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All Fearrington GREAT DECISIONS programs are free and open to all Fearrington and Galloway Ridge residents and their guests.

The most recent program was on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 1:30 pm in The Gathering Place. For details, see the Programs menu tab. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, live prgramming has been suspended until it is afer to assemble inside in large groups. The leaders decided not to use Zoom for programming because the program model works best when everyone is assembled in the same room.

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GREAT DECISIONS is the name shared by a national civic-education program and publications of the Foreign Policy Association (FPA). It is the nation's largest discussion program on world affairs. The mission of each formally affiliated program is to facilitate national awareness and critical analysis of the current events that relate to foreign affairs. Such affiliated programs are highly structured and involve a curriculum, study guides, and homework prior to, and often following, each program. Interestingly, the UNC Great Decisions Program is now the largest of more than two thousand such programs in the nation, and it represents a tremendous regional resource. In fact, we have been fortunate to be able to often draw upon their excellent speaker pool.

We have also been fortunate to have been able to draw upon much of the experience, wisdom, and talents of some of our own community residents whose backgrounds have sometimes been in ambassadorial posts, the Foreign Service, National Strategic Studies and implementation, the professoriate, and a wide range of other fields related to foreign and national policy matters.

While our program is much more modest and is not formally affiliated with the Foreign Policy Association, our mission is focused on many of the same goals as those advanced by the FPA. Our program is a speaker series that features quite active audience/speaker discussions, and does not require formal study prior to, or following, the program sessions. We have no assigned reading, no study guides to follow, and there is no homework. Yeah :-).

A Brief History of Fearrington's GREAT DECISIONS Program

Fearrington's Great Decisions program began in September 2005. Originally meeting at McIntyre's Book Store, it was moved to the Gathering Place in 2006. A variety of presenters have come from many sources: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Duke University; North Carolina State University; the Triangle Institute of Security Studies; the Governor's Club Speakers Bureau as well as diplomats who live in Fearrington and even the Dean of the Duke Chapel.

Topics have ranged from pandemics to middle eastern issues; war crimes; the European Union; immigration; the BRIC countries; Cuba; Africa; astronomy; the politics of foreign aid; the global financial crisis; countries of South America and the Arctic. We even learned how a pope is selected.

Due to the academic richness of the triangle area, we enjoy a variety of perspectives and expertise. Speakers present for approximately one hour followed by a question and answer session. In the last few years, more than 60 people attend on a regular basis.

Great Decisions is held from September through May at 1:30 p.m. A free-will offering twice a year covers the cost of using the Gathering Place venue.

Originally begun by Jean Hjelle, Great Decisions is presently headed by Fred Welfel and Jackie Walters. Anyone who would like a particular topic discussed or would like to recommend a specific speaker is encouraged to use our convenient, easy-to-use on-line form to provide your suggestions to these coordinators.

Come, learn, share, discuss, and enjoy. Together, we can all add value to many of the worlds (plural is intentional) within which we all live.