FAQs


What are the topics for Great Decisions 2017?
The Great Decisions 2017 topics Topic Information can be found here.


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Where can I find a Great Decisions discussion group in my area?
Visit the Tucson Great Decision Association Group directory online discussion group finder to find a discussion group in your area. Learn about the group’s meeting schedule and how you can join. To find a Tucson group, go to the Discussion Groups tab on this site.


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What can I expect if I join a group?
Groups meet regularly, on a schedule that is published on the Group Directory page. You should plan to read the briefing material for the planned discussion. Guidelines for participation will vary from one moderator to another. Download the Great Decisions Program Guide to get started and ask the moderator this question when joining.


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How can I start my own Great Decisions discussion group?
The Foreign Policy Association has created a Program Guide with useful suggestions for starting, promoting and leading a Great Decisions discussion group. Download the Program Guide and learn more information about starting a group here.


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How can I get a briefing book?
Send an email to info@tgda.org with the subject line Briefing Book for details on ordering a book.


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When does the annual Great Decisions briefing book become available?
Great Decisions is published once a year in January. Online updates are published seasonally and are available as a downloadable PDF. For a copy of the seasonal updates, please email us at info@tgda.org.

If you are planning to start a discussion group, we recommend that you begin in late January or early February. This will allow you to receive the briefing books on time and provide your participants with adequate time to read the first article before you begin your first session.


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What are the prices of Great Decisions materials and what discounts are available?
The Great Decisions Briefing Book costs $20.00 (plus S&H).
The Great Decisions Television Series on DVD costs $40.00 (plus S&H).


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Who chooses the topics found in the Great Decisions briefing book?
FPA convenes an Editorial Advisory Committee, which meets each spring to discuss potential topics for the Great Decisions briefing book.

The Committee consists of:

Editorial Advisory Committee Chairman
David B.H. Denoon, Professor of Politics and Economics, New York University

Barbara Crossette, Columnist, UN Wire. Southeast Asia and South Asia specialist

Michael Doyle, Harold Brown Professor of International Affairs, Law and Political Science, Columbia University

Christine R. Lucas, Development Coordinator for Leadership Florida, Tallahassee

Ponchitta A. Pierce, Television Host and Producer, FPA Director

Lawrence G. Potter, Deputy Director of Gulf/2000 Project, Adjunct Associate Professor of International Affairs, Columbia University

Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor of Political Science and Director, Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, The CUNY Graduate Center

Karen M. Rohan, FPA Editor in Chief, ex officio


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What is the deadline for submitting national opinion ballots?

Opinion ballots for each topic can be found in the Great Decisions briefing book and online here. The opinion ballots should be filled out by participants after they have read and discussed the topics presented in Great Decisions.

The ballots are sent to FPA by Discussion Group Leaders, where they are tabulated, analyzed and published in the National Opinion Ballot report.

The National Opinion Ballot Report is presented 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.
Opinion ballots must be submitted by July 1st in order to be tabulated for the National Opinion Ballot Report.

 


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Where will the Great Decisions Television Series be on the air?

The Great Decisions Television Series airs on PBS stations across the United States and is also available in HD. For airing dates and location, visit the Television Series web page.


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How is the Great Decisions Television Series DVD used in discussion groups?
There are three ways that the Great Decisions Television Series on DVD can be used in discussion groups:

1. As a primer for the topic discussion
Discussion group leaders, as well as participants, can watch the DVD on their own prior to the session in order to gain a deeper understanding of the issue on the table.

2. Use it to kick start the weekly discussion
Viewing the DVD for a few minutes before discussion is a great way to get people focuses on the subject matter ahead. Each episode features two guests with different opinions. Ask the group which made a stronger argument.

3. Screen the entire episode for your discussion group
Invite members who are interested to attend the pre-discussion screening. A great chance for those who may not have had time to read the article to get up to speed, pronto!


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What is asked of me as a Great Decisions Group Participant?

  •  Come prepared.

Read the topic for the session and think about the discussion questions at the end. Please bring your book.

  •  Take part.

Respond to the moderator’s questions. Raise your hand to be recognized. Ask for clarification if necessary and add your own point of view if different from those already shared.

  •  Listen.

Give others a chance to speak. Listen actively so as to understand the point being made. Provide feedback, follow up others’ comments and stay on topic. But please DO NOT disrespect others’ views.

  •  Give and take.

Expect group members to disagree, Solicit opinions from those who haven’t spoken.

  •  Cite your sources.

Support your opinion with facts using the discussion material that all have shared. If you find supportive supplementary material, bring copies so all may have access to your source.

  •  Benefits.

Those who can see both sides of the discussion and recognize there are no black and white answers gain the most from Great Decisions.

Be clear. Be concise. Be relevant. Be open-minded.


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How do I lead a Great Decision discussion?

  • Plan to be in the room 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start to meet people and prepare the room for the meeting.
  • Make a short presentation or summary of the topic prior to opening the discussion. You may want to link some of the key comments from the video to the briefing topic. Your introduction should present salient issues and facts surrounding the decision rather than a point of view. Keep your comments to 15 minutes, but not longer than 20 minutes. Keep track of your time.
  • Lead the discussion with some open ended questions on specific material in the text or lead with a provocative statement. You want the group to run with this discussion rather than depend on you to lecture. If the group seems a little non responsive, consider directing a question to a particular individual to get things going.
  • Facilitate the dialogue, chair the discussion and encourage broad participation. Call on individuals when many are trying to speak at once. Ask the members to raise her/his hand to be recognized prior to speaking.
  • Keep the discussion focused. It is likely you may want to move to a new issue regarding the decision. Prior to doing so, make sure that comments have been fully heard on the issue at hand. Then ask a new question or make a new lead statement. Except for these interventions, let the group drive the dialogue.
  • Close the meeting and summarize the discussion. Be cautious to summarize the members’ opinions rather than restate your own. Do not feel that you must find a consensus. If one doesn’t exist, let it go.
  • Enjoy your group leader role. We are all here to learn and gain from the contributions of others to the discussion.

 

A Reminder
Great Decisions is an opportunity to learn and dialogue with others about global issues and foreign policy decisions. It is an active participation forum rather than a lecture. As a leader, your role is to energize dialogue rather than lecture.

The Great Decisions program is non-partisan and non-political. We ask that you freely share your personal understanding of a topic, along with supportive facts. However, please refrain from promulgating the aims of political organizations.
Information on any topic should present facts, not opinion. Letting elected officials know your view is a personal matter. In GD, we do that through the ballots at the end of each chapter.

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