During a special assembly on Oct. 19, upper school students heard from three representatives of The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Based at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, CNS aims to prevent weapons of mass destruction from spreading by educating young people on issues of nonproliferation.
At the beginning of the assembly, Diana Nichols, former head of school and member of the Harker Board of Trustees, announced a new partnership with CNS and introduced CNS researcher and project manager Masako Toki. After giving a brief rundown of CNS and its goals, Toki told students about the center’s Critical Issues Forum (CIF), a program that enables high school students from around the world to come together to discuss and present research on nonproliferation topics. Next year’s CIF Student Conference will be held in Hiroshima, Japan, where the first of two atomic bombs was dropped in 1945 to hasten the end of World War II.
Another speaker was Tom Greg, a CNS graduate and researcher who served in the U.S. Navy on a nuclear submarine and held a crucial role in the decision to launch nuclear missiles. He recounted the story of his visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum, which he called “one of the most intense experiences of my life.” He later decided to devote his graduate studies to researching nuclear nonproliferation.
The final speaker was Avner Cohen, senior fellow and professor at CNS, who spoke about the history of the nuclear age, including the discovery of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, which had been hidden for many years. Cohen showed a video that recapped the advent of nuclear weapons, from the earliest threat of their potential use by the Nazis to the arms race that helped drive the Cold War.
Recently, a group of Harker students began working with computer science department chair Eric Nelson on nonproliferation studies. The students plan to research a topic yet to be chosen and present at the conference in Hiroshima.
“I see a future of going into politics or political science, and I’m also on the debate team, so it seemed like a topic that would be of interest to me,” said Zarek Drozda, grade 11, one of the students working with Nelson. “Certainly I’ve heard about nuclear problems through debate and such, so I think kind of doing debate awakened me to these issues and I found an interest in it.”
“We’re just every week trying to find different topics to cover that will take us in the right direction once the project gets started,” said Jeton Gutierrez-Bujari, grade 12, who discovered the topic through his interest in physics. “I’m really interested in physics and so I’ve been talking to Dr. Nelson about just nuclear weapons in general for the past year or so. He brought to my attention this project and I liked the politics part of it as well.”