Category Archives: Student

2014-2015 Students’ Presentations

Opening Speeches

U.S. Schools: 

Choate Rosemary Hall, Walingford, CT
Presentation: The Humanitarian Imperative

Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA
Presentation: A Pathway to Peace

Harker School, San Jose, CA
Presentation: A Comparative Analysis of the Feasibility of Nuclear Disarmament Through Humanitarian Considerations

Rock University High School, Janesville, WI
Presentation: Crowdsourcing Peace

Pasadena High School, Pasadena, CA
Presentation File: The NPT: A Successful Failed Experiment

Presque Isle High School, Presque Isle, ME
Presentation: The Bridge to Nonproliferation

Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA
Presentation: The Three Pillars of the NPDT

Japanese schools:

Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School, Hiroshima
Presentation:Imagine You are Next

Yasuda Girls High School, Hiroshima
Presentation: Raising the Awareness of Citizens

Kwassui High School, Nagasaki
Presentation: The Role of Youth in the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

Yokohama Senior High School of International Studies, Kanagawa
Presentation: Education Builds a Nuclear-Free World

Kaisei High School, Tokyo
Presentation: 70: Our Responsibility and Hope for the Future 

Russian schools:

Gymnasium No 41, Novouralsk
Presentation: Listen to the Whisper of Children

Gymnasium No 164, Zelenogorsk
Presentation: Preconditions and Obstacles for Banning Nuclear Weapons

Keynote and Other Speeches

Keynote Speech

Embassy Speech


Choate Rosemary Hall, Walingford, CT

Presentation File

Critical Issues Forum - Choate

Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA

Presentation File

CIF - Cushing

Harker School, San Jose, CA

Presentation File


Rock University High School, Janesville, WI

Presentation File


Pasadena High School, Pasadena, CA

Presentation File


Presque Isle High School, Presque Isle, ME

Presentation File


Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA

Presentation File



Japanese schools:

Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School, Hiroshima

Presentation File


Yasuda Girls High School, Hiroshima

Presentation File: Coming Soon

Kwassui High School, Nagasaki

Presentation File

nagasaki kwa

Yokohama Senior High School of International Studies, Kanagawa

Presentation File


Kaisei High School, Tokyo

Presentation File

kaisei paint


Russian schools:

Gymnasium No. 41, Novouralsk

Presentation File


Gymnasium No. 164, Zelenogorsk



Keynote and Other Speeches

2012 Student Spring Conference Report in Vienna

CIF Report: High School Students Present on
Nuclear Safety and Security in Vienna

View the 2012 Conference Photos


Although, many believe that high school students are too young to be engaged in issues related to nuclear safety, security, nonproliferation and disarmament, this type of conventional wisdom can often be a hindrance to engaging stakeholder in the most innovative and fresh ideas for tackling the world’s pressing challenges. As was evident at the 2012 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) conference, the world’s future leaders are ready to get involved in important discussions related to global peace and security.

The spring 2012 CIF conference was held in Vienna, Austria, as a side event of the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT PrepCom). This year’s conference was held on April 30 at the Vienna International Center (where the PrepCom occurred), and on May 1-2 at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano gave the keynote address, highlighting his enthusiasm in disarmament and nonproliferation education.

The CIF program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to promote nonproliferation education of high school students and teachers. This year’s conference was co-sponsored by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation (VCDNP), and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education and the NPT Review Process

Disarmament and nonproliferation education at all levels, including secondary education, was the subject of the Secretary General’s report on the UN Study on Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education, and also is highlighted in the Action Plan of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Final Document. The co-sponsors of the CIF conference hoped that by providing high school students with an opportunity to observe part of the 2012 NPT PrepCom and facilitating their interaction with senior diplomats and officials from international organizations, the CIF event would serve as a concrete example of how education can promote nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

Since the Austrian government and CNS opened the VCDNP in February 2011, the VCDNP has been conducting numerous nonproliferation and disarmament education activities in cooperation with the Austrian MFA. In conjunction with this development, CNS and the Austrian MFA together with the VCDNP decided to conduct this year’s CIF spring conference as a side event of the NPT PrepCom.

Overview of the 2012 Program

The annual cycle of the CIF program started with the teachers training workshop held in December in Monterey. Based on the education curriculum developed by CNS on this year’s topic, “Nuclear Safety and Security,” students with guidance from their teachers, worked diligently on their projects and submitted two papers in preparation for the conference.

Students selected from five US high schools and five from Russia’s closed nuclear cities as well as one school from Bosnia and Herzegovina participated in the final conference in Vienna. In addition 10 students from the Austrian Red Cross High School and several students from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna joined the conference as observers.

While many youth delegations from civil society participated in the NPT PrepCom, CIF high school students were the youngest group among them. Since high school students are not generally allowed to participate in the NPT related meetings, they were granted a special exception to the age limit for participation in the NPT PrepCom.

The students worked very hard to investigate formidable challenges related to the issues of nuclear safety and security, which have major impact on global peace and security. These issues are not new, but the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident reawakened the world to the fact that while the probability of nuclear accidents or attacks may be low, should they occur, the potential consequences are enormous.

CIF Conference Special Session at VIC

During the session held at the Vienna International Center (VIC) on April 30 as a side event of the NPT PrepCom, IAEA Director General Mr. Yukiya Amano gave a keynote address. Mr. Amano began his talk by mentioning why he became interested in nonproliferation and disarmament issues. He encouraged the young people in the audience to pursue their goals and dreams, and find something they can be passionate about. He also engaged students during the question and answer portion of his talk. High school students enthusiastically asked many substantive questions ranging from current proliferation challenges, such as the nuclear issues in North Korea and Iran, to youth involvement in the NPT Review Process.
High school students from Franklin High School in California, and Gymasia 164 in Zelenogorsk, Russia presented in front of delegations to the NPT PrepCom. These two schools worked together remotely, communicating via email and Skype to create a combined presentation. Their presentation focused on the attitudes of developed and developing nations towards nuclear safety and security. Using several country case studies, the students’ presentation was very insightful and convincing. Many participants who observed the presentation were very impressed by their high quality presentation.

The students’ presentation was followed by a testimonial of a Special Communicator for a World Without Nuclear Weapons designated by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Masahito Hirose, an atomic bombing survivor from Nagasaki shared his experience with the students and participants during this event. For most of CIF students it was their first time to listen to such a story directly. Inspired by his experience and continuing and ever growing passion for nuclear disarmament, many of these high school students expressed their determination to contribute to making progress toward a nuclear weapons free world.
Representing co-hosts, Japanese Ambassador Toshiro Ozawa, Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna, and Mr. Ronald Sturm from Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs congratulated students for their great work.

Sessions at the Diplomatic Academy

The CIF spring conference reconvened on May 1 at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna where all the participating schools presented their findings on nuclear safety and security. Students presentations ranged from global challenges of nuclear safety and security to issues related to their local nuclear power plants.

Student presentations were creative and innovative based on their thorough studies. Gymnasium #41 from Novouralsk, Russia’s presentation linked nuclear safety and security issues to the philosophical teachings of Emmanuel Kant. The students investigated past nuclear power plants accidents and threats of nuclear terrorism in an effort to answer overall philosophical questions posted by Kant.

Choate Rosemary Hall from Connecticut discussed nuclear safety and security issues using the Indian Point Nuclear Reactor facility in Buchanan, New York due to its proximity to their school. Their presentation included the history of this reactor including site selection and design, the company, accidents that have occurred at the plant, the plant’s upcoming recertification in 2013, the security of the plant, and the economic and political factors that have formed and will continue to form the basis for all discussions about this plant. They focused on possible changes in plant design and ways to address the safe storage of nuclear waste.

Santa Catalina School from Monterey participated in the CIF program for the first time. They discussed the intricate psychological sociological, economic and political effect of a cyber-attack on a nuclear facility through outlining past cyber-attacks.

School of Cosmonautics, Zheleznogorsk, Russia presented nuclear safety in Ukraine based on lessons learned from the Chernobyl accident. They discussedinternational efforts to enhance nuclear safety and focused on particular measures implemented in Ukraine in compliance with obligations under the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, the Convention on Assistance in the Case of Nuclear Accident and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste. Their presentation also covered the lessons Ukraine learned after the most serious accident in the history of the nuclear industry as well as after the Fukushima tragedy. Their presentation included an educational animated short video clip for pre-college school students to learn more about the impact of natural hazards on Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

This year’s CIF welcomed a new school from Bosnia and Herzegovina, United World College in Mostar. They presented their studies on challenges related to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and proliferation issues. In addition, the students introduced their schools’ unique plan to integrate nonproliferation issues in its cross disciplinary activities. Each school’s presentation was followed by a question and answer session where students actively engaged.

Graduate students specializing in nonproliferation at the Monterey Institute who participated in the NPT PrepCom also contributed to a successful CIF conference sharing their experience and expertise. Four CNS students, Karen Hogue, Jennifer Dahnke, Amanda Sayre, and Sophie Manoukian shared their motivation to study nonproliferation issues, and encouraged high school students to continue to study this important subject. Tamara Patton, a second year student currently interning at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva presented “Geospatial Tools for Nonproliferation and Disarmament Research” demonstrating how to construct accurate digital 3D models of buildings such as nuclear reactors, using aerial satellite imagery and shadow measurement techniques in Google SketchUp and Google earth. These graduate students presentations increased the high school students’ interest in nonproliferation issues particularly using technology to contribute to nonproliferation and disarmament research.

Ms. Olga Martin, Program Manager, Global Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program Nuclear Nonproliferation Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, representing the US Department of Energy, the major funder of the program, congratulated students on their excellent work, and discussed the importance of science in international security, while encouraging students to continue to study this important issue.
Representing the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michiru Nishida, who studied nonproliferation issues at the Monterey Institute, expressed his view on the importance of nonproliferation and disarmament education while introducing the Japanese government’s initiative in this sphere.

At the closing ceremony, Mr. Ronald Sturm from the Austrian MFA congratulated each participant for his or her hard work and the extraordinary great outcome of the conference.

Other Conference Activities

CIF students and teachers also had an opportunity to participate in a tour of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), including a presentation on the verification regime, visits to the radionuclide rooftop station and the International Data Center. On the final day of their stay, the students and teachers enjoyed cultural activities in Vienna visiting Schönbrunn Palace and enjoyed a guided tour at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (museum of fine arts).


This year’s NPT PrepCom testified that more and more state parties and civil society are becoming aware of the importance of disarmament and nonproliferation education to make progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons. Austrian Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, the Director for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in his statement ( highlighted the CIF spring conference as one example of Austria’s commitments to promote disarmament and nonproliferation education. Moreover, Austria and Japan co-submitted a working paper ( ) on disarmament and nonproliferation education again highlighted their co-sponsorship of the CIF Conference along with each country’s efforts to promote such education.

The CIF conference proved that in order to promote disarmament and nonproliferation education, it is essential for state parties and educational and research institutes to closely cooperate on this endeavor. CNS continues to make efforts to reach out to more schools in different countries, including in the Middle East and Asia, to promote disarmament and nonproliferation education.

Elucidating the importance that a program such as CIF has for the world’s future leaders, the concluding remarks of the students at the session held at the Vienna International Center in front of delegations to the NPT PrepCom noted:

We the students of the world, understand that we will one day be given the responsibility of leading and preserving our world, so we’ve found educating ourselves and participating in the disarmament and nonproliferation movements to be so incredibly important.

2011 Spring Conference Report

American, Chinese, and Russian
High School Students Discuss Solutions
to Nuclear Challenges in the Middle East

View the 2011 Conference Photos

The recent political upheaval in the Middle East and the March 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan have brought issues of nuclear safety, security, and proliferation to the top of the global agenda. For more than a decade, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), with support from the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, has encouraged high school students to explore these vital issues through its Critical Issues Forum program (CIF). This program aims to increase the awareness of nonproliferation and disarmament issues and enhance critical thinking skills in these students. The culmination of the 2010-2011 CIF program occurred on April 28 and 29, as students and teachers from China, Russia and around the United States gathered in Monterey to present the results of their research on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Sixty students and 27 teachers from 8 U.S. high schools, 10 schools in Russia’s closed nuclear cities attended along with students from Tsinghua High School in Beijing, marking the first time in the project’s history that a school from China has participated in the conference.

The 2010-2011 CIF program was kicked off in November 2010 with a curriculum development workshop for teachers where this year’s topic was introduced. The participating teachers followed the curriculum on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons in the Middle East with their own students. Throughout the semester, participating students, under the instruction of each school’s CIF teacher, undertook comprehensive coursework including topics such as nuclear technology, history of the Middle East, and proliferation concern in the region. Students also researched relevant multilateral nonproliferation and arms control regimes. The CIF program had students examine possible ways to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the region, including establishment of a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ), strengthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, enforcing sanctions, and military action.

CIF Participants Look for Solutions

The presentations at the conference approached complex regional issues from a variety of perspectives. First time participants from Tsinghua High School presented their views on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East in a very innovative way. Tsinghua students used Iran and Israel as case studies and incorporated cultural and economic factors to formulate their recommendations. They also used an analogy between scientific aspects of nuclear weapons and political dimensions of nuclear development of countries in the region. Maine’s Presque Isle High School marked its second year of participation in the program with a thoughtful examination of possible solutions to concerns about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. One of the veteran participants, Franklin High School from Elk Grove, California, reviewed issues surrounding nuclear development and conflicts in the Middle East using several medium from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Elk Grove’s presentation dramatically incorporated poetry, video, music, and soliloquy; the students gave a solid overview of nuclear program development in the region—including scientific, political, and historical aspects—while at the same time providing a creative and artistically entertaining presentation.

The timing of the conference marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. Therefore, participating students, particularly, Russian students incorporated the issue of nuclear safety to prevent future occurrence of such accidents. School No. 125 from Snezhinsk, Russia, focused their analysis on global concerns about nuclear activities in the Middle East given the possibility of an upsurge in civilian nuclear development in the region. The school presented on the civilian nuclear programs and plans of major countries in the region based on their comprehensive review of issues from technical, historical and economic perspectives. The students also highlighted the history of the discussion around a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone. The presentation from School No. 41 of Novouralsk, Russia used multimedia to highlight the history of nuclear programs in Egypt. The presentation posed the interesting question of what the future holds for nuclear issues in Egypt, particularly with the country’s recent change in leadership.

The School of Cosmonautics, a high school in Zheleznogorsk, Russia, focused on nuclear issues related to Syria, with an overview of the country’s history, reasons for developing nuclear power, and analysis on the possibility that Syria might develop nuclear weapons

Monterey Nonproliferation Students and Experts Share Perspectives

A panel discussion by Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) graduate students specializing in nonproliferation has become an important feature of the CIF conference. Each panelist shared his or her unique experience related to the decision to study nonproliferation issues. The graduate students encouraged CIF participants to work on important global issues and towards creating a safer world. Jessica Varnum, adjunct professor at MIIS and project manager at CNS, moderated the panel. She shared her experience from high school and college, how she came to be interested in this issue, and highlighted the importance of working for something meaningful so that each of us can contribute to a better future. She also emphasized the importance of science education in order to effectively involved oneself in the policy making process. Dawn Verdugo, a chemist teaching science for nonproliferation and terrorism studies while earning a Certificate in Nonproliferation studies, shared her experience working on the technical aspects of nonproliferation. CIF high school students actively engaged the panelists in dialogue during the question and answer session.

Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, CNS research associate and Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty project manager, gave the keynote address at the conference. In her speech, “Nuclear Proliferation and the Middle East, Predicting the Unpredictable?” she shared her analysis on nuclear proliferation challenges in the region. A lively question and answer session followed, with the students asking many stimulating and provocative questions.

CIF Students’ Gain Knowledge, Critical Thinking Experience

All the high school students participating in CIF worked hard to master knowledge on this daunting topic over the past semester. They gave high quality presentations of their research and analysis and showed clear enthusiasm for the study of nonproliferation issues. Before attending the spring conference, students also completed a written assignment on the topic based on the curriculum. Through this process, students were able to engage in important research and educational activities including brainstorming, evaluation of content, critical thinking, synthesis of information, and academic writing. Most students found the CIF program critical in improving their understanding of nuclear nonproliferation issues and the connection with and concerns of other people and nations; they also generally agreed that participating in CIF has improved their writing and analytical skills. Students also were able to become acquainted with fellow participants from around the United States, Russia and China and build friendships that will contribute to better understanding across cultures.

2010 Spring Conference Presentations

Introduction by Dr. William Potter

Franklin High School-Elk Grove, CA

Gymnasium 41 – Novouralsk, Sverdlovsk region, Russia

Ganesha High School – Pomona, CA

Lyceum – Lesnoy, Sverdlovsk region, Russia

2010 Current Students and Recent Graduates

Redwood Christian High School – San Lorenzo, CA

Choate Rosemary Hall – Wallingford, CT

Orinda Academy – Orinda, CA

School 125 – Snezhinsk, Chelyabinsk region, Russia

Presque Isle High School – Presque Isle, Maine

School 216 Didakt – Zarechny, Sverdlovsk region, Russia

Lyceum 39 – Ozersk, Russia

School of Cosmonautics – Zheleznogorsk, Russia

La Puente High School – La Puente, CA

Severskaya Gymnasium – Seversk, Russia

Buena Vista High School – Imperial, TX

Linguistic Gymnasium #164 – Zelenogorsk, Russia

Highland High School – Air Force Junior ROTC – Palmdale, CA

Gymnasium #2 – Sarov, Russia

Janesville Academy of International Studies – Janesville, WI

2008-2009 Student Conference

A World Free of Nuclear Weapons For the Next Generation:
U.S., Russian High School Students Present Research On Nuclear Disarmament

View the 2008-2009 Student Conference Photos

This year’s Critical Issues Forum (CIF) spring conference, which was held April 23-24, 2009 in Monterey, witnessed remarkably successful results. Many participants and CIF project members agreed that the content of student presentations continues to improve every year. The conference also marked the largest number of participants in the history of the Critical Issues Forum Program. More than 50 students and over 20 teachers from 10 U.S. high schools and 10 schools in Russia’s closed nuclear cities participated in the conference. In addition, a dozen of guests and observers attended the event. The participating high schools presented their research on “Nuclear Disarmament: Challenges, Opportunities, and Next Steps” they conducted throughout the semester. The conference and interviews with participants were featured in the April 24th Monterey County Herald article.

The CIF program has long been one of the flagship nonproliferation and disarmament education programs at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). The conference culminated a semester-long program designed to increase students’ awareness of nonproliferation and disarmament issues and enhance critical thinking skills.

The 2008-2009 CIF program started with the winter teachers curriculum development workshop where the curriculum for this year’s topic was introduced. The participating teachers took what they learned at the workshop back to their classrooms, and followed the curriculum on nuclear disarmament with their own students. For the past several months, participating students, under the instruction of each school’s CIF teacher, studied nuclear disarmament issues from various aspects: an overview of the current nuclear weapons status in the world; the history of nuclear weapons development; the basics of nuclear weapons technology; U.S.-Russia bilateral arms control and disarmament efforts; multilateral arms control and nuclear disarmament; and the role of civil society in nuclear disarmament. Students also developed their own ideas for ways to reduce the nuclear threat.

At the spring conference, students demonstrated a keen interest in the topic and were very creative in presenting the results of their research. Presentations included student-produced movies, a Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference simulation, skits revolving around nuclear weapons history, current events in nuclear development, and other interactive activities.

With a still-lingering excitement of the President Obama’s speech on April 5th in Prague calling for a world without nuclear weapons, many of students’ presentations at the conference featured recent developments in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation issues. In particular, students from both Russia and the United States presented analysis and prospects of the next steps for U.S.-Russia nuclear weapons reductions.

Students’ presentations took various approaches to discuss nuclear disarmament issues. One of Russian high schools, Linguistic Gymnasia #164 from Zelenogorsk, directed by a CIF veteran teacher, Nelli Porseva, presented short movie featuring past NPT review conferences. With some humor, the movie highlighted shortcomings and challenges of the NPT review process, winning tremendous applause and inviting cheerful laughter from the audience. At the same time, it demonstrated the in-depth analysis and research carried out by the students. In addition to looking back at the past review conferences, the Zelenogorsk students also presented a prognosis for the upcoming 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The experience of preparation for the presentation and the conference itself were, as the Zelenogorsk students commented, very valuable and significantly enhanced their understanding on the issues of nuclear disarmament. Delivering presentations in English, which is not their mother tongue, at this international conference was challenging, but the students shared their excitement of the sense of achievement.

Gymnasia #41 from Novouralsk captivated the audience with its insightful, well researched, and effective presentation. It contained numerous aphorisms from historical figures analyzing significant events surrounding nuclear weapons development. The presentation thoroughly covered nuclear weapons-related events since the dawn of the nuclear age to the most recent development including regional conflicts in Northeast Asia, the Middle East, and South Asia. The presentation also brought their classmates’ message and discussions which were filmed back in Novouralsk to the conference.

Evgenia Lapshina, a student from Lyceum in Lesnoy, concluded her presentation on “the Role of Personality in the Nuclear Age” with her own powerful thoughts, stating that the CIF project has changed her vision of the world and to the dangers of the nuclear age:

“We must fight ignorance with education, apathy with direction, and despair with hope. We owe this to ourselves and to our future children. This is our challenge. It is the challenge of our time and of our generation. All we need to do is to take a first step. Without doubt, a first step will lead to a second, and we will be on our way. My first step has been participation in this conference.”

Many schools highlighted the effects of the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and its impact on the nuclear disarmament movement in many different countries. Short video clip of a testimony by Ms. Shigeko Sasamori, Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) and peace activist was included in the program of the conference. Ms. Sasamori was originally scheduled to attend the conference as a guest speaker. Unfortunately, due to a health problem, she could not travel to Monterey. Nevertheless, her message to young people for a world free of nuclear weapons imbued students’ hearts at the conference with hope and passion for nuclear disarmament.

The students from Redwood Christian High School from San Lorenzo, CA, in an attempt to further understand the cultural implication of nuclear policies, used Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations to examine the intrinsic differences between cultures. In their well analyzed presentation, these students focused on the difference in the perspectives of different cultures, and how these different perspectives can affect countries’ nuclear policy and the nonproliferation regime.

One of the first-time participants, Janesville Academy of International Studies in Wisconsin, incorporated several formats into their presentation, including an original video clip, an NPT Review Conference simulation, and students’ artwork on nuclear disarmament. Another first-time participating school, University of Hawaii Laboratory High School, focused on the nuclear testing that took place on the Marshall Islands, and its long-lasting affect to both environment and living beings. Even today, many islanders continue to seek medical help in Hawaii and thousands have migrated to the United States seeking a life far away from the destruction caused by nuclear testing. Several schools’ presentations included interactive activities, such as a nuclear disarmament quiz, arms control treaty negotiation simulation, and a contest to design the best T-shirt on nuclear nonproliferation topics.

The conference also featured a distinguished keynote speaker—Dr. Patricia Lewis, Deputy Director and Scientist-in-Residence at the CNS, and former director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). In her speech “Passing the Nuclear Baton: Nuclear Disarmament and the Next Generation” Dr. Lewis challenged the students to become responsible and engaged citizens and expressed hope that their generation could pave the path toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

In addition to the high school students presentations, Monterey Institute students specializing in nonproliferation and recent graduates of MIIS shared their stories and experiences on choosing their career paths, studying nonproliferation issues, and working at CNS. They called on CIF high school students to pursue their dreams. Jessica Varnum, who graduated in spring 2008 with a specialization in nonproliferation studies and currently works as research associate at CNS emphasized the importance of studying this vital issue and encouraged the high school students to continue studying nonproliferation and disarmament issues while making efforts to improve their writing skills. Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, also a recent graduate and now research associate at the Center, gave the high school students a tip on personal growth: be open to opportunities and do not be afraid to take challenges. She also emphasized the importance of studying foreign languages. During the conference, the Russian students and American students also took advantage of opportunities for cultural exchange, building long-lasting friendships.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of CNS. Over the past two decades, CNS has dedicated itself to training the next generation of nonproliferation specialists and raising global public awareness. The CIF program, which is in its twelfth year, has been an integral part of CNS’s educational effort and served as an important outreach program.

This year’s CIF topic could not be more appropriate given the increasing momentum and renewed efforts by civil society, as well as many national and international leaders to create a nuclear free world. A world free of nuclear weapons proposed by many eminent leaders, including President Obama, can only be realized if the growing disarmament movement is inherited and implemented by the next generation of leaders. One of the students eloquently expressed the significant mission of students who participated in the conference: “Now we are just teenagers but a few years will pass and some of us will become scientists, or inventors, or politicians…who knows, maybe there is a future president among us! Each of us can be as powerful as anyone who ever lived. It is up to us to change the world.”

Funding for this year’s Critical Issues Forum is provided by U.S. Department of Energy
and the Ford Foundation.

2011-2012 Teachers’ Lectures and Presentations

Miles Pomper, Nuclear Renaissance lecture video

Miles Pomper, Nuclear Terrorism and Nuclear Security lecture video

Karen Hogue, Nuclear Energy overview lecture

Patricia Lewis, Connection between nuclear safety and security, nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation

Margarita Sevcik, Deputy Director of the CNS Education Program,
lecture focused on nuclear and radiological security in former Soviet Countries:


CIF 2014 Spring Conference Report

Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education Forum Brings Japanese, Russian and American High School Students Together to Address Nuclear Issues

Masako Toki

April 17, 2014

Students and teachers from Japan and Russia joined their peers from the U.S. at the 2014 spring conference of the Critical Issues Forum project – a nonproliferation and disarmament educational outreach project for high school students – convened by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies on April 4th and 5th at Santa Catalina School in Monterey.

CIF Spring Conference Participants

CIF Spring Conference Participants

CIF 2014 photo galleries
Final Presentations

At the Critical Issues Forum (CIF) conference, students from five U.S. high schools in different states (California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin), four Russian high schools in closed nuclear cities (Lesnoy, Novouralsk, Ozersk and Zelenogorsk), and six Japanese schools from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kanagawa and Tokyo presented their findings on the topic “Nuclear Nonproliferation: Global Opportunities and Regional Challenges.” The CIF program is managed by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute.

Every year, the CIF project provides opportunities for high school students to address one of the world’s most pressing problems.  This year, the CIF project has challenged participants to study the relationship between regional security and international nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament issues. Students identified nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament challenges, evaluated what progress has been made, and envisaged what must be done to make further progress in both areas.

Students from Cushing Academy Discuss Nuclear Challenges in South Asia

Students from Cushing Academy Discuss Nuclear Challenges in South Asia

The spring conference is the culmination of the semester-long CIF project that begins with a teacher training workshop. This academic year’s teacher workshop was held in December 2013 using an online conference tool. For the spring conference, all the CIF students completed mini-project 1 and prepared for the spring conference presentations under the guidance of CIF teachers.

Last year, CIF started engaging Japanese students in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities devastated by atomic bombs in August 1945. This year, Japanese participation expanded to Tokyo and Kanagawa, in the eastern part of Japan. Professor Nobumasa Akiyama of Hitotsubashi University, who is one of the leading experts in the field of nonproliferation and disarmament in Japan, joined the CIF conference as a chair of the CIF-Japan steering committee. In addition, one of the high school students from Hiroshima has been appointed as a “Youth Special Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons” as part of a project launched by the Japanese government last year to convey the importance of nuclear disarmament to the world.

Chiho Kosakura, Youth Special Communicator for a   World Free of Nuclear Weapons Share Her Experience

Chiho Kosakura, Youth Special Communicator for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons Share Her Experience

Students Interact with each other during the Conference

Students Interact with each other during the Conference

Students’ presentations:

All participating students presented and exchanged their findings on their chosen topic in a creative and innovative way, followed by an open discussion centered on a question and answer session with their peers and teachers.

Many schools focused on nonproliferation challenges in the Middle East, such as Iran’s nuclear problem, tensions between Israel and Arab nations surrounding nuclear issues, and a Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  Some schools examined the nuclear weapons rivalries between India and Pakistan in South Asia. Two of the Japanese schools investigated the volatile security situation in Northeast Asia that has been exacerbated by North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, and the recent uneasy relationship between Japan and its neighboring countries.  In addition to these regional foci, some schools presented US-Russia arms control agreements and the future prospects of bilateral negotiation toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

Participants from Kwassui High School, Nagasaki, Present Their Studies on Northeast Asia Nuclear Situation

Students from Kwassui High School, Nagasaki, Present Their Studies on Northeast Asia Nuclear Situation

The CIF project is designed to develop critical thinking skills and to engage students and teachers around issues related to international peace and security. Students were also engaged in interactive and cross-cultural activities during the conference and had the chance to interact with graduate students studying nuclear disarmament issues in the Institute’s Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program.

The CIF conference also welcomed Norwegian Consul General in San Francisco Hilde Janne Skorpen as a keynote speaker. She spoke about the Humanitarian Impact of the Use of Nuclear Weapons.  This issue has been drawing increasingly attention recently, and many CIF students also mentioned this issue in their presentations. Norway is one of the leading countries in this field and hosted the first conference on humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Oslo, in March 2013.  As a closing keynote address, Professor Nobumasa Akiyama encouraged all the students to be innovative and creative in thinking about a world free of nuclear weapons.

Norwegian Consul General Hilde Skorpen Discusses Humanitarian Aspects of Nuclear Disarmament

Norwegian Consul General Hilde Skorpen Discusses Humanitarian Aspects of Nuclear Disarmament

Professor Nobu Akiyama Encourages CIF Students to be Innovative and Creative

Professor Nobu Akiyama Encourages CIF Students to be Innovative and Creative

The CIF project team sincerely hopes that these young leaders for the next generation will be the driving force to accomplish the goals of a world without nuclear weapons. We believe that the CIF project exemplified how education can promote nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

Santa Catalina Students Present Their Solution on Middle East Nuclear Weapons

Santa Catalina Students Present Their Solution on Middle East Nuclear Weapons

This year’s CIF program is funded by the United States-Japan Foundation, a New York–based organization supporting activities to deepen friendship and understanding between Americans and Japanese, and the Tokyo Club, Japan’s oldest and most prestigious gentlemen’s club. The CIF program also receives support from the Chapman Foundation for students in Monterey. For more information on the CIF program, please visit the CIF website at, and view this short video.

Students from Novouralsk, Russia at the Award Ceremony

Students from Novouralsk, Russia at the Award Ceremony

Students from Yasuda Girls High School Enjoy Santa Catalina School Campus

Students from Yasuda Girls High School Enjoy Santa Catalina School Campus

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