Teachers from 12 U.S. high schools in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin, three schools in Russia’s closed nuclear cities of Novouralsk, Zelenogorsk, and Snezhinsk, and one Chinese high school in Beijing participated in the 2011-2012 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) Teacher Development Workshop from December 1-3, 2011, at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The CIF is a unique nonproliferation education program for high school students. This year the participating schools are tackling one of the most challenging and pressing issues in the international peace and security field—nuclear safety and security.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident reawakened the world to the fact that, while the probability of accidents or attacks against nuclear power plant is relatively low, their potential consequences could be extremely grave. The accident was a wake-up call to address serious shortcomings in nuclear safety and security around the world.
Consultation with CNS Experts
At the workshop, teachers were introduced to this year’s curriculum benchmarks that the CIF project team developed in consultation with CNS content experts, and received instruction on how to conduct the CIF program with students. CNS experts delivered lectures of various aspects related to nuclear safety and security. The content lectures included:
- An overview of the mechanics of nuclear energy
- A discussion on the increasing interest in nuclear energy, especially in developing countries in Asia and the Middle East
- The intersection between nuclear safety and security, nuclear terrorism
- Challenges in nuclear safety such as past nuclear power plant accidents, including Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima accidents
Participants also discussed:
- How to solve the issue of nuclear spent fuel
- How to control and govern nuclear safety and security issues both domestically and internationally.
Participants were actively engaged in the discussions and many lively questions were raised.
This year, local high schools in Monterey, including Santa Catalina, York and Monterey High School, participated in the program for the first time.
In addition, two European schools (United World College Moster in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and United World College Maastricht in the Netherlands), and Amman Baccalaureate School in Amman, Jordan joined the workshop using a Web conference tool.
The Russian teachers will hold a parallel workshop in mid-December in Novouralsk with other participating teachers from Russia’s closed nuclear cities: Lesnoy, Ozersk, Sarov, Seversk, Trekhgorniy, Zarechniy, and Zheleznogorsk.
Special Conference in Vienna
The 2011-12 CIF academic year coincides with the run-up to the second Nuclear Security Summit to be held in Seoul in March 2012, and the first session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that will be held in May 2012 in Vienna, where an emphasis is expected to be placed on nuclear safety and security.
The teachers participating in the workshop will work with their students on the topic of nuclear safety and security during the semester for the final project, and selected schools will attend a special conference in Vienna to be held as a side event of the NPT Preparatory Committee session.