Stevens and the Federation of American Scientists host Workshop to Enhance Fundamental Education about Nuclear Issues

11/21/2013

Since the Cold War ended, nuclear issues education has taken a back seat to other urgent global challenges. But nuclear weapons still exist, and in certain nations, stockpiles are even being upgraded and modernized.

In fact, recent concerns brought on by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Iranian nuclear talks and threats by the North Korean military have highlighted a critical need for the general public and policy makers to understand the fundamentals and inherent implications of nuclear energy, weapons and terrorist threats.

Drawing on its expertise in maritime security, technology policy, the physical sciences and related fields, Stevens is taking steps to educate students, researchers and the public about the present threat of nuclear catastrophe.

Recently, Stevens hosted a Workshop on Nuclear Education Issues, held in collaboration with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a think tank focused on reducing nuclear threats, and sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The workshop brought together a diverse group of academics, scientists, engineers, policy makers and journalists to develop pedagogy to give mainstream professionals a background in nuclear issues. It was organized by Dr. Charles Ferguson, president of the FAS, Dr. Ed Friedman, emeritus professor of technology management at Stevens, and Dr. Julie Pullen, director of the Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security national research center of excellence led by Stevens. Workshop attendees included current and former representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. State Department, American Institute of Physics, and from academic institutions including U.C. Berkley, Columbia, Washington and Lee, Alma, Drexel and Stevens. 

The workshop included a review and demonstration of nuclear education resources, including the NukeMap created by Dr. Alex Wellerstein of the American Institute of Physics.  The NukeMap is an interactive computer model that allows end-users to hypothetically detonate a range of nuclear bombs and compare the scale of the consequences. 

The Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues was also showcased as an invaluable general public resource for archived writings, publications and research studies on nuclear issues.  The digital library, the most comprehensive of its kind, was developed by Dr. Frank Settle, professor of chemistry at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

Outcomes from the workshop included consensus on the need to better educate students and the general public on nuclear issues to help strengthen national security, reduce the dangers of use of nuclear weapons and to provide balanced and unbiased dialogue about nuclear energy. Several avenues of future collaboration were also identified.

"Further targeted work with key partners such as the Council on Independent Colleges (CIC), reaching over 600 colleges, is planned, along with a web-based resource for curriculum that can be mined by professors to develop courses in these areas," said Pullen.

For its part, Stevens will offer a course entitled “Nuclear Terrorism and Security” in the spring 2014 semester. The multidisciplinary course, to be co-taught by Friedman and Pullen, will be delivered within a maritime security perspective and will be tailored to undergraduate and graduate level students.

To learn more about the Nuclear Issues Education collaboration and how you can become involved, please visit contact Ed Friedman at Edward.Friedman@stevens.edu.