Activities and Events

Recent and upcoming nonproliferation activities, events, and announcements involving the CNS center, staff, and programs.
Updated: Dec 14, 2012

Japanese & American High School Teachers Discuss the Possibility of a World Without Nuclear Weapons

High school teachers from Japan and the United States discuss nuclear disarmament at the Critical Issues Forum's teachers' training workshop.

For the first time in the Critical Issues Forum's (CIF) history, Japanese high school teachers from Hiroshima and Nagasaki participated in the teachers' workshop along with five US high school teachers. Five American teachers from California, including two from schools in Monterey and one from Sacramento, as well as others from Massachusetts and Wisconsin, gathered at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) from November 29 to December 1, 2012.

In addition to these teachers who participated in the face-to-face meeting, several Russian teachers and US teachers joined the workshop using an online conference tool.

Two teachers from Hiroshima, front, focus on a lecture.
Two teachers from Hiroshima, front, focus on a lecture.

A Nuclear Weapon-Free World

This year's CIF topic is Toward a World without Nuclear Weapons: Progress, Prospects, and Challenges. It focuses on the two-fold question of the feasibility and desirability of a world free of nuclear weapons. Teachers at the workshop explored progress made and challenges that still remain toward that goal with CNS experts.

It is significant for both American and Japanese teachers to study this topic at this critical time in nuclear history, considering rising threats in the Middle East and East Asia. The participation of three high schools from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities that experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in August 1945, is particularly enriching, as they are among the most active schools for peace and disarmament education, and eager to work with US high schools for future generations.

Avner Cohen
Dr. Avner Cohen, Director of the Nonproliferation Education Program, discusses the roles of civil society in delegitimizing nuclear weapons.

The Critical Issues Forum Workshop

The Critical Issues Forum (CIF) is a unique program of project-based education and outreach activities designed to promote awareness of nonproliferation, disarmament, and international peace and security issues and to develop critical thinking skills by high school students. CIF develops appreciation among the participants of different national and cultural perspectives on complex but vital international security issues.

At the workshop, teachers were introduced to this year's curriculum that the CIF project team developed in consultation with CNS experts, and received instruction on how to conduct the CIF program with students. CNS experts delivered lectures of various aspects related to nuclear disarmament, progress, and challenges.

Aruni Wijewardane
Ambassador Aruni Wijewardane, Director of the International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program, lectures on the roles of non-nuclear weapon states to the path toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

Lectures by CNS Experts

Content lectures included the current status of nuclear weapons worldwide, including the number of nuclear weapons in both Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) nuclear weapon states, and non-NPT nuclear weapon states, factual information such as the scientific aspects of nuclear weapons, including basic weapons types and design, and the effects of nuclear weapon use.

Content lectures were given by CNS experts and MIIS faculty members:

  • Dr. Jeffrey Knopf, Chair of Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at the Monterey Institute and Senior Research Associate at CNS, gave the first lecture, laying out the overview of the current world nuclear status and presenting the proliferation concerns. [View his lecture slides]
  • Ms. Amanda Moodie, Research Associate for the International Organization and Nonproliferation Program (IONP), focused on multilateral nonproliferation and disarmament regimes and the roles of international organizations in order to make progress for nuclear disarmament. [View her lecture slides]
  • Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, East Asia Nonproliferation Program (EANP) Director at CNS, invited participants to think through US-Russia bilateral arms control progress and possible global nuclear disarmament.
  • Mr. Jon Wolfsthal, CNS Deputy Director and former Special Advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden for nuclear security and nonproliferation, presented domestic and international political obstacles to nuclear disarmament. His experience at the White House animated the complex nuclear policy decision-making process as well as evolving policies on nuclear deterrence.

Participants also studied the role of nuclear weapons during and after the Cold War, and investigated why countries attempt to acquire nuclear weapons, the concept of deterrence and various current and past efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons including multilateral, bilateral, and unilateral initiatives.

Participants also discussed progress toward nuclear disarmament, as well as the remaining political and technical challenges, including new proliferation threats posed by Iran and North Korea, and the possible acquisition of nuclear material or weapons by terrorist groups.

Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress
Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Scientist-in-Residence at CNS, discusses nuclear weapons from a scientific perspective.

Scientific Perspectives

The workshop also provided scientific perspectives to discuss fundamental and technical challenges toward a world free of nuclear weapons. CIF teachers benefitted from enhanced science education at the hands of CNS's in-house nuclear physicists.

Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, CNS Scientist-in-Residence, discussed what nuclear weapons are from a technical perspective, including different weapons designs.

Dr. George Moore and Dr. Yousaf Butt, two other Scientists-in-Residence who joined CNS this year, discussed the effects of the use of nuclear weapons and technical challenges in nuclear disarmament, respectively.

View Workshop Slides & Agenda

View the agenda for the complete lectures slides.

Jeffrey Knopf
Dr. Jeffrey Knopf, Program Chair, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, lectures on nuclear weapons in today's world.

Discussions and Lively Questions

Participants actively engaged in discussions and raised many lively questions. Teachers who had previously participated in the program shared their experiences regarding effective ways to implement the CIF program at each school. On the last day of the workshop, teachers discussed the future direction of the high school nonproliferation education program with the goal of enhancing the quality of students' work and reaching out to a larger number of high schools all around the world.

The teachers who participated in the workshop will work with their students on the topic of nuclear disarmament during the next semester. Participants are also encouraged to communicate with other schools. In order to enhance the US-Japan exchange, students in both countries will communicate with each other using online communication technology in the process of conducting the project.

Teachers and students will come back to Monterey to present projects demonstrating their study of this year's topic at a student-teacher conference in April 2013.

CNS is grateful to the US—Japan Foundation for their support of the CIF.

Workshop participants
Participants in the 2012 CIF teachers' workshop.

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