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Only one week into 2015, and January has proven to be anything but a sleepy, slow month — one often hushed by the deep cold in some parts of the world and hot summer days elsewhere.

The end of 2014 came with all kinds of predictions, hopes and warnings for 2015, some of which are suddenly closer than ever: there are now indications that U.S. President Barack Obama will veto Keystone Pipeline legislation; the family of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who has been imprisoned in Egypt for more than a year, is now saying his release or deportation may be imminent; and the World Health Organization is reporting the spread of Ebola could be slowing.

The New Year is without a doubt upon us.

Shots in Paris reverberated around the world this week, providing a sobering reminder that dialogue that dominated headlines and policy circles last year will certainly continue — especially with regards to terrorism, racial and religious tensions, and freedom of the press.

Wednesday’s attack that killed 12 people, including some of France’s best known political cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, prompted immediate outrage, sadness and acts of solidarity.

And, with that, suddenly more questions for 2015: will such attacks strengthen our devotion to free speech but meanwhile further flame anti-Islamic sentiments? Why do some attacks lead headlines, inspire hashtags and prompt massive, global rallies, while others less so, such as the unfathomable killing of 132 young students less than a month ago in Pakistan?

Clearly, some events and ensuing debates are harder to see coming. While others require that we plan, prepare and rally our troops (military and otherwise) in advance.

For those crucial trends and turn of events, we asked several leading thinkers to provide their insights into what Canada, and the world, can expect in 2015 in six critical areas: violence, finance, tech, development, climate change, and global order.

The number of questions guiding our coverage this year is far larger than we were able to explore in the features below. For instance, will Canada live up to its recent promise to help resettle 10,000 new Syrian refugees? What will result from Palestine’s membership into the International Criminal Court? And, perhaps most importantly, how will foreign policy factor in this year’s federal election?

We look forward to finding out. In the meantime, let these expert commentaries be your guide to 2015.

In the series

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More peace on earth than ever before?

Scott Gilmore on what to expect for violence in 2015.
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A soft or crash landing for Canada?

Madelaine Drohan on what to expect from finance in 2015.
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Setting new terms of reference for the global economy

John McArthur on what to expect for development in 2015.
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In praise of the emerging debate around energy

Tzeporah Berman on what to expect for climate change action in 2015.
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An emergent zone of ambiguous rules and actors

Saskia Sassen on what to expect for global order in 2015.