Chevalier's Bookstore: In the Dragon's Shadow


Sebastian Strangio is a journalist, author, and analyst focusing on Southeast Asia. Since 2008, his writing from the region has appeared in Foreign PolicyThe New York TimesThe EconomistThe New RepublicForbes, Al Jazeera, and The Atlanticamong many other publications. In addition to living and working in Cambodia, where he spent three years reporting at The Phnom Penh Post, he has also reported from Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, South Korea, and the Russian Far East.

Donald K. Emmerson (Moderator) is Director of the Southeast Asia Forum (SEAF) at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. In addition, Prof. Emmerson is an associated scholar with the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies. He is also a senior fellow emeritus in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. His current research focuses on relations between Southeast Asia and China. Professor Emmerson also edited and recently published a book, The Deer and the Dragon: Southeast Asia and China in the 21st Century.

A special thank you to our Event Partner:

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September 25 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | How to Make a Difference

On September 25th, 2020, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall will be hosting a special program for high school students in line with High School Voter Education Week. Led by Politics Professor Dan Schnur, our panel of speakers will engage students in a non-partisan discussion on:

The 2020 election & the election process

Why youth involvement in politics & government matters

The diverse ways students can become civically engaged & actively participate in our democracy

A panel discussion will be followed by a ~ 40-minute Q & A portion, during which students will be able to contribute their own thoughts and ideas, and ask their own questions.

This program will be a follow up to our 2019 Youth Diplomacy Forum, which aimed to provide opportunities for LA high school students to interact with, and learn from, leaders in world affairs by bringing together close to 300 high school students and consulate representatives. Although circumstances make it impossible for us to host a similar in-person event this year, we’re hopeful that by hosting an online discussion with engaging polls, graphics, videos, a digital booklet, and a great and diverse panel of experts, we can provide an enriching and interactive program for high school students to learn more about the important role they play as community leaders and future voters.


Dan Schnur (Moderator) is a Professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications, the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, where he teaches courses in politics, communications and leadership. Dan was the director of the Sacramento Bee’s “California Influencers” series, in which he led a weekly online conversation among 100 of the state’s most respected experts in politics, government and public policy around the 2018 election. He is also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

Aaron Aranza (he/him/his) is a fourth-year UC Berkeley undergraduate studying political science and human rights. Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Aaron has long maintained an interest in the relationship between identity and civic participation. He has previously worked at the U.S. House of Representatives, the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute, among other policy-minded groups. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Aaron plans on earning his J.D. and eventually practicing civil rights law in our nation’s capital.  

Meanna Gray recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a major in Political Science and a minor in African American Studies. At UC Berkeley, she was president of the Black Pre-Law Association, and the Chief Justice on the ASUC Judicial Council. Meanna has also worked as a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow and JusticeCorps Fellow, and plans to attend law school to become a federal appellate judge while founding non-profits for foster youth.

Jazmine Muñoz (she/they) is a senior at UC Berkeley, studying Political Science and Ethnic Studies. At Berkeley, she co-facilitates a course in which underrepresented students are encouraged to apply for graduate or professional school and serves as an opinion writer for the Berkeley Political Review, Berkeley's first and only nonpartisan political magazine on campus. Jazmine plans to go to law school and practice immigration law.


** We are able to offer teachers rosters of their students’ attendance and level of participation**

We welcome all interested teachers & their students to join us for this program! To participate, please contact Krystsina Shabanava at

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September 29 | Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall | Speaking with CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla

Join California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a conversation with Politics Professor Dan Schnur on the Nov. 3 elections and the 2020 Census. With an estimated 21 million registered voters in California and more than 72% already signed up for universal mail voting, what are the key dates Californians should know to ensure their votes count? How does the statewide vote-by-mail tracking system work? Will there be safe in-person voting locations where I live? What is the length of time for County registrars to count ballots? Secretary Padilla will also provide updates on California’s participation in Census 2020.


Alex Padilla is the California Secretary of State. He is focused on modernizing the office, increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights.  He sponsored legislation in 2015 to establish vote centers, expand early voting, and implement same-day conditional voter registration through the Voter’s Choice Act. In 2018, he launched the California Motor Voter program, which automatically registers eligible Californians to vote when they obtain or renew their state ID or driver’s license. The program registered one million new voters in its first year alone. Secretary Padilla oversaw the state’s historic General Election in 2018 where 64.5 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. This represented the highest turnout for a Gubernatorial Election since 1982. In February of 2020, California reached a record of more than 20.6 million registered voters.Previously, he served two terms in the San Fernando Valley in the California State Senate and represented the east San Fernando Valley on the Los Angeles City Council.

Dan Schnur (Moderator) is a Professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications, the University of California – Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, where he teaches courses in politics, communications and leadership. Dan was the director of the Sacramento Bee’s “California Influencers” series, in which he led a weekly online conversation among 100 of the state’s most respected experts in politics, government and public policy around the 2018 election. He is also a board member of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall.

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