US and Russian High School Teachers Discuss Nuclear Disarmament

Masako Toki
January 6, 2009

Critical Issues Forum (CIF) Teacher Development Workshop

Twenty teachers from US and Russian high schools launched the 2008-2009 Critical Issues Forum (CIF) with the Teacher Development Workshop, which took place from December 4 to 6, 2008 at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in Monterey.

Teachers from high schools in California, Hawaii, Texas and Wisconsin attended, along with Russian teachers from the cities of Novouralsk and Zelenogorsk. Russian teachers will hold a parallel workshop in January in Novouralsk with the rest of the participating teachers from Russia’s closed nuclear cities: Lesnoy, Ozersk, Sarov, Seversk, Snezhinsk, Trekhgorniy, Zarechniy, and Zheleznogorsk.

The CIF program’s goal is consistent with the CNS mission to train the next generation of nonproliferation specialists and raise global public awareness on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) issues. High school students rarely have an opportunity to study nonproliferation and disarmament of WMD. The CIF program provides high school students with a precious opportunity to study international security and WMD issues, aiming to make an impact in securing a more peaceful world in the future.

Topic: Nuclear Disarmament: Challenges, Opportunities and Next Steps

Participants in the 2008 CIF Teachers Workshop

2008 participants

The topic is remarkably timely given the increasing momentum in nuclear disarmament debates in the United States and several other countries.

The initiative taken by four preeminent former high-ranking U.S. officials—George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn—revitalized the momentum for nuclear disarmament, placing the issue on the mainstream policy agenda. Other countries, leaders, and civil society started voicing support for disarmament efforts, and this movement is significantly growing worldwide.

CNS staff and experienced high school teachers collaborated to develop the curriculum and teaching materials for this year’s CIF topic, and introduced them at the workshop.

Dr. Patricia Lewis, CNS deputy director

Dr. Patricia Lewis, CNS deputy director, on multilateral nonproliferation

Lectures & Panel Discussions

The workshop consisted of three components:

  • Lectures by CNS experts & guest speaker
  • Instruction on how to conduct the CIF program with students
  • Teacher-led discussion on improvements

Experts from CNS, the Graduate School of International Policy Studies of the Monterey Institute, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) gave lectures sharing their expertise.

The lectures included an overview of the current nuclear weapons status in the world, the basics of nuclear weapons technology, US-Russia bilateral arms control and disarmament efforts, multilateral arms control and nuclear disarmament, and roles of civil society in nuclear disarmament. A panel discussion with three speakers, each representing a different stance on nuclear weapons policy, also stimulated participants to examine the intricacies of the nuclear weapons issue.

Teachers Prepare for the 2009 Student Conference

The participating teachers in the workshop will take what they have learned from the content lectures and each other to work with their students during the next semester on the topic of nuclear disarmament. The teachers and students will return to Monterey in April 2009 to present their findings at the cross-cultural student-teacher conference, the highlight of the year-long program.


teachers around a table

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