Inspiring Future Leaders in CIF

November 3, 2020
Masako Toki

On October 23, 2020, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) hosted the first virtual Speaker Series event for the 2020–21 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) featuring Lovely Umayam, the founder of As the first event during the first all-virtual CIF, the format allowed the project to expand the network for disarmament education beyond the usually limited number of participants. More than 100 students and teachers from the United States, Japan, Russia, and Nigeria logged on to hear about Bombshelltoe’s disarmament and nonproliferation education work.

Watch the Entire Event

Ms. Umayam, an alumna of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (NPTS ’17), is a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines—the first to go to college from her family—and is now a globally recognized nuclear disarmament expert. Her talk inspired many CIF high school students who are going through challenges related to the pandemic in various ways.

Inspiring Stories

CIF alumna Kimberly Nunez opened the event by sharing her views on how the CIF project heightened her awareness of the nuclear challenge, and the importance of the role of youth in addressing it. As a student at Dr. Olga Mohan High School in Los Angeles, her participation in CIF in 2016 was a pivotal experience, and today she is a junior at Georgetown University majoring in government with a concentration on international affairs.

Japanese students at desks wearing dust masks

After an introduction by her former professor, CNS Director Dr. William Potter, Lovely shared how she became involved in the field and her commitment to bringing diverse perspectives to this work. In 2013, after receiving the US State Department Arms Control Verification Award, Lovely founded the Bombshelltoe project, to demystify technical concepts used in the nuclear policy field. Today, it includes the work of nuclear engineers, activists, historians, artists, designers, and other experts “to explore how nuclear issues touch our everyday lives and intersect with urgent social issues.” In particular, Lovely discussed two of her most recent creative collaborations under Bombshelltoe: “Illuminating Radioactivity” and “Atomic Sublime.”

The collaborative, cross-disciplinary spirit of Bombshelltoe is a lesson reflected in our current global Covid-19 crisis, which similarly demands international cooperation, as does the problem of nuclear threats.

Forging Ahead

Although the global pandemic has required us to conduct all CIF project activities virtually, we have not let it impede our progress in providing opportunities for bright young minds to continue to engage on this important global issue.

Visit the website for more information about the Critical Issues Forum.

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