Join WAC for Future of Korea Program May 20

Three experts on Korea policy will offer perspectives and analysis of the critically important Korean Peninsula on May 20.

The program is presented by the World Affairs Councils of America and the Korean Economic Institute.

Their visit to St. Louis will include a stop at Boeing, including a lunch panel discussion.

Afterward, they will speak at an open forum at St. Louis University, beginning at 5:30 pm. To register for the free event, visit:

Future of Korea, St. Louis Speakers

Ms. Jihyun Lee,  First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea

Recently at North Korea’s Nuclear Negotiation’s Division, she was in charge of bilateral consultations with the U.S. and ASEAN countries on dealing with North Korean nuclear issue and mapping up with strategy for the upcoming denuclearization negotiations. At this job, she has built capability for risk management and negotiation skills while dealing with North Korea’s 5th and 6th nuclear tests and historic inter-Korean talks, which led to US-DPRK summit talks held in Singapore, June 2018.  She has been posted to Korean embassy to the US since Feb, 2019. She is in charge of public diplomacy, mainly focused on ROK government’s foreign policy including on North Korea, ROK-US alliance, and other key security issues.  From 2012-2014, she completed Master’s program in International Relations at Columbia University and Public Policy at Hertie School of Governance (dual degree), where she learned quantitative data analysis, presentation skills, and basic programming capabilities, and applied her knowledge and skills in the fields of geopolitical risk assessment, crisis management and peace-building process in post-conflict areas.

Timothy Johnson, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Tim Johnson is a Foreign Service Officer in the Department of State Office of Korean Affairs.  His prior assignments included Embassy Tokyo, Japan and Embassy Lilongwe, Malawi.  Prior to joining the State Department, Tim was a corporate attorney in private practice working in New York and Tokyo.  He has also served as a Law Clerk to Senior U.S. District Judge I. Leo Glasser of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  Prior to attending the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, VA, Tim developed and managed programs in support of democratic institutions in Asia for an international non-governmental organization.  Tim holds a B.A. from Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

Mark Tokola, Vice President, Korea Economic Institute of America
Mark Tokola is Vice President of the Korea Economic Institute of America in Washington, D.C. He retired as a U.S. Senior Foreign Service Officer with the rank of Minister-Counselor in September 2014 after a 38-year career. His last posting was as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London. Previously he had served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassies in Seoul, Republic of Korea; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and Reykjavik, Iceland. Among his other postings were two tours at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs at Embassy London, and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in the Hague. He also served as Director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) in Baghdad from 2007-2008.  Mr. Tokola received the State Department’s Superior Honor Award for his work on implementing the Dayton Peace Accords while serving as Political Counselor in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1997-1999. He holds a BA in International Relations from Pomona College in Claremont, California, and an LL.M. in European Community Law from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.







Great Decisions Lectures: Understanding China and Cybersecurity

Trade with China and Cybersecurity highlighted a pair of programs in WAC’s 2019 Great Decisions Lecture Series on Thursday, April 4. First, Dr. Nori Katagiri, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Saint Louis University, provided insight on U.S.-China relations today. The topic of “Decoding U.S.-China Trade” was contextualized by Dr. Katagiri through a brief explanation of the trade war, potential hot-spots in the South China Sea region, and the current stance of the United States towards the Chinese government. His detailed descriptions provided attendees with an understanding of the situation today, as well as how the relationship might change in the future.

Later in the afternoon, Kurt Aubuchon, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity at Maryville University, presented at Venture Café. Discussing the topic of “Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics,” Professor Aubuchon explained some of the biggest threats in cybersecurity today, whether that be Russia, China, or other non-state actors. Next, he provided an overview of U.S. capabilities to combat this emerging threat in the future. Overall, he conveyed the importance of protecting ourselves against foreign actors and understanding that cyber war may be the next battlefield.

Please join UMSL’s International Studies & Programs Department and the World Affairs Council for the next segment of the Great Decisions Lecture Series on April 11, 2019. In order to provide insight and perspective on the topic, “Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics”, Professor Aubuchon will be at the St. Louis Ethical Society.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series is free and open to the public. The series entails eight weekly sessions moderated by local experts on the most critical challenges to United States foreign policy. For the complete list of topics, please click here.

This event runs for eight consecutive Thursdays in March and April from 12 – 1:30 PM. Great Decisions will be held at the Ethical Society in Clayton at 9001 Clayton Rd – St. Louis, MO 63124.

Great Decisions: Best Nuclear Strategy is Dialogue

Brent Shapiro discusses nuclear strategy

Brent Shapiro outlined the challenges around nuclear arms and the choices confronting policy makers in the Great Decisions lecture series March 21.  Noting that everyone in the room had lived the majority of their lives under the threat of nuclear war, he observed that a combination of luck, communications and good judgment had kept “the genie in the bottle.”

For leaders of nuclear-armed countries, the lessons of Libya and Iraq stand clear, he said.  Once their country gave up nuclear weapons, their grip on power dissipated.  The only country to give up their nukes peacefully, Shapiro noted, was South Africa as a prelude to the end of Apartheid.

When considering nuclear strategy, Shapiro said, the key is to put one in the shoes of a nuclear-owning leader and ask what they fear most – a neighbor, their own population, or a superpower.  By addressing those fears, disarmament may be possible.

As to Russia’s threatened development of hypersonic nuclear weapons, Shapiro expressed skepticism of their reliability.  “It does’t matter how many bullets you have,” he said, “it’s whether you have a way to deliver them.”

Please join UMSL’s International Studies & Programs Department and the World Affairs Council for the fourth segment of the Great Decisions Lecture Series on March 28, 2019. In order to provide insight and perspective on the topic: State of the State Department. Longtime Foreign Service Officer Regina Dennis-Nana  will be moderating the session.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series is free and open to the public. The series entails eight weekly sessions moderated by local experts on the most critical challenges to United States foreign policy. For the complete list of topics, please click here.

This event runs for eight consecutive Thursdays in March and April from 12 – 1:30 PM. Great Decisions will be held at the Ethical Society in Clayton at 9001 Clayton Rd – St. Louis, MO 63124.

Just added! Join us at Venture Cafe on April 4 for a special presentation of “Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics” presented by Kurt Aubuchon of Maryville University.

CHINA Town Hall covers U.S./China Relations, State of Public Health

From tensions in the South China Sea, to international copyright law to tariffs, relations between the U.S. and China, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice presented her assessment of the past and present state of relations between the two countries.

As part of a national live teleconference, about 60 people attended CHINA Town Hall at the Webster University Downtown St. Louis campus Oct. 9.  The event was presented by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the Confucius Institute of Webster University, the World Affairs Council of St. Louis and Webster University.  A second event was hosted locally at UM-St. Louis.

Dr. Rice, who lived for a year in China as a student, said the goal of leaders must be to ensure ongoing dialogue.  She noted the ability to talk through incidents and areas of mutual interest is very important.  “It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a strong and stable China,” she noted.   Discussing current trade disputes, she asserted the current state is not a trade “war” but a set of economic barriers that can hurt both sides.  She also said China’s expressed desire to overtake the U.S. in technologies such as AI and quantum computing was not a constructive attitude.

Speaking as a college professor, she said restrictions on travel by students of the two countries was a mistake.  She believes that attracting the best and brightest students around the world and allowing them to apply their talents freely is the best way to spur innovation and growth.

At the Webster presentation, Dr. Joan Kaufman of the international master’s program in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in China, discussed the current state of public health in  the country, including air quality, smoking prevalence and the impacts of the now-rescinded one-child policy.

Kazakh Leaders Examine Prison Reform and Alternatives to Incarceration During St. Louis Visit

Visitors meet with staff at the St. Louis County Prosecutors office.
Kazakh visitors tour the St. Louis County Justice Center
Criminal justice experts from Kazakhstan visited the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific, MO.

Open World Leadership Center, a legislative branch agency, coordinated the visit of a  delegation of Kazakh Criminal Justice Professionals to St. Louis, MO from September 14-22, 2018. While in St. Louis, Open World delegates were hosted by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis.

The delegation of five included Mr. Aleksandr Terenya (Head of Probation Service, Committee of the Criminal-Executive System of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), Mr. Beibit Nurzhan (Judge, Astana City – District Court #2), Mr. Berik Bakulin (Deputy Head of Probation Service Management – Committee of the Criminal-Executive System of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), Mr. Ramazan Khassenov (Judge, North Kazakhstan Regional Court), and Mr. Shynggys Alekeshev (Assistant to the Prosecutor General, Prosecutor General’s Office). The group was accompanied by Ms. Zhanna Toktarova a bicultural facilitator, and Mrs. Irina Bronstein LaRose, a bilingual translator.

Prior to their arrival in St. Louis, delegates completed an orientation in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill. Delegates had policy meetings with several Members of Congress including staff for Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri.

In St. Louis, delegates collaborated on best practices for Prison Reform and Alternatives to Incarceration. Delegates met staff of Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, and local leaders in the St. Louis, Metro Area. Additional activities include Prison Performing Arts, Lindenwood University, St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office, and St. Louis County Court. The delegation stayed in the homes of local residents, serving as hospitality hosts.

More than 27,000 current and future leaders from post-Soviet era countries have participated in an Open World exchange program. Open World offers one of the most effective U.S. exchange programs to promote mutually beneficial options for depolarized engagement between future national leaders.

CHINA Town Hall to feature Dr. Condoleezza Rice video conference

Join us Oct. 9 for a national teleconference with Dr. Condoleezza Rice as well as an internationally recognized expert on China’s public health and demographic challenges.  The free event is hosted by the National Committee on U.S. China Relations, Webster University,  University of Missouri Department of International Studies and Programs, the Confucius Institute and the World Affairs Council of St. Louis.  Reception immediately prior to the teleconference, followed by Q&A and a local lecturer. 

Former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor

Tuesday, October 9, from 4:30 to 7:00 pm
Webcast begins at 5:00 pm with Q&A after

Where: Two Locations
Webster University, Downtown STL-Arcade Bldg.
812 Olive Street, First Floor,  St. Louis MO 63101-1504

University of Missouri -St. Louis 
Student Government Association Chamber
Millennium Student Center
Parking Permit required, call

Dr. Glassman is the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and Director of the Office of International Studies and Programs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is a specialist in Chinese politics and U.S. relations with East Asia. He will deliver a short presentation about China’s changing role in the global system following Dr. Rice’s webcast.

Joan Kaufman is the Director for Academics at Schwarzman Scholars, a newly launched elite international master’s program in global affairs at Tsinghua University in China inspired by the Rhodes Scholars program at Oxford University in the U.K.   An expert on both China and global health policy, she was the Director of Columbia University’s Global Center for East Asia (Beijing) from 2012-2016 and Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Register to attend this FREE event at Webster University in Downtown St. Louis here!

To register to attend at UMSL and get a parking pass, click here or call 314-516-7299.

Cyber Security and You: Hear the Experts May 23

Learn about protecting yourself and your organization from cyber threats.

Hear from Rob Rudloff, a Cyber Security services team leader from RubinBrown and Matt Flinner, Better Business Bureau Education and Outreach Coordinator.

The key points of the presentation will cover the steps for concrete prevention and remedies of today’s greatest cyber threats, the latest information on emerging threats and tactics used by cyber criminals, and effective strategies for minimizing your risk of identity theft online.

There will be appetizers and a cash bar!

Cost is $20 a person, purchasing a whole table with 8 spots is $120.

Register here:

Pay by mail to:
Robert Foster, Executive Director
World Affairs Council
812 Olive Street, Suite 110, St. Louis MO 63101
or pay at the door.

Great Decisions: Global Health Progress and Challenges

The final event of this 8 part series sponsored by UM-St. Louis is on Wednesday, April 25th at the Ethical Society of St. Louis.  The topic is: Global Health: Progress and Challenges

The schedule for this event is:

12:00 Noon to 12:15 PM: Introduction of moderator and showing of portions of the FPA Video for the topic being discussed.
12:15 PM to 12:45 PM: Remarks by the moderator
12:45 PM to 1:15 PM: Q&A followed by a brief summation

Light refreshments, consisting of coffee and cookies, will be available to all participants in the meeting room at no charge.

Parking is free and convenient, located in the rear of the building on the north side. The parking lot is accessible from Clayton Road.


SLU Professor reports on Russian Elections

Dr. Ellen Carnaghan

“How did it look to have an elections where everyone knew what the outcome would be?”  That’s the question Dr. Ellen Carnaghan of Saint Louis University wanted to answer by visiting Russia during the March 18 presidential elections.

She shared details of her trip as part of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis’ Great Decisions series April 5.  One example of the strangeness:  The presidential debates, which often devolved into shouting matches between the challengers to President Vladimir Putin, reflecting badly on all involved.  Putin, meantime, stayed above the fray, “looking presidential and doing presidential things” in state-controlled media coverage.

Putin as expected won handily, but his victory might not be fully satisfying, Carnaghan said.  “Autocrats seem to be secure in their regimes to outside observers but they don’t FEEL secure,” she said.

“Regimes near him have fallen,” she said, noting the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and Euromaidan unrest in 2013-14.  She said Putin’s regime is vulnerable on issues such as corruption, a potential economic downturn or unseen popular sentiment.

Operating in Putin’s favor: The GDP of Russia has grown during Putin’s regime and with it, the living standard of most Russians.

Also operating in his favor: Control of the press allows Russia to shape opinions of the unrest in Ukraine and assertions of Russian interference in U.S. elections.

On that topic, she said the U.S. response has been rather mild: sanctions and the expulsion of diplomats.

In general, “the checks and balances that we political scientists know are important don’t exist in Russia,” she said. “There’s no free press and no independent judiciary.” Both factors were crucial to controlling the March election and assuring Putin a third six-year term.

U.S. and China relationship takes center stage at WAC-STL forum

Dr. Joel Glassman calls on an audience member during his presentation at Great Decisions March 22.

On a day when fears of a trade war with China sent the Dow Jones Industrial Index plummeting, UM-St. Louis Associate Provost Dr. Joel Glassman described the complex relations between the U.S. and China as part of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis’ Great Decisions series March 22.

Headlined “China and America: the New Geopolitical Equation”, the presentation was focused on flashpoints such as the status of Taiwan and domination of the South China Sea, which Dr. Glassman observed could both be “resolved” if China chose to do so.  On those issues, and with North Korea, he praised the U.S. and China for “agreeing not to fight against each other.”  While the issues remain unresolved, tensions are not escalating and that’s a net positive in Dr. Glassman’s view.

Similarly, North Korea has become less of a flashpoint in recent weeks after the U.S. stopped insisting that China “resolve” the North Korean regime’s quest for nuclear weapons. “The U.S. in the last few weeks has decided China will not resolve the problem for us,” Dr. Glassman observed.

 In regard to the idea of imposing tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S., Dr. Glassman stated “tariffs only impoverish all parties.” He further explored the potential impact on the local economy, focusing on the negative impact that proposed tariffs would have on Missouri farmers.

As a university professor, he also noted a trade war with China could have an enormous impact on higher education in the U.S. if visas are restricted, as one-third of international students at U.S. institutions are from China. Overall, the economic impact of these students is $40 billion he said.