Maintaining an Active Voice in World Affairs

​Promote global identity in the Upstate. Sustain international engagement in our region. Get involved in leading intellectual discussions on critical issues facing the world. At World Affairs Council Upstate, we are participants in shaping a global tomorrow. Join us in fostering a broad perspective of our ever increasing inter-dependent world by sponsoring, donating, or becoming a member of World Affairs Council Upstate.

Dedicated to fostering a deep understanding of global affairs and cultures, and supported by individuals and businesses, Upstate International engages globally-minded South Carolinians directly with each other and with elected officials, civic leaders, and professionals from around the world. Upstate International works with partner organizations to reach all generations and sectors and is always looking to enhance those partnerships and collaborations.


“The World Affairs Councils of America is the largest nonprofit  grassroots organization in the United States dedicated to educating and engaging Americans on global issues with nearly 100 councils across 40 states reaching more than half a million people a year.” Learn more at

World Affairs Council Upstate Events

Every year, the nation-wide network of World Affairs Councils collectively conducts more than 1200 programs in communities and cities across the nation. Each council sets its own calendar and programs. The WACA offers a number of programs every year, including our annual National Conference, national program series, Leadership Missions, and special programs. It also acts as a distribution center for five national flagship programs: Academic World Quest, It’s Your World!,
Great Decisions, Travel the World, and World in Transition.

Rather than set ticket prices, WACU is instituting a new “Pay What You Wish” policy. A donation of $5-10 or an annual membership is suggested.

Donate here. or   Become a Member here.  Your support is greatly appreciated.


Upcoming 2020 WACU events:

Why It Matters: The Belarus Protests
An America and the World Conversation
Free, Live and Online on Thursday, October 29 at 12:00 pm 


Belarus is in the midst of unprecedented protests and demonstrations after many years of President Lukashenko’s authoritarian rule. How did the situation become so volatile? Will Russia intervene to save Lukashenko? How have women become the sustaining force behind these protests?  On the eve of our own elections, what lessons can the U.S. learn from the protests in Belarus?

Brent F. Nelsen is professor of politics and international affairs at Furman University where he has taught since 1990. He received his BA from Wheaton College (IL) and his MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His teaching and scholarship focus on Europe and the European Union with an emphasis on religion and politics. His most recent book, co-authored with James L. Guth, is titled, Religion and the Struggle for European Union: Confessional Culture and the Limits of Integration. (Georgetown University Press).

David DeBatto retired from the U.S. Army in 2004 as a senior Counterintelligence (CI) Special Agent NCO, where, among other assignments, he did a tour in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-2004 as the team leader of a Tactical Human Intelligence Team (THT). During his Army career he became a subject matter expert on the military and intelligence services of the Soviet Union/Russia and the Gulf Arab states. Since retiring, David has consulted with several NGO’s on conducting legal and ethical interrogations and intelligence gathering operations. He has discussed those and other related National Security topics on every major TV and radio network in the U.S. as a guest expert. David co-authored a series of four novels for Warner Books (now the Hachette Group) under the series name: CI: Army Counterintelligence and has written articles for, Vanity Fair, The American Prospect, The Washington Spectator and The Washington Monthly. David’s newest work in progress,, features podcasts, 

blogs, and commentary on the most pressing national and international issues of the day as they relate to American National Security.  The memoir of his tour in Iraq, Mr. David, is due out in the spring of 2021 from Potomac Books.

Michal Matlak holds a PhD from the European University in Florence, works as policy advisor at the European Parliament, and is a regular contributor to the Polish magazine Liberal Culture. Former visiting fellow at the Princeton University, the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

Please join us live online
Thursday, October 29 from 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Presentations generally run from 12-1:00 with plenty of time afterwards to ask your specific questions of our panelists.
Rather than set ticket prices, WACU has instituted a “Pay What You Wish” policy.
A donation of $5-10 or an annual membership is suggested.  
Your support is greatly appreciated.

Free to Register; Registration required

Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email containing the link you will need to join the webinar.   

Many thanks to Colonel David E. Davenport, US Army (Retired)
our America & the World Conversations online series sponsor 

Questions? Please email [email protected]
Interested in sponsor opportunities? Email [email protected]


There are other Upcoming WACU Events in the planning stage: If you have an idea for an interesting international business topic or speaker please let us know.


You may have missed these, so here is a 2nd chance to
access the series on our Upstate International YouTube Channel:

If you could not attend, or you just want to view it again to refresh yourself on points that were discussed, you are in luck. We have posted PDF files of the slides, if any were used, in the presentation and a YouTube video recording of the presentations. Each one is property of Upstate International and the speakers. They cannot be used or redistributed for commercial purposes without the express and written consent of both Upstate International and the speakers. If you download or view these presentations you are agreeing to the property statement written above. If you are caught in violation of this agreement, action can be taken by owners.

Let’s Get Business Moving: A New Plan for Supply Chain Innovation, a panel discussion with industry experts including Suzanne Dickerson SC Council on Competitiveness, Julie Branham Director of Supply Chain Michelin North America,
Gerald McDermott Professor of International Business at the Darla Moore School of Business af the University of South Carolina and faculty director of the Folks Center for International Business, and Dr. Nick Vyas Executive Director and founder of Center for Global Syupply Chaine Management (CGSCM) and Academic Director at USC Marshall MS GSCM prgram.
(Originally aired on 10/7/20)

Brief summary: What matters most to the businesses and people who live in South Carolina? Do we focus on onshoring our supply chains or creating more efficiency through the use of technology? What does this all mean for small to medium enterprises in our area? The Upstate of South Carolina is home to a thriving business economy leading the way in the automotive, aerospace, and advanced materials industries. Using innovation, technology, and training to address today’s supply chain challenges and disruptions, our panelists will share effective strategies to increase supply chain performance. Join us to discuss solutions for Upstate SC as our area continues to move forward as leaders and innovators in these valuable industries.

Global Opportunity, Local Impact: The Life Sciences Industry Responds to COVID, a panel discussion with industry leaders including Sam Konduros, President/CEO of SCBIO, Nate Wilbourne is founder and CEO of Precision Genetics, Jennifer Noel Fletcher, SC Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Shane Grivich, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at ChartSpan Medical technologies
(Originally aired on 9/24/20)

Brief summary: With more than 650 firms and 43,000 professionals engaged in research, development and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical device, industrial, environmental and agricultural biotech and products, life sciences in South Carolina is booming.  The Palmetto State increasingly earns a prominent seat at the table of this $1.5 trillion industry.  Yet at its core, life sciences is personal – focused on improving health and quality of life for each of us as individuals. Hear from 3 leaders how their work and the industry is impacting your own health and future here at home … and how the growing cadre of life sciences leaders and entrepreneurs across the Palmetto State are making waves around the world.

The Dynamics of Today’s Supply Chain with Southeast Asia featuring Ambassador Robert Blake, Jr. and moderated by Professor William Lasser

(Originally aired on 8/18/20)
Brief summary: The dynamic of today’s supply chain with Southeast Asia will be discussed. What factors are accelerating shifts in manufacturing? Which SE Asian nations are at the forefront of attracting that supply chain investment and what do they have to offer? Will China remain at the forefront?

Beyond Health: How COVID-19 will Reshape International Development with Global Communities Experts David Weiss and Carrie Hessler-Radelet
(Originally aired on July 22, 2020)
Brief summary:
Countries that had been closing in on the elimination of poverty have been forced to change direction. The pandemic has exacerbated the precarious positioning of these already vulnerable populations. Join our experts as we discuss the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the countries surviving with no safety net and what we can do to help. Both David Weiss and Carrie Hessler-Radelet are executives with Global Communities, a global development and humanitarian assistance organization committed to working in partnership with communities worldwide to bring about sustainable, impactful changes that improve the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable. Working in 27 countries in Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America, Asia and Europe, Global Communities’ expertise includes innovation in rural sanitation, market-based workforce education, and strengthening civil society.

Leadership in These Turbulent Times with Four-Star General John Allen (ret.) and President of the Brookings Institution
(Originally aired on July 15, 2020)
Brief summary:
World Affairs Council Upstate is thrilled to welcome 4 Star General (ret) and President of the Brookings Institution, General John Allen. It has been said that leaders are not born, they are made. In these turbulent times we need to make more opportunities to increase diversity among our leaders. Join us for this thoughtful and timely discussion.

Foreign Policy in the Crosshairs: a Conversation with Ambassador Herbst
(Originally aired on July 9, 2020)
Brief summary:
Ambassador John Herbst shares over 30 years of experience as a foreign service officer to help us better understand the current state of our foreign policy, the good, the bad and the indifferent. What is  impacting U.S. Foreign Policy and what, if anything, can we learn from former National Security Advisor, John Bolton’s, new book? Ambassador Herbst will help us to make sense of the world in which we live, how the U.S. fits in to that world, and how the world views us.

Doing Business with Belgium and The Netherlands Post COVID-19 with Consuls General William De Baets, of Belgium, and Ard vander Vorst, of the Netherlands, presented in partnership with World Affairs Council Upstate, the Upstate SC Alliance and the European American Chamber of Commerce.
(Originally aired on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.)
Brief summary: We’re not just talking beer & waffles and windmills & tulips, next-door neighbors Belgium and the Netherlands are major players in each other’s economies. In 2018, over $133 billion dollars in economic activity was directly related to trade between the two countries. The two countries are also making a big impact in the Upstate. Over 30 industries in the region can trace their roots back to Belgium and the Netherlands. How has COVID-19 impacted the economies of Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as trade with the U.S. and S.C.?  Join us to hear from Consuls General William De Baets, of Belgium, and Ard vander Vorst, of the Netherlands, as they discuss trade between their countries and the U.S. and the impact of COVID-19.

Checks and Balances: Presidential Powers in a Crisis with Attorney Steven Buckingham, moderated by Professor Bill Lasser.
(Originally aired on June 3, 2020)
Brief summary: Steve Buckingham, a lawyer and mediator in Greenville, is particularly interested in the evolution of the rule of law, and how legal procedure was applied or abused at singular moments to shape the course of history. This is one of those historical moments. How will history judge our leaders? What powers are afforded to a president in times of crisis and do those moments of necessity set precedent that forever change the balance of power in a democracy?

Flight Changed the World: Will COVID-19 Change the Way we Travel?  with David Edwards, President/CEO of the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, and moderated by Elizabeth Feather.
(Originally aired on May 20, 2020)
Brief summary:Our lives have been forever changed by COVID-19 in many ways, not the least of which in our comfort and options when traveling.  “Should I cancel my trip?” “What is the risk of getting coronavirus on a plane and in the airport?” “How are airlines dealing with those risks?” “Can the airline industry survive if dramatically fewer people are willing to fly?” These and other issues of concern will be addressed by our expert, David Edwards, who has spent his entire career working in the aviation industry.

Power Plays: Civil Liberties or Public Health? with Sahar Vardi and Dr. Katherine Barbieri, moderated by Nathan Stock.
(Originally aired live on May , 2020)
Brief summary:Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, while responding to the public health emergency, governments around the world have been using extreme measures severely restricting civic space. While much of this is justified and needed to contain the pandemic, many governments around the world have taken advantage of the situation and are implementing new surveillance mechanisms, silencing opposition, and targeting marginalizing populations as part of ongoing oppression. This presentation will look at some of these restrictions from different countries, how they manifest, and what are some global trends to be aware of, as well as possible alternatives. Listen to Sahar Vardi and Dr. Katherine Barbieri as they focus on human rights and civil liberties as it relates to the COVID-19 response by different governments internationally as well as the response by the U.S. government.

Rebels vs. Rule Followers: In a Crisis Who Wins? with Michele Gelfand, moderated by Dr. Courtney Tollison
(Originally aired live on May 7, 2020)
Brief summary:  How are individuals, organizations, communities, and nations shaped by their cultures? Our speaker, Dr. Michele Gelfand has looked at the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of tight and loose cultures. The U.S., she says, is a loose culture with ambivalence toward measures that erode our autonomy and liberty. “The [coronavirus] response so far echoes our loose cultural programming. It’s been conflicted. It’s been unstandardized, it’s been uncoordinated,” she says. “We really do need to change our cultural programming in this context. The problem is that … it’s hard for us to give up liberty for constraint. But it’s critical for our safety.” Join Gelfand and moderator Dr. Courtney Tollison, historian, for this timely discussion.

Dirty Planet: What’s the Cost of a Clean Conscience? with John K. Glenn and Bill Marshall, moderated by Nathan Stock

(Originally aired live on April 29, 2020)
Brief summary: We all know that the burning of carbon based fuels releases CO2, the major cause of global climate change.  But did you know that there has been a disproportionate impact of climate change on the developing world? Our distinguished speakers will focus on how businesses in both the US and around the world are responding to the challenges and what they are doing to effect change in industry standards and policy responses. Tune in with John Glenn, Policy Director for the USGLC and Bill Marshall who has over 25 years experience as a COO and CFO of international business units for Dun & Bradstreet.

Celebrating  50 Years of Earth Day Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis with Weston Dripps, moderated by Nathan Stock
(Originally aired live on April 22, 2020)
Brief summary: Join Weston Dripps, Furman University’s Executive Director of the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, for a virtual celebration of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. He will share some of the highlights from the past 50 years of the environmental movement, some environmental observations from the impacts of the covid 19 crisis, and the exciting, emerging field of sustainability science as the path forward for the next 50 years.

Bracing for Impact: Coronavirus and the Global Economy with Dr. Brent Nelsen and Dr. Tom Smythe
(Originally aired live on April 15, 2020).
Brief summary: A pandemic runs rampant. Globalization facilitated the transmission of the coronavirus and will be transformed by it. We have not yet felt the full economic and political impact of COVID-19, but we can begin to see some early effects. Tune in as Professors Brent Nelsen (Politics and International Affairs, Furman University) and Thomas Smythe (Finance, Florida Gulf Coast University) examine the coming economic shock.

Spread the Word, Not the Virus: Communication in the Time of COVID-19 with Dr. Shaniece Criss, Furman University, and moderated by Nathan Stock.
(Originally aired live on April 7, 2020).
Brief summary:  There has been so much information about COVID-19, but how do communication strategies make a difference in protecting our community. Dr. Shaniece Criss will discuss the benefits of health crisis communication, and ways you can make a difference. How do we transfer words into actions to keep our community safe?  Join Dr. Criss, and our moderator, Nathan Stock, for a fascinating look at what to say, and not say, in times of crisis.

“Spread the Word, Not the Virus” PDF Slides, click image below.

Join The World Affairs Council Upstate 

Join us in educating ourselves on, and promoting a global perspective in, our increasingly inter-dependent world by becoming a member of WACU.

WACU Memberships:

  • Individual Membership: $100.
  • Family Membership $125.
  • Corporate Business Memberships at various levels.  Contact Tracie Frese to find the right fit for your organization. Email her at [email protected]

WACU Benefits:

  • Free admission or discounts on events and programs
  • Automatic membership in Upstate International
  • Publication discounts, including: Foreign Affairs (30% off), Foreign Policy (40% off), The Economist (10% off), The New Yorker (80% off), Harper’s Magazine (38% off), Brookings Institution (20% off books) and World Policy Journal (20% off).
  • Access to World Affairs of Council of America (WACA) Resources: WACA Leadership Network; Discussion Boards, Resource Materials, Authors, Events, and Programming
  • WACA Weekly Digest with updates from around the WACA National Network, including attendance and virtual participation opportunities in programs and discussions with U.S. and international leaders, as well as access to a virtual library of renowned speakers and special events.

Join Now: Click Here 

Engage Opportunities with World Affairs Councils of America

Cover to Cover is a monthly program featuring the most influential authors on subjects of national and international importance.

Offered as a benefit to all current WACA Member Councils, Cover to Cover conference calls are opportunities for Council leaders, members, and supporters to engage with esteemed authors on critical issues. Cover to Cover authors often welcome invitations to speak at Councils. In short, the WACA National Office covers a topic with an expert so that Councils may discover a speaker and cover the topic in even greater depth in their own communities, spearheading a national conversation.

WACA Podcasts feature the most influential authors and experts on subjects of national and international importance. Moderated by WACA President and CEO Bill Clifford.

Listen to the Latest Podcast

KNOW NOW Conference Call Series

The World Affairs Councils of America is pleased to present the Know Now conference call series. These calls will feature global thought leaders hosted by WACA as well as local authorities in government, business, academia and cultural fields who are identified and moderated by local Councils, using our national conference call platform to bring local and national issues of global dimensions to our network.

Leadership Missions

For more than two decades, the World Affairs Councils of America has been invited to bring small delegations of council leaders to learn about a host country.  A leadership mission is an overseas fact-finding visit to a city, country, or international organization by a national leadership delegation of the World Affairs Council movement.

TRAVEL the WORLD with World Affairs Councils of America.  Many of our WACA affiliates offer travel programs to cooperating councils, just another benefit of a WACU membership. The trips offer all the highlights of touring, as well as access to political leaders and local experts for behind the scenes briefings not available to most tourists.  Many WACA tours feature Council leaders who are experts in their fields of diplomacy, journalism or academia to create added-value experiences.  And, perhaps most importantly, travelers become Citizen Diplomats with an opportunity to ‘meet the people’ to foster the dynamic exchange of international cultures and ideas.

Please click for details about the World Affairs Council of Charlotte and the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia upcoming travel opportunities .

WACU Steering Committee