Critical Issues Forum 2019 in Monterey

March 22, 2019

Spring 2018 CIF

Spring 2018 CIF Participants | Click to view full-size

Local high school students and teachers from several Monterey County high schools will join peers from Japan and Russia at the March 29–30 Critical Issues Forum conference on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, hosted by the Middlebury Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS).

The annual conference offers students from local schools including Pacific Grove High School, Salinas Union High School District (Alisal HS, Everett Alvarez HS, North Salinas HS, Salinas HS), and York School in Monterey the opportunity to present the conclusions of their own research on nonproliferation and disarmament. This is the first year that Salinas Union High School District has participated, with each high school in the district sending students.

“Our goal is always for students who participate in the conference to return home with fresh perspectives and determination to make a difference,” says CIF Program Manager Masako Toki. “We hope that some of them will go on to enter the nonproliferation field and we believe that their experiences here in Monterey working with their peers from other countries will help to equip them for their journey ahead.”

In total, students from five Japanese high schools, three Russian high schools in closed nuclear cities, and 10 US high schools from four different states will participate, with each school’s delegation presenting their findings at the conference. Students will also hear from keynote speaker Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, an internationally recognized expert on North Korea’s nuclear program and director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at CNS. Dr. Mona Dreicer, deputy director of the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will serve as keynote speaker on the conference’s second day.

Mona Dreicer and Jeffrey Lewis

Mona Dreicer and Jeffrey Lewis

Students will present their studies on the topic of “Nuclear Risk Reduction: Crisis Prevention in a Time of International Turbulence.” Issues addressed may include the potential for a new arms race between the United States and Russia, uncertainty regarding Iran’s nuclear program, or prospects for ending North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The conference is the culmination of a semester-long program that is designed to develop high school students’ critical thinking skills and to engage students and teachers around issues related to international peace and security.

Participating students will also have the opportunity to interact with graduate students studying nuclear disarmament issues in the Middlebury Institute’s Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program.

This year’s Critical Issues Forum (CIF) conference is funded by the Saga Foundation and the Tom and Sarah Pattison Fund. For more information on the CIF program, please visit the CIF website.

Preliminary Schedule

  • What: Critical Issues Forum Students Spring Conference
  • When: March 29–30, 2019
  • Where: Irvine Auditorium
    Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
    499 Pierce St., Monterey, CA

Participating Schools

United States

  • Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT
  • Dr. Olga Mohan High School, Los Angeles, CA
  • The Harker School, San Jose, CA
  • International Polytechnic High School (iPoly), Pomona, CA
  • Pacific Grove High School, Pacific Grove, CA
  • Punahou School, Honolulu, HI
  • Rock University High School, Janesville, WI
  • Salinas Union High School District, Salinas, CA
    (Alisal HS, Everett Alvarez HS, North Salinas HS, Salinas HS)
  • York School, Monterey, CA


  • Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School, Hiroshima
  • Kwassui High School, Nagasaki
  • Kaisei High School, Tokyo
  • Kansai Soka Senior High School, Osaka
  • Soka Senior High School, Tokyo


  • Lyceum, Lesnoy
  • School № 41, Novouralsk
  • School № 164, Zelenogorsk
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