2014-2015 CIF Workshop Report

2014-2015 Critical Issues Forum Project Starts with Online Teachers’ Workshop

The academic year 2014-2015 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) project kicked off with the online teachers workshop that was held during the first and second week of December.  One of flagship education projects at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), CIF is a unique nonproliferation and disarmament education project for high school teachers and students around the world to promote awareness of the importance of these issues. This is the second year for the CIF project to conduct the teachers’ workshop completely online.

This year’s topic is “Nuclear Disarmament: Humanitarian Approach,” which is really timely, especially, when the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact on Nuclear Weapons was held in Vienna around the same time as the CIF teachers workshop. The CIF project members hope that high school students, who will be future world leaders, will think about nuclear disarmament issues from humanitarian perspectives and how this initiative leads to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

Teachers from Japan, Russia’s closed nuclear cities, and U.S. schools around the country participated in the online workshop. Participants engaged both synchronously and concurrently with the online workshops, and asynchronously, at a later, more convenient for them, given time differences.  All workshop sessions were recorded and remain available on the CIF website for asynchronous viewing.

The humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has drawn increasing attention as a fundamental global threat posed by nuclear weapons. Although the number of nuclear weapons in global stockpiles is declining, the risk of their use, by accident or design, appears to be growing. Any such use would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

While international and national leaders are tackling this fundamentally important issue, it is also essential for younger generations to learn and think critically about this issue in order to understand the threat of nuclear weapons.

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing anniversary, while the states parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will meet to review the treaty at the quinquennial Review Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Most importantly, the CIF Spring Conference will be held in Hiroshima immediately before the Review Conference.

CIF project manager, Masako Toki opened the online workshop with introductory remarks outlining this year’s project with emphasis on the significance of humanitarian approach in nuclear disarmament. Then, Mr. Bryan Lee, CNS Deputy Director, gave welcome remarks to workshop participants on behalf of CNS.

This year’s workshop lectures covered a wide range of topics related to humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Lectures included global nonproliferation regimes, the current world status of nuclear weapons, the basics of nuclear weapons, 2015 NPT Review Conference and the Humanitarian Initiative, the impact of the use of nuclear weapons, the role of nuclear weapons states in advancing nuclear disarmament, civil society’s role in nuclear disarmament, and the costs of US nuclear weapons.

Ms. Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, director of CNS’s International Organization and Nonproliferation Program, laid out prospects of the 2015 NPT Review Conference and how the discussion on humanitarian approach will evolve based on her in-depth analysis and firsthand experience as a participant in the second international humanitarian conference in Mexico. She was also about to leave for Vienna to participate in the third humanitarian conference.

Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Scientist-in-Residence at CNS portrayed how nuclear weapons work including basic physics in his lecture. He also gave a lecture on the impact of the use of nuclear weapons from scientific perspectives.

For the complete lecture videos, presentations, please visit the CIF website’s teachers’ workshop page: http://sites.miis.edu/criticalissuesforum/2014/12/02/14_15teacherslectures/

After teachers have studied these topics using the online materials, they will work with their students at their own schools towards the Spring Conference that will be held in Hiroshima, Japan to commemorate the 70th anniversary of atomic bombing, in early April.

This year, we expect to have several Japanese high schools from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. high schools from around the country, and schools from Russia’s closed nuclear cities.

CNS is grateful to the United States-Japan Foundation for their support of CIF.


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