The ninth edition of the world affairs forum will be offered March 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Shepaug Valley middle/high school library in Washington.

The free event will be hosted by Shepaug Valley High School's U.S. foreign policy class.

Student panelists will be Brendan Welsh, Kathryn Paul, Claire Hagen, Quaid Cain, Kyle Lundie, Kelby Lawson, Mike Korniewicz, Dylan Fairbairn and Tommy McCluskey.

The keynote speaker will be Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize award-winning reporter and author.

He was editor of New York Newsday, where his foreign staffs won five Pulitzers for international reporting. Mr. Payne's weekly columns were syndicated by Tribune Media Services.

His journalism has covered issues in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the United Nations.

Some of Mr. Payne's most notable work involved covering the international drug trade, the Symbionese Liberation Army and the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa.

He is also a founder and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Mr. Payne is a frequent lecturer and delivered the commencement address to the University of Connecticut's class of 2003.

His blog is available at

Mr. Payne and student panelists will engage community members in the following two questions:

What will be the greatest foreign policy challenges for the next administration?

How can the United States engage the United Nations in resolving these challenges?

A "meet and greet" with the panelists will follow the discussion.

Refreshments will be provided.