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 2022 WACU events:

Check back here for future WACU events!

 Questions? Interested in sponsor opportunities? Please 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.

Will the Real Winner Please Stand Up: US – China Trade War with Dr. Brent Nelsen
(Originally presented in-person 12/16/2021)

Brief summary: The last administration launched a trade war against China. The current administration, to the surprise of many, has not dismantled the center-piece of the war, tariffs on some Chinese imports. Complicating the situation, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions to supply chains that have ensued. In this talk, Dr. Nelsen discussed the origins and conduct of the US trade war with China and how the pandemic has shaped and reshaped it in 2021.

Rising Discontent in Russia: Is Vladimir Putin’s Regime Vulnerable? with Dr. Matthew Placek
(Originally aired 10/12/2021)

Brief summary: Over the last 20 years, Vladimir Putin has used various methods to consolidate an authoritarian regime in Russia. Despite media coverage of opposition movements and opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin’s regime remains stable. This lecture will discuss the mechanisms of consolidation and control used by Vladimir Putin and his affiliated United Russia party. Further, it will discuss the attitudes of ordinary Russians toward the regime, and the prospects for change within it.

“The No Rights Zone”:  Violence Against Muslims in China with Dr. Katherine “Kate” Palmer Kaup
(Originally aired 9/15/2021)

Brief summary: The Chinese government has forced more than a million Muslims into internment camps, where they face psychological and physical torture. The vast majority are ethnic Uighurs, a Turkic minority group living in Xinjiang, though the “Sinification of Islam Campaign” now impacts several minority groups and regions. While many outside of China accuse the Communist Party of genocide, Chinese officials adamantly insist the internment camps are “vocational training schools” and a necessary tool for “combatting extremist thought and international terrorism”. What, if anything, can be done to improve conditions in Xinjiang? How will developments in Afghanistan, and increasing US-China tensions impact the plight of China’s Muslim population?

Navigating the Poles: the New Frontier of Polar Diplomacy with William Muntean and moderated by Dr. Weston Dripps
(Originally aired 7/20/2021)

Brief summary:While it is hot outside, cool off with a discussion of the international politics and policies of the polar regions. Join our expert, William Muntean, Senior Advisor on Antarctic Policy for the U.S.  Department of State.  Learn why the U.S. foreign policy affecting the polar regions has as its goal maintaining peace and protecting these areas for scientific research. What are the unique challenges impacting the polar regions and why is international cooperation so vital to preserving this unique environment? The event will be moderated by Dr. Weston Dripps, the Executive Director of the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities and a Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences at Furman University.

Losing the Rainforest: Do Brazil’s Policies Threaten Our Future? with Dr. Karen Allen, Bob Inglis and moderated by Dr. Weston Dripps
(Originally aired 4/15/2021)

Brief summary: The globally important Amazon Rainforest is being threatened by fires, deforestation and possibly even development under the current Brazilian administration. Does this make Brazil a “climate outlaw” or is there more to the story?   The Amazon plays a critical role in the Earth’s climate system as the most important ecosystem in the world. For years Brazil was a global leader in climate change, but in 2020 deforestation surged to a 12-year high and Brazil is heading toward missing its own target for reducing annual deforestation established in a 2009 climate change law. How should Brazil protect this important ecosystem for everyone, while also taking care of its citizens and economic development.  Join WACU’s conversation as we explore this issue with our experts.

Policing Styles: Does Europe Have a Better Model? with Dr. Kelsey Shoub, Dr. Paul Hirschfield, and moderated by Capt. Stacey Owens.
(Originally aired 3/23/2021)
Brief Summary: The protests for racial justice erupted amidst a global pandemic and shone a light on the ongoing problem of systemic racism in the United States. How to address the disparity in how minorities are treated, especially concerning policing, became of primary importance. Dr. Kelsey Shoub, co-author of Suspect Citizens What 200 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race, will discuss how even the most routine interaction between police and citizens, the traffic stop, can be a window into racial inequality. What is the answer? In Paul Hirschfield’s article, Policing the Police: U.S. and European Models, he suggests that we look to Europe. European policing is more centralized with national guidelines governing appropriate police behavior and extended training that focuses on de-escalation, community building, and the use of non-lethal methods of problem solving. Could our friends across the Atlantic help us develop a better model of policing?

Global Cry for Racial Justice: An America and the World Conversation with Todd Shaw and Chris Richardson
(Originally aired 2/11/2021)
Brief Summary:
Around the world people stood in solidarity this past summer with anti-racism protesters who brought attention to the U.S. legacy of systemic racism and police brutality after the Memorial Day death of George Floyd. “Black Lives Matter” ricocheted around the world and shone light on institutionalized racism in other parts of the globe.  Many countries have had to reflect on their own shortcomings in dealing with race issues and the obstacles their own citizens of color face. Could George Floyd’s death result in a global call to action? Be part of the important discussion of how this summer’s protests became a global rallying cry.

Who Is Watching America and What Do They See?An America and the World Conversationwith Kyle David Anderson and David Esch
(Originally aired 1/12/2021)

Brief Summary: The United States has modeled itself as a leader in the free world, boasting a democratic government and universally appealing values. Yet this year has tested the idea of “American Exceptionalism”. When considering the national response to the coronavirus, polarization along party lines, reaction to systemic racism, and a contested election, our global image has taken a hit. Now the world watches to see how a Biden presidency could impact U.S. relations with the rest of the world. Join our experts as they discuss our global reputation.

Tragedy in Beirut, An America and the World Conversation with Chris McNaboe and moderated by Nathan Stock

(Originally aired 11/19/2020)

Brief Summary: Lebanon is no stranger to adversity, but the massive explosion in Beirut this past August (2020) was devastating. It left 6000 injured, at least 200 dead, and 300,000 homeless. Chris McNaboe, living in Beirut when the explosion occurred, will provide an eyewitness account on what happened and the aftermath. Why is the health and recovery of this country so important to the United States? Lebanon is vital for helping to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East. Our discussion will explore the history of Lebanon leading up to the tragedy, the impact of the blast compounded during a pandemic, and what the prognosis will be for this small country moving forward.

The Future of Our Food Safety with Mark Moorman, the Director of the Office of Food Safety at the FDA
(Originally aired 11/5/2020)

Brief Summary: In our increasingly global market, where does our food come from and is it always safe? The pandemic crisis has accelerated the need for increased traceability of our food and better methods to predict disruptions in our food supply. In the future, rapid response to foodborne illnesses and outbreaks will become increasingly vital to our feelings of security concerning food.  The FDA predicts that we will see more changes in the food system in the next 10 years than we have in decades. To address these challenges they have released a blueprint that ushers in “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety,” which outlines the role each of us will share in helping ensure our food is safe moving forward.

Why It Matters: The Belarus Protests,An America and the World Conversation with David DeBatto, Michal Matlak, and moderated by Professor Brent Nelsen
(Originally aired 10/29/2020)

Brief Summary: 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?

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 at 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 Supply Chain Management (CGSCM) and Academic Director at USC Marshall MS GSCM program.
(Originally aired on 10/7/2020)

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 9/24/2020)

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 8/18/2020)

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