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If context is everything, then it would be difficult to come up with a more powerful example of the value and impact of immersive learning than this year’s Critical Issues Forum. Now in its 18th year, this April the program gathered students from high schools around the world for a conference on nuclear disarmament—in Hiroshima, Japan.

From April 2-4, students from the United States and Russia joined Japanese students at the conference, which took place as Japan was commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) cosponsored the conference as part of its annual Critical Issues Forum (CIF), in partnership with Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School and Hiroshima Prefecture and City.

The three-day conference included two-day student presentations summarizing their semester-long study of this year’s topic, “Nuclear Disarmament: A Humanitarian Approach.” This topic led many schools to investigate the effects of the use of nuclear weapons on both the environment and human beings.

The conference culminated with a public symposium at the Hiroshima International Conference Center, which included remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida, who is originally from Hiroshima. In his speech, Minister Kishida congratulated the sponsors and emphasized the importance of disarmament education for the younger generation. The conference received significant media attention in Japan, with NHK, Japan’s national TV station, broadcasting the public symposium live nationwide.

“I believe that this conference was a historic achievement in disarmament and nonproliferation education,” says CIF Program Manager Masako Toki MAIPS ‘00, “not only because dignitaries such as the foreign minister participated, or because it happened in Hiroshima, but because the students worked so hard to learn about the issues, and because many of them realized that they are the ones who will be responsible for achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.”

During their stay in Hiroshima, both teachers and students also visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and heard from an atomic bombing survivor. Find more information about the Critical issues Forum.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir