Great Decisions FAQ

What is Great Decisions?

Great Decisions is America's largest discussion program on world affairs.  The program model involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watching the DVD and meeting in a Discussion Group to discuss the most critical global issues facing America today.

How can I start a discussion group?

Anyone can start a Great Decisions discussion group in their community.  The FPA has produced program guides that explain in detail how to start a group in four popular venues.

Great Decisions in the Library

Great Decisions in the Retirement Community

Great Decisions in the Classroom

Great Decisions in a Faith-Based Organization

How can I join an existing group?

Great Decisions discussion groups exist in communities all across America.  You can use the FPA's "Find a Group Near You" to enter your zip code and find a group near you.

 

What are the materials I need and when are they available?

The Great Decisions discussion program is supported by a number of materials and resources produced by the Foreign Policy Association annually.  The following are available in January every year, with pre-order discounts offered as early as October for the upcoming year. 

Core materials include:

Great Decisions Briefing Book

Great Decisions television series on DVD

Supplemental resources include:

Great Decisions Online

Great Decisions Newsletter

Great Decisions Social Media

Which topics are covered in Great Decisions?

Each year, eight topics are chosen by a panel of experts

The 2016 Great Decisions topics are:

  • Middle East Alliances
  • The Rise of ISIS
  • The Future of Kurdistan
  • Migration
  • The Koreas
  • The United Nations
  • Climate Change
  • Cuba and the U.S.

Learn more about 2016 Great Decisions topics
 

Does Great Decisions have an impact on U.S. foreign policy?

Yes.  Each year, Great Decisoins discussion program participants are polled about their views on the eight topics discussed.  The results are compiled in the National Opinion Ballot Report and distributed 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.

What is the history of Great Decisions?

The first "Great Decisions" group was launched in Portland, Oregon in 1954 by FPA's Vice President Roger Mastrude.  Based on the so-called "Avon" model of face-to-face, active and informal conversation, participants would read a fact sheet on each of the eight topics before meetings, where they aired their respective views and opinions.  FPA would tally up opinion ballots and report the results to the Department of State.  The program gained media attention, was picked up by local schools, and soon gained national attention. 

 

Where can I watch the television series?

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.

The 2013 season is also available for stream on Netflix and Hulu.

When is the deadline for submitting National Opinion Ballots?

Opinion ballots for each topic can be found in the Great Decisions online here. A printable ballot supplement is available 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, 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.

What is the Frank R. Cella Memorial Award?

The Frank R. Cella Memorial Award acknowledges the achievement of individual Great Decisions discussion groups. The Award is not meant for ranking discussion groups, instead, it allows FPA to acknowledge five individual groups and share their contributions and example with the rest of the Great Decisions network.

The Award is named for the late Frank R. Cella, who for 13 years worked at the Foreign Policy Association to promote the Great Decisions Discussion Program and support existing group leaders. Frank also led several discussion groups each year (sometimes as many as five at one time) at Institutes for Learning in Retirement, community centers, libraries and other locations. He brilliantly shared his first-hand experiences with the FPA staff, Great Decisions facilitators and organizers across the country, improving their experience with Great Decisions and helping to fulfill the mission of the Great Decisions Discussion program.

All Great Decisions groups are eligible for nomination, including groups serving a particular locality, community, or professional association; groups based in a workplace, a school, a library, or a retirement community; recently established or long-established groups—that is, any group participating in the Great Decisions network.

Group members may nominate their own group, or an individual outside the group may submit the nomination.  Please send nominations by December 31, 2013 to programs@fpa.org