CGS-Minnesota Forums and Events

Learn more about Emerging Global Challenges

The "Third Thursday Global Issues Forum" is a monthly presentation and discussion that aims to promote understanding and foster dialogue about emerging global challenges. Over 120 Forums have been held in the Twin Cities since the first one was presented in January 2000.

Recent Forums and other CGS-MN sponsored events that were video-recorded are available below. Additional Further Reading and Web-Based Resources on each Forum topic will also be added to this page. 

Click Here to view past Third Thursday Forum topics (2000 - 2017)


THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 7:00 – 8:45 PM

Presenter: J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director, Fresh Energy

J. Drake Hamilton is the science policy director at Fresh Energy, Minnesota’s 25-year-old nonprofit focused on climate and energy policy. A geographer and climatologist by training, J. is an expert in climate policy, and will be participating in the November 2017 UN Conference of Parties meetings on climate action in Bonn. She’ll report back on what was achieved at COP23, next steps for nations and the world, and how you can act effectively. Minnesota has achieved high levels of carbon reduction at no additional cost, and--as a heartland state that is dependent on fossil fuels--has great potential to demonstrate effective climate policies at the scale of the climate problem. Fresh Energy’s work can be found online at

This program was sponsored by CGS-MN, and co-sponsored by Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers and United Nations Association, MN.

RECOMMENDED READING: a great overview! Global Warming 101


THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 7:00 – 8:45 PM

Presenter: Jay Kvale, Minnesota Peace Project

Bellicose threats by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have generated massive anxiety about a potential war on the Korean peninsula.  What are the roots of the current conflict?  How did we get into such a dangerous situation?  What are the military capabilities of each side?  Could military action lead to the use of nuclear weapons?  Can Congress block Trump's sole power to authorize a nuclear strike?  Is there a diplomatic way forward without resorting to military action?  What are the the roles of South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia?  Our speaker will also present information on the new UN Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, a potentially historic document adopted by 122 nations.

Jay Kvale is a former teacher and travel guide for the state of Minnesota who became a peace activist upon retirement 10 years ago.  Jay is a member of the Minnesota Peace Project, Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee, and WAMM.  He specializes in the history, deployment, and disarmament of nuclear weapons.

This program was sponsored by CGS-MN, and co-sponsored by Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, United Nations Association, MN, and the Minnesota Peace Project.

human rights advocacy at the united nations

Thursday, October 19, 6:45 8:45 pm

Presenters: Jennifer Prestholdt, Deputy Director, & Mark Petty, The Advocates for Human Rights

In March 2017, The Advocates for Human Rights led a delegation to conduct human rights advocacy before the United Nations. The speakers will discuss their experiences traveling to Geneva to advocate before the Human Rights Council, and will describe how they used UN human rights mechanisms to enforce international legal standards related to women’s rights, the death penalty, torture, racial discrimination, and the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the impact of their work on domestic foreign laws and practices.

This program was sponsored by CGS-MN, and co-sponsored by Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, United Nations Association, MN, and The Advocates for Human Rights.

Additional reading:

Human Rights Tools for a Changing World, chapter 9: "Advocacy at the UN"

The International Criminal Court: Advancing the Global Rule of Law


Thursday, Sept. 21, 6:45 – 8:45 pm

Presenters: Ellen J. Kennedy, Ph.D., Executive Director & Sarah L.S. Erickson, J.D., Benjamin B. Ferencz Fellow in Human Rights & Law, World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law

In 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) began operating in The Hague, Netherlands, with the mandate to prosecute genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression perpetrated by individuals anywhere. This is the world’s first permanent court with this mandate. The US had a prominent role in the creation of the ICC, but has not signed the Rome Statute, the document that provides for the creation of the ICC.

This program was sponsored by CGS-MN, and co-sponsored by Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, United Nations Association, MN, and World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

Quotes by Benjamin B. Ferencz:

"There can be no peace without justice, no justice without law, and no meaningful law without a Court to decide what is just and lawful under any given circumstance."

Nuremberg taught me that ... if we do not devote ourselves to developing effective world law, the same cruel mentality that made the Holocaust possible might one day destroy the entire human race."

Resources provided by World Without Genocide:

American NGO Coalition for the ICC
International Criminal Court- Cour Penale Internationale
Ben Ferencz’s website
International NGO Coalition for the ICC
Print and electronic resources – University of Chicago

CGS-MN Annual Dinner - Russia: The New Cold War

THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2017, 6:00 PM

Presenter: Todd Lefko

Russia and the United States have entered a new form of the Cold War. Autocratic leadership by President Putin and increasingly by President Trump have produced new issues, many of which have existed from the past century. What are the implications of Russian actions in Ukraine, Crimea, Western elections and the Middle East? Is Russia capable of democratic governance? Are Russian and American interests diametrically opposed, producing another period of potential nuclear conflict? The choices of Putin raise questions on the world role of the United States, as well as the long-term potential of Russian influence with a damaged economy and governmental systems threatened by historical forces. How we approach and resolve these issues will impact the coming years and world events.  

Todd Lefko is President of the International Business Development Council, an import-export firm, and writes for Rossiske Vesti, a Russian political newspaper and Rusya-Al Youm, the Russian Arabic Television channel for the Middle East. He has taught urban affairs, political science, international relations, political philosophy, political campaign management, leadership, organizational development and public administration and sociology at the university level, and has lectured at universities in Russia, China, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

PDF: "Russia: Questions for Discussion & Changes in US-Russia Relations Since the Cold War"

5th Annual World Law Day Symposium: Science, Law and the Quest for Freedom in the Age of Trump

Monday, May 1, 2017, 5:30 PM

Presenters: Shawn Otto, author of “The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It”

Shawn Otto ( is co-founder and producer of the US presidential science debates at He is the award-winning author of "The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters and What We Can Do About It," which has been called "a game changer, and probably the most important book you'll read this year." He is also an award-winning screenwriter and novelist,  best known for writing and co-producing the Academy Award-nominated movie "House of Sand and Fog," and the LA Times Book Prize finalist literary crime novel, "Sins of our Fathers." He has advised science debate efforts in many countries and speaks worldwide on the critical role of science,  evidence, and objectivity in free societies. 

World Law Day was an innovation of the Minnesota World Federalists in 1963, and was an annual program for over 30 years; it was re-initiated as an annual program in 2013.

The World is My Country

Apr 23, 27 & 29, 2017

The World Is My Country film is about World Citizen #1: Garry Davis, who spent 65 years of his life as a citizen of no nation, only Earth. For years he traveled around the globe on his World Passport while engaging in adventures so unique that his life made a front-page headline story in The New York Times and inspired stories in The Washington Post, The LA Times and other worldwide media. Hailed by Albert Einstein for “the sacrifices he has made for the well-being of humanity,” extolled by Buckminster Fuller as the “New World Man,” and egged on by Eleanor Roosevelt to start “a worldwide international government,” Garry Davis was a pioneering thinker, an author of 10 books, and founder of the World Service Authority - an organization in Washington, D.C. that issues World Passports to stateless refugees and to people who think globally, and above the nation-states that carve up our one globe. To find out more go to

Sponsored by CGS-MN

Brexit, the E.U., and the rise of European populism

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Presenter: Roger Prestwich

Roger Prestwich served as the international program director at Metropolitan State University’s College of Management for many years, and as the college’s interim dean in 2013-14. Before joining Metropolitan State, Prestwich served as director of the Minnesota Trade Office education program for 12 years and of the World Trade Conference Center for two years. Now retired, Roger continues consulting with organizations and businesses, and remains engaged internationally, serving on the Saint Paul-Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations, the Minnesota District Export Council, and the Midwest Global Trade Association.

Powerpoint Slides from Robert's talk are available here

Move Upstream: A Call to Solve Overpopulation

March 16, 2017

Presenter:  Dr. Karen I. Shragg 

Overpopulation needs to come back into our discourse, but in a new way. GONE must be any question about why we are going to wrestle with this issue again. We are going to do this because it is necessary. It is necessary but ONLY if we want to be successful in our progressive goals. If you want to address poverty, traffic, or water scarcity you must have the overpopulation discussion. It is humane, it is necessary and it is overdue. 

Karen is a lifelong environmentalist, naturalist, educator, author and overpopulation activist. She began her career as a naturalist in 1983 and as the director of the City of Richfield’s Wood Lake Nature Center in 1991.  She is passionate about the role nature centers can make in keeping communities thriving. Karen received her doctorate from the University of St. Thomas in 2002 where she studied critical pedagogy and its implications for the future of nature centers. She writes children’s books, the most well-known of which is the Nature’s Yucky series by Mountain Press. As a member of the advisory board of the non-profit “World Population Balance,” she has become deeply alarmed by the lack of discourse surrounding the overpopulation crisis. In 2015, her book Move Upstream, A Call to Solve Overpopulation. was published. She is currently working on a documentary short film called, “Move Upstream”

Further Reading:

World population projected to reach 98 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100

NAFTA, TPP and the uncertainty of US trade policy

February 16, 2017

Presenter:  Kaela Berg, Director, MN Fair Trade Coalition

Ms. Berg will explain the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in terms of its history and what it is really about; how all trade agreements are connected; what is still out there being negotiated; and what "trade" could end up looking like with a Donald Trump presidency.

UN Human Rights Treaties: Why Isn’t the U.S. Leading?

January 19, 2017

Presenters: Kristi Rudelius-Palmer and Amanda Lyons

United Nations human rights treaties are important tools for building world-wide understanding and cooperation. They can be used to pressure governments to uphold the rights of all - including indigenous peoples, immigrants, women, children, the LGBT communities, individuals discriminated on the basis of their racial or religious identities, and persons with disabilities. In this interactive session, our guest experts will explore:

  • What is the history of human rights treaty ratification by the U.S.?
  • How has this changed over time, and why?
  • Which of the treaties deemed most important for world-wide cooperation have yet to be ratified by the Senate? Who is opposing their ratification, and who is working for ratification?
  • What actions can we take to advance human rights by advocating for ratification and implementation of these treaties?

Additional Materials: Powerpoint

Walid Issa: Freeing the Dove

November 17, 2016

Presenter: Walid Issa

In his presentation, 27-year-old Mr. Walid Issa shares his story and discuss the projects he has created to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Raised in the Dehesha refugee camp in Bethlehem, Walid is the founder of the American Palestinian Hope Project and the co-founder of the Shades Program on Negotiation. He has received a Welter Global Citizen Award from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and a Student Leadership award from St. Cloud State University, where he received his degree in Economics. Don’t miss a chance to share ideas with this inspiring young peace entrepreneur!

Global Policy in an Election Year

October 29, 2016

Presenters: Tom Hanson

(Annual Meeting of United Nations Association-MN, in honor of United Nations Day. CGS-MN was a co-sponsor of this event.)

Tom Hanson’s U.S. Foreign Service postings included East Germany, France, Norway, the Soviet Union, Sweden, and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. He also participated in the opening of new U.S. embassies in Mongolia and Estonia. Currently, Tom serves as Diplomat in Residence at the University of Minnesota – Duluth and is a member of MIC’s Great Decisions advisory committee and frequent Great Decisions speaker. He is also a board member of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, U.S. Foundation.

Further Information: talk by Tom Hanson, January 2016, hosted by Minnesota International Center (in three parts)

Green Card Youth Voices

October 20, 2016

Presenters: Tea Rozman-Clark, Zaynab Abdi, Fosiya Hussien, Wendy St. Felix

Tea Rozman-Clark, a 2015 Archibald Bush Fellow and founder of Green Card Voices, brought three young immigrants who hold Green Cards: Zaynab Abdi from Yemen, Fosiya Hussien from Somalia and Wendy St. Felix from Haiti. The students are among those whose experiences are included in the recently published book, Green Card Youth Voices, all present or past students at Wellstone International High School in Minneapolis. Tea described the Green Card Voices program (both the general and youth programs), and each of the three youth gave a brief summary of their story.

Click here for further information about Green Card Voices

To purchase the Green Card Voices book click here.

Authored by 30 students from Wellstone High School, edited by Tea Rozman-Clark and Rachel Mueller. In September of 2015, Green Card Voices recorded 30 stories of immigrants from Wellstone International High School. These courageous youth coming from 13 countries shared their powerful stories of family, school, change, and dreams.

War, Media, Propaganda: Muslims As The Other - A Personal Narrative

october 15, 2015

Presenter: Mnar Muhawesh

Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neo-conservativism within the media, and journalism start-ups.

Mnar is a Palestinian American who lived in Palestine for three years when she was achild. Her experiences, which were in contradiction to what she read in the U.S. news, inspired her tobecome a journalist. She talks about her experiences and about MintPress News, “an independentwatchdog journalism organization that provides issue-based original reporting, in-depthinvestigations, and thoughtful analysis of the most pressing topics facing our nation. We focus ourcoverage on issues relating to the effects of special interest groups, big business and lobbying effortsand how they shape policies at home and abroad, including American foreign policy. Through thelens of social justice and human rights, we report on how these dynamics drive our foreign affairs andimpact the world, and examine the effects they have on our democracy and freedoms as defined bythe constitution.”

Further Information:

The Iran Nuclear Deal: Pros and Cons, A Round Table Discussion

August, 2015

On Monday, 24 August 2015, the United Nations Association of Minnesota held a round table on the merits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), sometimes referred to as the "Iran Nuclear Deal." Over 225 were in attendance, and this is the entire record of the discussion. CGS-MN was a co-sponsor of this event.)

-Eric Schwartz, Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
-Rep. Keith Ellison, U.S. Congress MN-DFL

-William Beeman, Iran scholar, Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota
-Tom Hanson, former foreign service officer, Diplomat in Residence, University of Minnesota, Duluth

-Oren Gross, the Irving Younger Professor of Law and the Director of the Institute for International Legal & Security Studies at the University of Minnesota Law School.
-Terrence Flower, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Physics, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Wikipedia article about the“Iran Nuclear Deal”  
New York Times 8/25/15 article: “Weighing the Odds in Fight Over IranNuclear Deal”   New York Times 7/14/15 “Deal Reached on Iran Nuclear Program: Limits onFuel Would Lessen With Time”

The International Problem of Domestic Violence: Monitoring and Promoting Improvement

June 2015

Presenter: Rosalyn Park, The Advocates for Human Rights

Prior to being appointed director of The Advocate's Women'sHuman Rights Program, Rosalyn Park worked as a staff attorney in theWomen’s Human Rights Program and on special projects. She hasassisted in conducting fact-finding missions in Bulgaria, Tajikistan, Croatia,  Mongolia, Sierra Leone, and Serbia. She has co-authored severalpublications and is a frequent guest lecturer in the community. In addition,  she teaches global gender violence at the University of Minnesota as anadjunct professor.

This is the Annual Dinner presentation for 2015 for the Citizens for Global Solutions-Minnesota. Rosalyn Park of the Advocates of Human Rights presents on the international problem of Domestic Violence and how her center addresses monitoring and promoting improvement.

(View accompanying Powerpoint presentation)

Further Information:

Overpopulation is Solvable

March 2015

Presenter: David Paxson

David Paxson is a national leader on the issue of sustainable population, participating ininternational meetings – including the United Nations Population Conference in Egypt – and he hasspoken to groups across the United States. He graduated from the University of Michigan and workedat the Center for Population Studies at the University of Minnesota. In 1991, David retired from thefinancial field and founded World Population Balance. Members include some who are pro-life andothers pro-choice, working together to find common ground.

Overpopulation is a driving cause of many problems in the world. Three of the greatestare: overc onsumption and depletion of vital resources, and resulting conflicts over these dwindlingresources; rising levels of dire poverty, suffering and early death; and increasing rates of killing offspecies / biodiversity loss. According to Paxson, “The great news is that overpopulation is solvable.” 

Further Information:

Ending Childhood Malnutrition

June 19, 2014

Presenter: Dr. Bharat Parekh

A native of India, Dr. Parekh earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rochester. Hetaught for fifteen years at ND State University and was a research scientist at the ND WaterResources Research Institute in Fargo. He has live in the Twin Cities since 1987. As a consultant forUS and Indian companies and NGOs, his work involved technology transfer and trade in theenvironmental and rural development sectors. His current passion is to fight the scourge ofmalnutrition in Mumbai and other parts of India. He has long been active in Citizens for GlobalSolutions, Minnesota; the St. Paul/Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations; and the UnitedNations Association of Minnesota, where he set up the Minnesota Millennium Initiative to championthe Millennium Development Goals. He serves on the Board of Toddler Food Partners. 

Three years ago, Toddler Food Partners, a Minnesota-based NGO, built a pilot projectfacility to make Ready-to- Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) in a health center in Dharavi, Mumbai,  arguably Asia’s largest slum. An adjacent hospital embarked on a controlled clinical trial to testRUTF’s efficacy in comparison with Standard Nutrition Therapy (SNT) with a sample of 200 children.  The eight-week trial showed that RUTF substantially out-performed SNT. The implications are far reaching. Dr. Parekh explains the wider global context.

Further Information: