Tag Archives: Current Events

Ukraine’s “Revolution with Dignity” and U.S. Foreign Policy

Eugene/Springfield–Bend resident Bruce Donahue, who recently retired as Minister-Counselor from the U.S. Department of State, speaks about his last assignment as Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, from 2013–2015. In his presentation, Donahue reviews the often-misunderstood events of the winter of 2013–2014, which led then-Ukrainian President Yanukovych to flee the country and allowed a pro-Western government to come to power. He also discusses Russia’s actions during the “Revolution of Dignity,” including the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Finally, he outlines implications for U.S. foreign policy and lessons learned from the Ukrainian revolution. Donahue retired from the Foreign Service in 2016 after a 33-year career as a Foreign Service Officer. During most of his career, he focused on Russia and Eastern and Central Europe, serving in Poland and Moscow. Other overseas assignments included South Korea and Armenia. Donahue received his BA from Cornell University and his MA and PhD from the University of Oregon. He has been married to his wife, Karen, for 34 years; they have four adult children.

International Relations: Peace Before Prosperity: The Evolution of U.S.–Canada Relations

Eugene/Springfield—This International Relations lecture provides a look at United States-Canada relations through our treaties and international agreements. Did you know that the four international Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were demilitarized in 1817? Or, that it seems the first science ever funded by the U.S. State Department was in support of a reference on pollution to the International Joint Commission, pursuant to the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty? How these joint agreements have shaped our relationship and our societies lies at the heart of the talk.

Presenter Dr. Mary Durfee, a new OLLI member, is professor emerita of government from Michigan Technological University where she taught international law, U.S. foreign policy, and various environmental politics courses. She was U.S. Co-chair of the Lake Superior Bi-National Forum, a citizen advisory group to the governments of Canada and the U.S. She served on an EPA Science Advisory Board subcommittee on the diffusion of pollution prevention policy.

International Relations: Angela Merkel—A Leadership Profile

Eugene/Springfield–Presenter Helene-Carol Brown will cover Angela Dorothea Merkel from a biographical perspective, setting the stage for group discussion of Germany’s domestic and foreign policies including migrants and refugees, relations with the US, China, Russia, Turkey, and the European Union.

Research historian and teacher, Brown has published three historical novels. She is fascinated by the life of Merkel, one of the most important leaders in the world today.

Working for Human Rights—On the Ground and Online

Eugene/Springfield–Mariah Elizabeth Grant, human rights and migration consultant, will share her work experiences in Thailand, Greece, and the U.S. In 2014, she worked in Thailand with refugee communities and on programs to counter human trafficking. With the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women and the International Organization for Migration (UN Migration Agency), she researched how traffickers connected with people online, especially through social media.

In Greece during the spring of 2016, Grant worked in the camps for people seeking international protection. She saw how online communications can help humanitarian professionals respond to emergencies, how those fleeing conflicts can maintain contact with loved ones and chart paths to safety, and how all those involved—refugees, volunteers, and aid workers—were able to raise awareness and tell their stories.

She exposes how antimigrant forces use online platforms to disseminate hateful and harmful rhetoric, and suggests methods for the human rights system to be more responsive in the face of proliferating fake news that dictates negative global sentiments and policies toward migrants.

Grant graduated magna cum laude in 2010 with a BA in international studies from the UO, and went on to receive her MA in human rights and democratization from the University of Sydney in 2013.

International Relations: Reporting Public Affairs in Age of “Fake News”

Eugene/Springfield–Dean Rea, a retired newspaper journalist and university professor, will explore the accusation that journalists are “among the most dishonest people in the world” and are fabricators of false news. He also will discuss the “watchdog” role of the press in keeping an eye on the conduct of all levels of government and will review how the traditional definition of public affairs news is being challenged in the international community.

Rea, who did his graduate study at the University of Missouri, worked as an editor, reporter, and photographer for a dozen weekly and daily newspapers in the Midwest and in Oregon, including The Hood River News, The Bulletin in Bend, and The Register- Guard in Eugene. He also taught journalism at the University of Montana, Biola University in Los Angeles County, and the University of Oregon for three decades, ending in 2008.

International Relations: Myanmar—From Reclusive Military State to the Last Economic Frontier in Asia

Eugene/Springfield–Howard Schuman takes a look at the newly emerging country of Myanmar (Burma) and explains why it has two names, what’s contributing to the changes in its political and economic landscape, the role of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, and more.

Schuman made seven trips to Myanmar from 2014–16 while working as a consultant to its Central Bank.

International Relations: Africa’s Economic Progress

Eugene/Springfield–U.S. Ambassador David Gilmour provides an overview of Africa’s economic progress, its challenges and successes, with a special focus on Togo and the innovative U.S. assistance program there. Gilmour is a career Foreign Service officer and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. He will join us via Skype from his current post in Togo.

From Truman to Trump: The United Nations After 71 Years

“The United Nations represents the idea of universal morality, superior to the interests of individual nations.” —President Harry Truman, October 24, 1950.

“Eugene/Springfield–The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!” —President Donald Trump, Dec. 26, 2016.

History teacher Catherine Koller has worked in the U.S. and several countries overseas. In New York City she served as moderator of the Model UN program for 25 years. In the United Nations Charter, the founding member states declared the lofty goals of maintaining world peace, protecting human rights, establishing international law, and promoting social progress. Koller looks at the UN’s achievements along with its failures. In this session of International Relations, Koller reviews the historical precedents paving the way for the UN’s creation, and shows how it grew from the original 51 member states to the current 193. The critical question: After 71 years, to what extent has the United Nations fulfilled its founding mission?

Fifth Thursday Discussion Group


Fifth Thursday Discussion Group

Sharing our personal life experiences through open discussion.

Once a year, group members suggest topics they would like to discuss with each other.  These topics are voted on by the entire group.  Those with the most votes begin the new year and continue on until completed.  Examples of topics: How travel experiences changed your life?; Growing up in America, what changes have you experienced in how society views male/female roles?; What teacher/mentor had the greatest impact on your life and how?; Are you an extrovert or an introvert and how has that impacted your life both positively and negatively?; As a youth, what were your thoughts about growing old and how do they compare with what you’ve experienced so far?

News and Views Discussion Group

Eugene/Springfield–The moderator suggests about a dozen recent news stories for discussion, then group participants decide which of these to discuss. Some participants come ready to share their opinions and evaluations on one or more news stories, while others come expecting primarily to listen and to learn. Participants are diverse in their experiences and interests, and they read and watch a wide range of news sources. No additional preparation is necessary. Long speeches and “lectures” are discouraged. It’s OK to disagree with the views of the other participants—but not to be disagreeable.