Great Decisions Foreign Policy Discussion Group


gdPreparations are now underway for the 2017 Great Decisions foreign affairs discussion forum. Using the excellent resource material from the Foreign Policy Association, including its DVD, our program will explore the leading eight subjects that confront the U.S. in 2017. No doubt the recent election will inject even more uncertainly into the U.S. foreign policy challenges as we go forward.

Here is a description of the eight topics we will study and then discuss:

  • European Union: How will the Brexit vote in the UK, the lingering financial recession, and huge migration challenges affect the EU and its relations with the U.S.
  • Trade, Jobs, and Politics: What is the real impact of trade upon the economy and future of our trading partners throughout the world? Will NAFTA survive the current political storm over trade, and what is in the long term best interests of the US?
  • China and the U.S. in the South China Sea: Tensions arising from Beijing’s expansion in the region have increased dramatically — how should the U.S. navigate through these problems?
  • Saudi Arabia in Transition: Struggling with the sharp decline in oil revenue, the new crown prince is leading bold changes in the kingdom, which is still mired in the rigid Wahhabism tradition. With criticism rising in congress, what are the desired goals of our bilateral relationship?
  • U.S. Policy and Petroleum: Long a cornerstone of our foreign policy with the Middle East, the change in energy supplies suggest profound realignment of priorities and interests, both domestically and abroad.
  • New Political Era in Latin America: From Ideology to Pragmatism: With the huge changes in Brazil, Venezuela, and now Cuba, the U.S. has new opportunities and challenges to forge new relationships with these countries and those that are seeing an emergence of centrist, pragmatic modes of governance.
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan: What will be the position of the new administration relating to the deteriorating political situation in Pakistan and the emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan? What should be our foreign policy objectives in terms of aiding stability or continuing to withdraw?
  • Nuclear Security: With the Iran Deal under attack, and North Korea, Russia, India, and Pakistan continuing to challenge nonproliferation efforts, what is the best way forward for the U.S. nuclear security policy?

If you are interested in foreign affairs and enjoy discussing subjects with members who are both informed and highly curious, consider joining our program at USSB! Our discussion groups begin on February 1, 2017 and will be held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings, February through May, in Parish Hall from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Participants will need the “briefing book” published by the Foreign Policy Association, which can be ordered from their website at For further information, feel free to contact John Warnock, the project coordinator, at

NEWS & Updates

The Great Decisions Foreign Policy Program begins on February 1 when the subject with be The Future of Europe: Coping with Crisis. USSB member Dick Jensen will bring special insights to the subject and participate as a facilitator in the small discussion groups. Drop by the table to pick up a brochure describing the Great Decisions program now in our second year at USSB. More than 50 members have signed up so far! We meet on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in Parish Hall, starting on February 1 and continuing for eight sessions through May 17. If you are curious about our program, drop by and discuss it with John and Dorothy Warnock between the services. In addition to the eight foreign policy discussions, we are also presenting a new Sunday lecture series with emphasis upon climate change. USSB member Bjorn Birnir, a Professor of Mathematics and Director of Center for Complex & Non Linear Science at UCSB, will discuss his work computing the rate of global climate change through the study of fish migration at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 19 in Parish Hall. This will be a great opportunity to hear about Bjorn’s scientific work and recent breakthrough in developing the mathematical models that permit this new ability to measure and predict of changes in temperature of the Arctic Ocean. Among Bjorn’s wide range of interests is singing in the Chancel Choir!

Sunday Afternoon Climate Change Lectures

The companion to our discussion group is our Sunday Afternoon Lecture Series which brings outstanding professors to speak and lead discussions on Climate Change once a month. Join us in Parish Hall from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, February 19: UCSB Professor Bjorn Birnir on new science in measuring climate change

Sunday, March 12: UCSB Professor Kyle Meng on strategies to combat climate change

Sunday, April 23: Karl Hutterer, Ph.D., on what we can do to combat climate change

Sunday, May  21: Ted Anagnoson, Professor of Political Science, on Trump’s policies

Ample Q&A time is included. For more information, contact John Warnock.

Check our Upcoming Events page for Great Decisions and other meetings taking place at USSB.

What's New

  • Aug 16 Wednesday
    Sermon Writing Workshop Announced!

    SermonCraft: A Sermon Writing Workshop Led by Rev. Julia Hamilton Wednesdays, August 16... Read All...

  • Jul 6 Thursday
    Women's Empowerment Fund

    Are you a woman in our congregation with a project benefiting other women?... Read All...

  • May 1 Monday
    2017-18 Board Nominations Announced


  • Feb 6 Monday
    Send Us a Picture! Of You!

    We’ve got two great things going on right now, and we need you... Read All...

  • Aug 4 Thursday
    Help the Shower Trailer!

    The Showers of Blessings shower trailer is serving more people than ever, and... Read All...

  • Jul 6 Wednesday
    Children's RE Needs Your Donations!

    One of the things I love most about being part of this loving... Read All...

  • Jun 14 Tuesday
    A Message from Rev. Julia in the Wake of Orlando

    Dear Friends and Members of USSB, It has been a hard weekend, processing... Read All...

Read All the Latest News


Support the vital work of our congregation by pledging your annual support or making a donation.

Donate Now