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The Kissinger Center Convenes Nuclear Scholars to Identify and Discuss Questions in Nuclear Field

February 2, 2019
As part of the Nuclear Studies Research Initiative (NSRI), the Kissinger Center for Global Affairs hosted 13 scholars to workshop ideas and perspectives on changes in the major themes surfacing in current nuclear scholarship. Scholars in attendance represented a variety of disciplines ranging from physics and engineering to history and political science and included scholars with varying levels of experience from promising post-doctoral fellows to tenured professors. Sessions focused on strengthening the NSRI initiative through building an impactful international conference experience that balances ideas with activity, engages policymakers and addresses the most pressing ‘big questions’ in the field. The workshop also included specific sessions on nuclear weapons, grand strategy and world order, and combining technical and political perspectives. 
Scholars debated whether and how the field of nuclear studies is removed from other questions surrounding grand strategy and world order.  They also discussed how to fold technical perspectives into policy conversations, and the merits and drawbacks to approaches that focus on American versus global experiences with nuclear weapons and statecraft. The workshop brought together new and returning guests to discuss creative approaches to managing the NSRI initiative including: (a) engaging a more global community of scholars and policymakers; (a) including scholars from fields like nuclear science, engineering and law;  (c) overcoming the common tendency in nuclear studies to analyze nuclear weapons in isolation from domestic and international politics; and (d) understanding states’ decisions about nuclear weapons and how these decisions affect international relations.
The cross-disciplinary group of experts who attended included: Fiona Cunningham, Professor at The George Washington University; Bethany Goldblum, Research Faculty in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, Director of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium and Founder and Director of the Nuclear Policy Working Group; Brendan Green, Professor at the University of Cincinnati; Janne Nolan, Professor at The George Washington University; Julia MacDonald, Professor at the University of Denver;, Joshua Rovner, Professor at American University; Mareena Robinson Snowden, former Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Senior Engineer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; Nicholas Miller, Professor at Dartmouth; Todd Sescher, Professor at the University of Virginia; Tristan Volpe, Professor at the Naval Post Graduate School; Vipin Narang, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; in addition to the grant’s PI, Francis Gavin, and its co-leader and consultant, Jane Vaynman, Professor at Temple University.
The diverse perspectives and disciplines represented at the NSRI February workshop allowed attendees to partake in a fruitful planning session that resulted in the initiative’s 2019 conference, Rethinking the Nuclear Perspectives from Europe and America.
The NSRI Initiative is sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the MacArthur Foundation. You can learn more on our Nuclear Studies Research Initiative page.  Please visit our webpage for recent updates on calls for papers and more information on our upcoming conferences.