Fred Gerlach with wife Ana in Rome
Briefings and 
Short Courses on
World Affairs


Frederick H. Gerlach, Ph.D. 

The Importance of Knowing about the World

The tragic events of September 11 have reminded us in a most brutal way that the U.S. is not an impregnable island and that we ignore the affairs beyond our shores at our peril. In fact, by almost any objective measure, we are more involved than ever before with the rest of the world: Not just the acts of foreign terrorists, but all sorts of benign phenomena prove this: The origin of the goods purchased for our households, our travel destinations, the competition faced by our employers, and the presence of so many immigrants among us are but a few examples.

And yet, the "smaller" the world becomes for us, the less we seem to know about it. How often, before the current crisis, did the evening news offer any coverage at all - much less coverage in depth - on developments abroad? And who could claim that our local newspapers did any better? The sad result is that most Americans know very little about world affairs.

Even the exceptions - those most interested in world affairs - often fall short. While  people may have learned a lot about Afghanistan recently, how many of us really know the issues involved in globalization, the Arab-Israel problem or the rise and fall of oil prices? How many of us realize that decisions in far-away countries - like those of the Japanese central bank concerning money supply - can ultimately affect the U.S. economy? And, on a more practical note, how many of us are aware of what our embassies are doing - and can do - for us abroad?

A Short-Term Solution

Unfortunately, serious books on world affairs subjects take a lot of time to read. University courses - replete with theory - are even more deterring. What most people would like is a summary of the facts they need to know about a given subject, with a chance to ask questions and to prompt discussions on points of particular interest.

Fred Gerlach offers that approach - through short courses and extended briefings on the subjects he knows best. Drawing on decades of experience abroad as a student, a U.S. diplomat and a private business consultant, he brings life to subjects that might otherwise seem dull. Yet what he has to say is authoritative, based on highly relevant personal expertise and on the theoretical underpinnings of a Ph. D. at Columbia University in New York, one of the world's preeminent institutions for international affairs education.

Briefings and Short Courses Offered

  • American Foreign Policy in the Terrorism Age. Factors that influence policy ("national interest", domestic politics, foreign events, etc.). How policy is made (the role of foreign affairs agencies, White House, Congress, private persons, etc.) and implemented (bureaucratic structures, personal diplomacy, etc.). Current major issues (the war on terrorism, missile defense, Middle East peace, globalization, etc.). Two to twelve hours.
  • World of Islam. How this great world religion got started. Review of its golden age and contributions to world culture. Modern countries where Muslims constitute the majority. Do's and don'ts to keep in mind when visiting such countries. The relationship of Islam to terrorism, democracy and the rights of women. One to ten hours.
  • Oil and Energy Policy. Introduction to the world markets for oil and other energy sources. The impact of these markets on the U.S. energy situation. The risks of supply disruptions and other factors influencing U.S. energy policy. Two to twelve hours.

  • Middle East Politics and Economics. Basic historical and geographical factors that created the Middle East and North Africa as currently constituted. Summary analysis of area governments. The role of Islam. Major issues, including the Palestinian problem, Iraq policy, and U.S. reliance on Middle East oil. Two to twelve hours.
  • Living and Working in Saudi Arabia. Economic, historical and social background of the Kingdom. Government organization and role. The three principal urban areas compared and contrasted. Daily life. Social do's and don'ts. One to three hours.
  • Living and Working in Germany. Summary of the country's history, geography, and economy. Government organization and role. The social diversity of the country. Daily life. Social do's and don'ts.One to three hours.

  • World Affairs for Beginners. The basic historical, economic, geographic, and social forces that have made the world what it is today. Nation-states. International political, economic and financial organizations. International business and other private actors. Key issues, including globalization, energy and the environment, terrorism, and regional conflicts. Three to six hours.
  • International Political Economy. An analysis of the contemporary world, focusing on current issues - notably globalization - and aiming at an understanding of the complex political and economic interactions of nation-states and other international "actors". How dynamic trade, economic development and political factors can strain the system, at times to the point of armed conflict.  Six to twenty hours.

General Information

  • Briefings and short courses are intended for businesses with specific training needs or for educational institutions catering to specific groups, such as teachers interested in maintaining and upgrading their skills.

  • The length of each briefing/short course is subject to negotiation, within the parameters indicated at the end of the respective description. The sponsoring business or educational institution normally provides the venue.

  • Ten percent of the applicable fee is payable when the briefings are scheduled; the balance within seven days after their completion.

Biographic Information (click on to view CV)

A native of Wisconsin, Fred Gerlach is a graduate of Wauwatosa East high school. He took his B.A. in German from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and a master's and Ph.D. in international relations and Middle East area studies from Columbia University (New York City); the topic of his doctoral dissertation was "The Tragic Triangle: Israel, Divided Germany and the Arabs, 1956-1965".

Fred served as a Foreign Service Officer of the United States from 1966 to 1987 and has since worked as an international business consultant in Germany (1987-1996) and Milwaukee (1997-present). He has been listed in Who's Who in America and is a member of the UWM Institute of World Affairs, the American Foreign Service Association, and the Middle East Institute. His specific professional experience relevant to the course offerings includes the following positions:

  • Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1978-82.
  • Deputy Director of the Energy Office of the State Department, 1982-85.
  • Deputy Chief of Mission / Chargé d'Affaires, American Embassy, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 1985-87.
  • Representative in Germany for a U.S. brokerage firm, 1990-1995.
  • Lecturer on "International Political Economy", a master's degree course in Boston University's Overseas Program, Germany, 1991-1994.
  • Adjunct Lecturer, "International Political Economy", Cardinal Stritch University, 2003
  • Adjunct Lecturer, "World of Islam" and "Global Dimensions in Business", Concordia University of Wisconsin, 2003-present
  • Adjunct Lecturer, "Politics of the Middle East and North Africa," University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2003-04


Available on request.

Contact Information

Frederick H. Gerlach, Ph. D.
3248 S. New York Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53207
Telephone: 414-294-5887
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