Perspectives on Nuclear War and Peace Education

Perspectives on Nuclear War and Peace Education

Perspectives on Nuclear War and Peace Education

Perspectives on Nuclear War and Peace Education

Synopsis

Introduction Rationale and Prospects for Nuclear War Education Peace Education: Salvation or Curse? The Quest for Objectivity and Balance Psychosocial Dimensions of the Nuclear Threat Nuclear Courses in the Social Sciences Nuclear Courses in Humanities Nuclear Courses in Science and Technology Interdisciplinary Nuclear War Courses Special Topics for Nuclear War Courses Resources for Nuclear War Courses Public Opinion Surveys on Nuclear Issues

Excerpt

Courses and programs relating to nuclear war have proliferated on the nation's campuses perhaps even faster than the nuclear arsenals have proliferated. Like the arsenals, the proliferation in nuclear war courses has had a vertical dimension, occurring at all levels of education from elementary school through graduate school, as well as a horizontal dimension, including a broad range of subjects from the humanities to the hard sciences. At the university level, one can find courses as varied as "The Ethics of Nuclear Deterrence" and "Science, Technology, and the Nuclear Arms Race," as well as some interdisciplinary courses covering the whole gamut of nuclear issues. (See Table 1 for a partial listing of topics relevant to various academic disciplines.)

Because of its inherent interdisciplinary nature, nuclear war education can serve as an excellent vehicle to bring together university educators from across the spectrum of disciplines, either for a team teaching effort or for a conference to exchange ideas. One such gathering, the 1986 Conference on Nuclear War Education, sponsored by George Mason University, served as the impetus for this volume, most of whose authors attended that conference. This book, however, is not merely the proceedings of a conference. Rather, it is an organized collection of perspectives on nuclear war education as seen by both some of its leading practitioners and critics. On a nationwide basis, nuclear war education is probably offered at well over a hundred campuses ranging from two-year colleges to military service academies to elite research universities. (Collections of course syllabi for courses from schools across the nation can be obtained from such Washington, D.C.-based organizations as the Federation of American Scientists and the United Campuses Against Nuclear War.)

But what is nuclear war education? I suspect nuclear war education may mean very different things depending on one's political and academic orientation. For me, a physicist by training, nuclear war education naturally includes the physics of nuclear weapons and the effects of a nuclear war, as far as these can be known. But nuclear war education is, in my view, just as much about the U. S.-Soviet relationship and the political forces that drive the arms competition as it is about nuclear explosives. Some observers may wish to further broaden the field of study to encompass the causes of international conflict generally, finding that focusing on the nuclear issue is too confining. Terms used to describe this broader perspective range from "peace education," or "conflict studies," to "security studies." Indeed, a number of the authors in this collection would probably prefer one of these alternative labels. My own preference for the term "nuclear war education" reflects my interest in the specific nuclear aspects of the problem which faces humanity. the existence of nuclear weapons does pose some . . .

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