U.S. and Russian High School Teachers Explore Nuclear Nonproliferation at the Critical Issues Forum Teacher Workshop
The 2009-2010 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) launched another successful year of the program at a teachers workshop held from November 12 to 14, 2009 at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in Monterey. Sixteen U.S. teachers and three Russian teachers participated in the workshop to develop curricula this year’s topic “Nuclear Nonproliferation: Global Opportunities and Regional Challenges.” The group included eight new American teachers from four schools new to the CIF program. Teachers from high schools in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin attended, along with Russian teachers from the cities of Novouralsk and Zelenogorsk. Russian teachers will hold a parallel workshop in January in Novouralsk with the rest of the participating teachers from Russia’s closed nuclear cities: Lesnoy, Ozersk, Sarov, Seversk, Snezhinsk, Trekhgorniy, Zarechniy, and Zheleznogorsk.
The topic reflected the new momentum in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament in preparation for the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. While the global movement to strengthen the international nuclear nonproliferation regime is increasing, the international community has been continuously challenged by regional nonproliferation concerns, including Iran and North Korea. This year’s CIF program challenges participants to investigate how regional security issues in which WMD play a significant role will impact on the outcome of the Review Conference and to explore how to improve regional security while strengthening the NPT regime. With this in mind, CNS staff and experienced high school teachers worked together to develop the curriculum and teaching materials for this year’s CIF topic, and introduced them at the workshop. Experts from CNS and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) shared their expertise through lectures and interactive sessions.
The workshop consisted of three components: content-lectures by CNS experts and a guest speaker; instruction on how to conduct the CIF program with students; and teacher-led discussions on how to further improve the program. The lectures included an overview of the current nuclear weapons status in the world, the basics of nuclear weapons technology, Introduction to the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime, prospects for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and recent initiatives in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. On the second day of the workshop, lectures were focused on current regional challenges in nuclear nonproliferation, including South Asia, the Middle East, and Northeast Asia. The workshop also included a debate between Monterey Institute nonproliferation students on whether the international community should negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Convention to ban all nuclear weapons.
The CIF program’s goal is consistent with the CNS mission to train the next generation of nonproliferation specialists and raise global public awareness on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) issues. High school students rarely have an opportunity to study nonproliferation and disarmament of WMD. The CIF program provides high school students with a precious opportunity to study international security and WMD issues, aiming to make an impact in securing a more peaceful world in the future. CIF partners believe that disarmament and nonproliferation education for young people, including high school students, is one of the most important measures to enhance peace and security in the world.
The teachers participating in the workshop will work with their students on the topic of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament for the remainder of the school year. Teachers and students will return to Monterey to present projects demonstrating their study of WMD issues at a student-teacher conference in April 2010.CNS is grateful to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ford Foundation for their support of CIF.