High school students and teachers from Japan, Russia, and the United States gathered for an international conference on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament here in Monterey on March 30–31—the Critical Issues Forum (CIF) conference. This annual event is hosted by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) as part of the center’s commitment to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament education.
High school students and teachers from Japan, Russia, and the United States gathered for an international conference on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament here in Monterey on March 30–31—the Critical Issues Forum (CIF) conference. This annual event is sponsored by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) as part of the center’s commitment to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament education.
For the past 21 years, the CIF conference has chosen challenging, timely, and relevant topics in the field of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament for participating high school student to study. This year’s topic, “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Achievements, Aspirations, and Challenges Ahead,” allowed participating students to explore one of the most challenging issues in the contemporary nuclear field: the fundamental difference between disarmament advocates and deterrence advocates.
Students also investigated the role of existing nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament treaties, including the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and these treaties’ relationship with the newly adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, commonly referred to as the Ban Treaty. The Russian, Japanese, and American students who presented their projects at the conference have been researching and studying nuclear weapons and the Ban Treaty for over a semester.
The conference featured opening remarks by CIF Project Manager Masako Toki, personal welcomes from CNS Founding Director Dr. William Potter and MIIS Dean Dr. Jeff Dayton-Johnson, and messages from United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. The students also heard from keynote speakers Jon Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group at Global Zero, and Susan Southard, lecturer and author of the book Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War.
The CIF conference offers a unique opportunity for high school students to present their semester-long research on topics related to nonproliferation and disarmament to their peers. Local host school Pacific Grove High School kicked off the student presentations, followed by students from Dr. Olga Mohan High School in Los Angeles, Choate Rosemary Hall from Connecticut, Kwassui High School from Nagasaki (the host school for the 2017 conference), Soka Senior High School from Tokyo, and School No. 41 in Novouralsk, Russia.
In addition to the guest speakers and student presentations, this year’s conference included two panel discussions, one featuring Institute students and CNS research assistants, as well as a variety of cross-cultural and educational activities in the Monterey community.
“The role of youth education in disarmament prepares future leaders with the tools to begin thinking creatively and innovatively about issues humanity has grappled with for decades,” said Critical Issues Forum Program Director Masako Toki. “Many students who participated in the CIF conference will take their experiences, knowledge, and idealism with them as they mature into young adults entering the nonproliferation field. Though many challenges remain ahead, building connections and cultivating international understanding can have a positive impact in these efforts.”
Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT
International Polytechnic High School (iPoly), Pomona, CA
Harker School, San Jose, CA
Dr. Olga Mohan High School, Los Angeles, CA
Pacific Grove High School, Pacific Grove, CA
Punahou School, Honolulu, HI
Rock University High School, Janesville, WI
Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School, Hiroshima
Kaisei High School
Kansai Soka Senior High School, Osaka
Kwassui High School, Nagasaki
Nagasaki Higashi High School
Soka Senior High School, Tokyo
Hiroshima University High School
School No 41, Novouralsk
School No 164, Zelenogorsk