High School Teachers Investigate Nuclear Issues
in the Middle East
High School teachers from the United States, Russia and China participated in the 2010-2011 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) Teacher Development workshop held November 18 – 20, 2010, at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). The teacher workshop is the first event of the year-long CIF program. This year’s topic “Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East” challenges CIF participants to investigate the formidable nuclear nonproliferation problems in the region vital to global security and the world economy.
Teachers from nine U.S. high schools in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin attended this year’s workshop, along with Russian teachers from the cities of Novouralsk, Zelenogorsk and Snezhinsk. In addition, this year, for the first time, a Chinese teacher from Tsinghua High School in Beijing participated in the CIF program. The Russian teachers will hold a parallel workshop in January in Novouralsk with other participating teachers from Russia’s closed nuclear cities: Lesnoy, Ozersk, Sarov, Seversk, Trekhgorniy, Zarechniy, and Zheleznogorsk.
At the workshop, teachers were introduced to this year’s curriculum benchmarks that the CIF project team developed, and received instruction on how to conduct the CIF program with students. The content lectures covered an overview of political and strategic dynamics in the region, key countries’ proliferation challenges, Middle Eastern countries’ increasing interests in nuclear energy, and historical aspects, current status, and future prospects for establishing a nuclear -weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Dr. Fred Wehling, Education Program director and Middle East specialist, began the series of content lectures by laying out an overview of the Middle East security situation through historical and contemporary perspectives. This year’s CIF Teacher Workshop particularly benefitted from the participation of CNS’s new Middle East experts in the Washington D.C. office, Avner Cohen and Chen Kane. Dr Cohen, a leading expert on Israel’s nuclear program, gave a lecture on Israel’s nuclear weapons issues. Dr. Kane, another distinguished Middle East specialist in the Washington D.C. office, discussed Middle Eastern countries’ increasing interests in nuclear power and potential dangers posed by the projected expansion of nuclear energy.
The lecture given by Dr. Patricia Lewis, CNS Deputy Director and Scientist-in-Residence, focused on the history of negotiations toward the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. It analyzed the current status of the negotiations, progress thus far, and future prospects—in particular, the planned Middle East conference to be held in 2012. A guest speaker from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory gave a lecture on Iran’s nuclear development, one of the most contentious issues in the region.
In addition to these lectures, Monterey Institute students specialized in Nonproliferation Studies presented positive and negative aspects of four different approaches to solving proliferation challenges in the Middle East, including international safeguards, economic sanctions, establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone, and military options.
The workshop allocated three sessions to teacher-led discussions where teachers shared their experience in conducting the CIF program. Each teacher led a lively discussion aimed at helping to improve the program. On the last day of the workshop, participants discussed the future direction of the high school nonproliferation education program with the goal of enhancing the quality of students’ final presentations and reaching out to a larger number of high schools all around the world.
The teachers participating in the workshop will work with their students on the topic of nuclear issues in the Middle East for the remainder of the school year. Teachers and students will come to Monterey to present projects demonstrating their study of this year’s topic at a student-teacher conference in April 2011. CNS is grateful to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ford Foundation for their support of CIF.