Foreign Policy Association
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|Non-profit educational/cultural organization|
(as League of Free Nations Association)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Headquarters||New York City, New York, U.S.|
The Foreign Policy Association (formerly known as the League of Free Nations Association) is a non-profit organization founded in 1918 dedicated to inspiring the American public to learn more about the world. The Foreign Policy Association aims to spread global awareness and understanding of foreign policy issues. Its President is Noel Lateef.
It was founded in 1918 as the "League of Free Nations Association". Under the chairmanship of journalist Paul Underwood Kellogg, it was formed by 141 Americans to support US President Woodrow Wilson's efforts to achieve a just peace, with his famous speech and proposal of the Fourteen Points, which included the idea of a world organization, later to be called the League of Nations. It was also to increase support for United States membership in the world body that was then being discussed and laid out in the Versailles Treaty and the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, with the "Big Four" representatives dominating the many representatives of the nations formerly at war: President Woodrow Wilson of the US, Prime Minister David Lloyd-George of the United Kingdom, Premier Georges Clemenceau of the France and Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy following the Armistice ending combat in World War I. Interestingly, it also included future influential Americans from both sides of the political spectrum, John Foster Dulles and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Following the failure of the United States Senate to ratify the Treaty and membership in the League during various debate sessions with votes taken in 1919 and early 1920, and also later through the results of the Presidential Election of 1920, it was later reconstituted in 1923 as the Foreign Policy Association with a commitment to the careful study of all sides of international questions affecting the US and to further spread that education and knowledge throughout an informed citizenry.
In the 1920s, it initiated Saturday luncheon discussions on foreign policy in New York City. The luncheon discussions grew popular and in 1938, 19 women formed its "Off-the-Record" lecture series to learn more about international affairs.
In the 1940s, headed by Vera Micheles Dean, the FPA pioneered international affairs radio discussions by broadcasting New York City meetings and weekly talks on the program "The World Today" over the National Broadcasting Company's (NBC) radio network. Later, as the discussions among citizens spread, the FPA branches across America became the forerunners of the various independent membership councils with World Affairs Councils of America and foreign affairs or foreign policy councils founded in major large cities or regions of states in the 1950s and 60's, and some as late as the 1980s. These have become influential organizations of educated and curious concerned citizens in their own cities or regions, guided and led by academics or businesses with many international connections and have often had their meetings, lectures, seminars, and symposiums covered by the local media reaching a greater number of the public in those cities.
Meanwhile, the FPA's publications, "Foreign Policy Reports" (1925–1951), "Foreign Policy Bulletin" (1920–1961) and "Headline Series" (1935–present) became known and respected at the time for their clear and impartial analysis of foreign policy issues.
“In a democracy the Government functions with the consent of the whole people. The latter must be guided by the facts. The Foreign Policy Association is performing a high duty in facilitating the lucid presentation of the facts of world problems and their impact upon the United States.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943
The heart of the FPAs outreach effort, the Great Decisions program, was launched in 1954. The program has become the largest nonpartisan public education program on international affairs in the world. The FPA continued to undertake new educational challenges to improve the teaching of world affairs in the nation's schools in the 1960s when the forerunner of the FPA's "Citizen's Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy" was published.
“The complexity and multiplicity of the foreign policy questions facing the U.S. today places a premium on intelligent understanding of the issues by the widest possible cross-section of citizens…I am particularly impressed with the approach which the Foreign Policy Association has taken.” - John F. Kennedy, 1960
In the 1970s, Great Decisions opinion ballots were tabulated nationally for the first time. Every year, the results of the ballot tabulations are presented to the White House, the Departments of State and Defense, Congress, and the nation's media. Today, the preparation of innovative study materials and teachers' guides, as well as workshops for teachers, are among FPA top priorities.
An updated version of the history of the Foreign Policy Association is presented in this video narrated by noted evening news program anchor Tom Brokaw from NBC Nightly News. It builds on the well-documented history of the Foreign Policy Association's service to the American Public and the US policymakers in various branches of government, including updates on currents FPA programs and meetings.
The Foreign Policy Association distinguishes itself from other nonprofit educational and civic organizations in the field of international affairs by engaging the public through a variety of different media: Internet and blogs, television and DVDs.
Launched in 2007 as part of the "Great Decision" Program, the "Foreign Policy Blogs" network is a network of global affairs commentary "blogs" comprising nearly 50 blogs on a wide variety of global issues ranging from US foreign policy to global feature films/movies. With the "Foreign Policy Blogs" network, the Foreign Policy Association brings to the public, discussion on global affairs to the internet.
The "Foreign Policy Blogs" network is a production of the Foreign Policy Association but is staffed by professional contributors from journalism, academia, business, non-profits and think tanks.
Great Decisions Television Series
The Foreign Policy Association also produces the Great Decision series on PBS. Great Decisions on PBS is produced by Executive Producer MacDara King. Great Decision full episodes are also available on Netflix, Hulu and iTunes.
Narrated by David Strathairn, the series features eight half-hour documentaries providing background information and thought-provoking analyses and debate on issues of concern to US foreign policy-makers. The show was narrated by the legendary Walter Cronkite, formerly of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Former guests include Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and Madeleine Albright.
The Great Decisions program is the flagship educational program at the core of its outreach. The aim is to increase the awareness of international issues in the American public. Launched in 1954, it is America's longest-standing civic global affairs education program and has more than half a million participants in the US.
The Foreign Policy Association organizes education programs such as the Great Decisions discussion groups and workshops across the US and promotes the use of the Great Decisions opinion ballots. FPA's national network of volunteer coordinators help implementing the Great Decisions program by setting up discussion groups, seminars and public forums in which participants can meet, discuss the issues, and arrive at an informed opinion on each topic.
To facilitate the programming, the FPA produces the weekly e-news letters, "Great Decisions Online" and "Great Decisions in the Classroom", written for Great Decisions participants and educators. The organization makes a map of all the various discussion groups across the US available, and encourages individuals to start groups of their own.
Working to increase Great Decisions participation among high school students, FPA conducts outreach to hundreds of high school teachers from around the United States at meetings of the National Council for the Social Studies. Through Great Decisions workshop presentations and exhibitor booths, educators can learn about FPA's programming and receive samples of the Great Decisions educational materials.
In addition to the general outreach, the Foreign Policy Association organizes "Great Decisions Teacher Training Institutes". Here, secondary school teachers learn about the Great Decisions programming materials, and resources to explore ways to integrate Great Decisions in the classroom curricula.
Since the launch of the luncheon series in the 1920s, the Foreign Policy Association has invited experts to discuss global affairs issues with the public. Aside from the recurrent annual events such as the Annual FPA Dinner, the "World Leadership Forum", and the "International Business Forum", it also organizes events such as "Town Hall" meetings, lectures, luncheon discussions and open forums with world leaders and experts in the New York City metropolitan area.
The "Off-the-Record Lecture Series" (OTR) is an independent lecture series affiliated with the Foreign Policy Association. Off-the-Record hosts daytime lectures at the New York City Bar Building and evening events at private clubs throughout the city, providing a unique forum for members to hear and question renowned foreign policy practitioners and thinkers.
OTR was founded in 1938 by a group of 19 women who sought a greater voice in discussions at the Foreign Policy Association. Today, OTR has grown to over 600 members, women and men alike, and is run by a volunteer Board of Governors.
The wide spectrum of speakers encompasses former cabinet members Madeleine Albright, Brent Scowcroft and Richard Haass; Nobel economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz; journalists Thomas Friedman, Christiane Amanpour, and Fareed Zakaria; and a range of distinguished academicians and analysts including Francis Fukuyama, Vali Nasr, and Ian Bremmer.