The Bomb in College Classrooms

October 23, 2019
Sarah Bidgood

The following is an excerpt of an article published on

I spend my days looking for ways to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and devising recommendations for how we can do this more effectively. It’s certainly one of the most difficult moments for this work in recent memory. Between the crisis in U.S.-Russia relations, the unraveling of arms control and the growing potential for nuclear conflict around the world, most of us have been working overtime to keep up. And there’s no end in sight.

In fact, so much work must be done, and the stakes for failure are so high, that it simply won’t be possible to do it all alone. We need more creative ideas, more questioning minds and more outspoken voices to help prevent a global catastrophe. Instead, my field is facing a personnel crisis that is making us less effective at grappling with these and other international security challenges.

By 2023, for example, nearly 40 percent of the employees at the National Nuclear Security Administration will be eligible to retire. In 2029, the same will be true for 80 percent of the U.S. State Department’s senior civil servants. The number of people taking the foreign service exam is at its lowest point in years.

Against this backdrop, we should be concerned that most current college students will graduate without any formal introduction to weapons of mass destruction and their means of control.


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