From The President

T U C S O N     G R E A T    D E C I S I O N S
PO Box 69726
Oro Valley, AZ 85737

On this warm Tucson afternoon, with temperatures in the 90’s, I am thinking about the challenges that are facing the world, and us in the United States, as we live through the unrest in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Ukraine.  I can’t avoid feeling frustrated that these global issues represent serious challenges here at home in Arizona and the United States.  What is heartening is that every day I wake up to these global and domestic issues.  I recognize the vitality of the Great Decisions program.  This will be my 16th year of participation and I have learned so much about how our foreign policy efforts are affected by events elsewhere in the world.  I have learned to recognize how the diversity of viewpoints on global issues impacts how our government formulates its foreign policy.

This past year, we had eight great topics, and we looked at them through our individual lenses of “liberal internationalism, Real Politic, Neo Conservative or America First.  Thinking about our views in these terms added a certain flair to our individual contributions.   I felt that the real value that highlighting these various perspectives on Foreign Policy has been that it showed the diversity of views in our country and our neighboring countries.

This year, we’ll be looking at

  • Mideast Realignment– Can the U.S. continue to defend its interests in the Middle East and globally with a lower level of military and political involvement, or should it recommit to a leading role in the region?
  • Climate Technology and Competition  Will an increased commitment to trade protectionism and nationalism, by various measures including trade restrictions prevent effective climate change actions? Or could a growing spirit of international accord develop to confront the “common enemy” of climate change?
  • Science Across Borders– What happens when material, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is controversial and important to a nation’s national security? Is there a middle ground between sharing information and denying access?
  • US China Trade Rivalry– Is it a wise strategy to seek to deny China access to U.S. technology and investment as a necessary corrective to decades of predatory Chinese economic policies?
  • NATO’s Future– As NATO grows with more European countries joining in response to the threat of Putin’s Russia, what will be the effect on the countries’ relationships with Russia.  Will it lead to more stability or greater instability in the region?
  • Understanding Indonesia– Despite its large size, Indonesia remains virtually invisible to most Americans. It is as one of the world’s largest democracies, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, and is an economic driver of ASEAN. What are current issues in U.S.-Indonesian relations?
  • High Seas Treaty – The recently negotiated High Seas Treaty, also known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty, will attempt to address degradation of ecosystems due to climate change and the increase in human activities, such as shipping, overfishing, pollution, and deep-sea mining. How will this treaty be received?
  • Pandemic Preparation – Covid 19 is seemingly behind us, and we have learned a lot about this illness, but how can we apply these lessons to future pandemics? Will countries cooperate, and will a consensus emerge on how to manage global health challenges?

In addition to these eight topics for individual discussion group engagement, we’ll be scheduling several Tucson wide events, like last year’s speaker Catherine Ripley on the war in Ukraine .  We hope that we’ll be able to reintroduce our in-person event for our January Kick Off.  Topics haven’t been firmed up yet, but we expect they’ll build on the group discussions.    So, again in 2024, we’ll take another step forward in understanding some of the pressing global issues.  Based on what has been happening in the world this fall, it’ll be interesting to see how current events shape our perspective on these topics.

This year our video support for discussions will once again be provided by a 30-minute “Master Class” on each topic.  This will enhance our understanding of the issue and provide ample fodder for having some productive discussions as we open the doors of 2024 to the US and the world.  I sincerely hope you’ll join us in these discussions.  Our website has the information on our current groups at .    

If you missed out on 2023, join a group in 2024 by contacting one of the group moderators, or if you are at a loss about which one, email me at or consider starting a discussion group with your local social group or network.  Tucson Great Decisions will support you in your formation and your Zoom accommodation efforts. 

As always, we need your help in preparing for the season. Your discussion group moderator will be asking you for your plans for the season, and we’ll need that so that we can know how many books to order. We order our briefing books in bulk to qualify for a volume discount that allows us to reduce the cost to you and pay our operating costs. While we can order additional books after our initial order, we are not able to return books that we have already bought. So, please respond to any request for information about your 2024 Great Decisions plans.  This year you will once again be able to order your book directly from TGDA by going to

And one final ask:  I speak for the Tucson Great Decisions Association Board of Directors as I ask you as a Great Decisions participant, moderator, or newbie if you will consider becoming a member of the Great Decisions Board.  The Tucson Great Decisions Association supports the largest single metro group of discussion groups in the U.S.  Today, we support over 20 groups, including Pima County Libraries, OLLI and groups at a number of Tucson residential and Assisted Living communities.  The work needed to support these groups is significant and we need additional Board Members to achieve our goals of service to you and the many groups.  If you’d like to know more about this kind of service, please do not hesitate to email me at  If you can find a way to contribute to our costs for serving the community, we are a 501 c(3) not for profit and you can donate by selecting the following link.  
Donate to TGDA « Tucson Great Decisions

Thanks, and I’m looking forward to seeing you in the coming season.

Dick Kelbaugh
President, Tucson Great Decisions Association