December 12, 2022
Critical Issues Forum Teachers and Bread Loaf Teacher Network meeting to Discuss Disarmament and Nonproliferation Education at CNS in Monterey.
On December 3rd, 2022, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) hosted the Critical Issues Forum (CIF) Teachers Retreat. Instructors in attendance were long-term CIF teachers, new teachers who are interested in joining the CIF, and teachers from the Bread Loaf Teacher Network (BLTN).
Over the past two years, the CIF has conducted all events and activities online. The global pandemic required this change and while the online format brought challenges, the CIF was able to expand its outreach to diverse groups of teachers through online activities that resulted in new teachers joining virtual events. The CIF Teachers Retreat was a significant event for the project as it was the first in-person CIF event since the beginning of the global pandemic in early 2020.
The CIF aims to promote disarmament and nonproliferation education to high school students around the world, including those in the United States, Japan, and Russia while helping students develop critical thinking and cross-cultural communication skills. The goal of this weekend’s Teachers Retreat was to expand and solidify the disarmament and nonproliferation educator network in the United States.
Opportunity Brought by the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation
The collaboration between the CIF and the BTLN is made possible thanks to the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation (CT Collaborative).
Through the CT Collaborative, CIF project manager Masako Toki had a chance to meet the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English Director, Dr. Emily Bartels. Dr. Bartels introduced Masako to the BTLN Communication Director, Tom Mckenna, to discuss possible collaboration between the CIF and the BLTN. Such discussions led Masako to participate in the Conflict Transformation Conference for the BTLN Next Generation Leadership Network in the Navajo Nation in October.
Collaboration between the CIF and the BTLN is proving to be mutually beneficial as the BTLN provides an extensive network of teachers around the US, including teachers in the Navajo Nation. This relationship aids the CIF in its goal to expand its outreach to more diverse groups of teachers while instructors in the BTLN are able to learn more about nuclear disarmament issues and how they might get involved with this instruction. The CIF Teachers Retreat was an excellent step forward toward the goal of deepening the relationship between CIF and BLTN connections to expand the disarmament educator network.
Discussions and Lectures at the Teachers Retreat
During the Retreat, participating teachers had a chance to get an overview of global nuclear weapons, listen to presentations about recent nuclear disarmament challenges, and work through possible solutions to those challenges.
Mr. Jean du Preez, CNS Senior Program Manager for Education and Training, gave a lecture in which he highlighted the role educators can play in nuclear disarmament. In addition to the global nuclear overview and challenges to nuclear disarmament, Mr. du Preez introduced educational activities to the teachers that can grab the students’ attention.
Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, CNS Scientist- in-Residence, gave a brief overview of the destructive power of nuclear weapons as opposed to the capabilities of conventional weapons. He followed this overview with a discussion on the impacts of nuclear weapons from various scientific perspectives and an explanation of the environmental and human impacts of nuclear weapon tests.
Teachers discussed nuclear challenges from multiple perspectives and lenses, such as the intersection of nuclear disarmament and racial justice. Dr. Vincent Intondi, History Professor at the Montgomery College and the author of The African American against the Bomb, was an invited guest speaker who gave a powerful talk on how African Americans contributed to the nuclear disarmament movement and the omission of their contributions in historical accounts. He also highlighted how racial discrimination played a role in the decision-making process for using nuclear weapons against two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
During the lunch hour, Dr. William Potter, CNS Founding Director, discussed the origin of the CIF and the importance of introducing nonproliferation and disarmament education to high school students. He shared his efforts to do so despite initial resistance to this idea, as many experts perceived that nonproliferation and disarmament issues are too difficult for high school students to understand. In addition, Dr. Potter shared his experience as a Board Member on the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters for the United Nations Secretary General to promote disarmament and nonproliferation education. His initiative led to the adoption of the United Nations study on disarmament and non-proliferation education – Report of the Secretary-General at the 57th UN General Assembly in 2002.
Dr. Netta Avineri, Associate Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS), began the afternoon session with a lecture titled Intercultural Communication (ICC) for Social Change: Application to Nuclear Disarmament Education. She raised a number of key questions in her lecture: how can ICC approaches be mobilized for social change, conflict transformation, and nuclear disarmament education? What new approaches might be necessary to bring ICC to the work of social change, conflict transformation, and nuclear disarmament education? Dr. Avineri’s session was interactive and offered participants a chance to actively participate by sharing their perspectives.
Most of the afternoon session was dedicated to a discussion on how teachers can implement the CIF at each school to teach nuclear disarmament to high school students. Experienced CIF teachers shared their experience, advice, and activities that are unique to each school.
Long-term CIF teacher Andrew King is the Principal at the Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School in Los Angeles. Mr. King shared his school’s “Nuclear Free School” activities that included a youth disarmament conference in LA that his school organized in 2017. James Davidson is a veteran teacher from Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut who shared his school’s activities with the CIF while highlighting the increased interest in nuclear issues among his students. Stephanie Villarello from Rock University High School in Wisconsin explained how her school incorporates CIF in classroom activities.
Andrew King shares his CIF teacher’s experience
Shizuka Kuramitsu and Galina Salnikova are currently pursuing their master’s degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and are also CIF alumni who participated in the 2015 and 2016 CIF projects, respectively. They shared how the CIF contributed to their awareness and knowledge of nuclear disarmament issues and its impact on their career paths.
All participating teachers brought their diverse backgrounds, enriching experiences, and unique perspectives to the CIF Teachers Retreat. We were able to discuss nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation education from multiple perspectives and confirm how important it is to bring this education to high school students. It remains challenging to engage a wide range of high school students in disarmament discussions and activities but connecting nuclear issues with daily events can help introduce students to this important topic. In order to promote disarmament and nonproliferation education to high school students, it is essential to expand and solidify the network of likeminded teachers who are passionate about nuclear issues. The CIF strives to make progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons through nonproliferation and disarmament education.
- Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT
- Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School, LA, CA
- Window Rock High School, Fort Defiance, AZ, Navajo Nations
- Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School, Philadelphia, PA
- Jefferson County Public School District Louisville, KY
- Juneau Douglas High School, Juneau AK
- Stevenson School, Pebble Beach, CA
- York School, Monterey, CA
This year’s Critical Issues Forum is supported by the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation Fund, the Tom and Sarah Pattison Fund, the SAGA Foundation, Mr. Gregg Wolpert, and other private donors.