Global Issues Discussion Groups Launched in Nashville
NASHVILLE – The poll results are all over the map. Should the U.S. Congress endorse the deal worked out among the so-called P5+1 group of nations and Iran to forestall a nuclear weapons program in exchange for relief of tough economic sanctions? But how much do the citizens being polled – and those registering opinions with their representatives – understand about the terms of the landmark agreement signed in Vienna this month? Much of the nuclear deal debate has been couched in sharp political rhetoric with an understanding of the details and implications falling victim to partisan wrangling.
It was with the hot topic of the Iran nuclear deal on the table that the Tennessee World Affairs Council launched the Global Dialogue discussion group program yesterday in Nashville. The goal is to bring together people for informal conversations about the important international issues of the day guided by a suggested reading list and key points of discussion. The inaugural Global Dialogue session hosted at a downtown coffee house brought together a small group of intellectually curious people from around the region to dissect the issue with the help of a facilitator from the Council and a drop in Skype visit from a Washington, DC based scholar.
The session was hosted by World Affairs Council President Patrick Ryan, whose background as a career Navy intelligence officer helped guide the discussion. “This topic is a special interest of mine having started my military career in the 1970s in the Persian Gulf regularly visiting Iran and closely watching over the decades as cooperation turned to confrontation after the Islamic Revolution,” he said adding, “I was pleased to provide context for the discussion group but the primary focus of the Global Dialogue program is to get everyone involved, to have everyone participate based on what they have read and experienced.”
Intellectual curiosity and a desire to know more about critical foreign affairs issues bring together people for Global Dialogue discussion groups.
The Global Dialogue group also enjoyed a conversation with Dr. Mark Katz who shared brief remarks via Skype on key points and fielded questions from the group. Katz is Professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University in Northern Virginia and a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Policy Council in Washington, D.C. Katz said, “It was a great group” and that he looked forward to “dialing in” to future discussion sessions. Ryan noted that Middle East scholar and veteran journalist Thomas Lippman would be the call-in guest at next week’s second iteration of the Iran issue Global Dialogue.
The Council organized the discussion groups as one component of its efforts to bring global affairs education programs and resources to the community to encourage and inspire better understanding of the world, especially critical issues confronting America like the Iran nuclear deal. “The Tennessee World Affairs Council is launching its operations from Nashville this month after a transition from its birthplace in Cookeville,” said Ryan. “There had never been a World Affairs Council – which is independent but part of a larger national network – until we started in the Upper Cumberland region and now we have developed a wider geographic area of coverage.” He said Monday evening’s participants came from Nashville, Mount Juliet and Williamson County. “It was a small but enthusiastic group representing a variety of backgrounds and professions from a wide swath of Middle Tennessee and I’m sure the program will add new venues as the program gets wider attention.”
The Global Dialogue program offers discussion meetings open to the public at no charge with a new topic each month. There are currently two venues for the sessions: the Frothy Monkey coffee house on 5th Avenue downtown and the Green Hills branch of the Nashville Public Library. The second iteration of the Iran nuclear deal topic is set for August 4th at the library. The TNWAC.org web site has details and links to register for the events. “Our topic for later in August will be on the threat of global terror in America in view of the attack in Chattanooga and other violence in the United States that may have been inspired by international terrorist groups,” Ryan said.
The Global Dialogue program is designed to be used as an off the shelf tool for groups that want to develop their own global affairs discussion groups. The TNWAC.org web site provides all of the suggested reading lists, discussion points, reference materials and polling questions required for independent groups – classrooms, civic organizations and others – to launch their own conversations of world affairs. Ryan said, “On our web site you will find everything you need to bring people together if you can’t get to one of our sessions and have meaningful conversations about these critical issues,” adding, “We even have poll questions for the end of sessions, that we compile and publish and send to political leaders and the media to reflect the opinions of informed citizens.”
The Tennessee World Affairs Council was founded in 2007 with the vision to improve citizens’ understanding of global issues especially key challenges to America in the world and to give youth the tools to operate in an increasingly complex, globalized society. The Council is an independent, nonprofit educational charity and is a member of the World Affairs Councils of America – the largest grassroots, nonpartisan network of people dedicated to educating, inspiring and engaging Americans in international affairs and the critical global issues of our time.
The Tennessee World Affairs Council is a nonprofit (501c3), nonpartisan educational charity based in Nashville that works to build understanding of global issues in our communities. Learn more about the Council and find how you can join, donate and volunteer at: www.TNWAC.org — Join / Donate / Volunteer