Interdisciplinary approaches to the problem of nuclear harm


A five-day workshop into the problem of nuclear harm sponsored by the O’Donnell Endowed Chair in Global Studies.





The world’s first nuclear weapons test—the first light of which captured here a mere .025 seconds after detonation—in the New Mexico desert, on July 16, 1945.
U.S. Department of Defense
A world empty of nuclear weapons eludes us. State-led progress on the road to nuclear abolition has historically been slow, in part because the politico-economic forces driving the modernisation programmes of nuclear weapons states continue unabated. What little hope there remains for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world must therefore arise out of global civil society. For this, traditional approaches involving trust- and capacity-building initiatives would be enhanced by the alternative insights and understandings about the problem of nuclear harm that can only be derived from the humanities, and in particular environmental philosophy, dialogue, ethics, and the creative arts. 

This O’Donnell Visiting Educators Program in the Nuclear Humanities—to be held September 24-28, 2016—enables participants to explore several such alternative pathways to nuclear disarmament, and to consider the possibility of creating one of their own. Geared towards students in the liberal arts the workshops are intended to supplement existing degree programmes in politics, philosophy, history, art, literature, economics, environmental humanities, religion, physics, film and media, gender, anthropology, non-Western thought, as well as race and ethnicity.

The program will take place over five days, with participation in the half-day field trip on Day 4 encouraged, but not expected. The session on Day 3 is open to the public, and commemorates the U.N. International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

The 2016 Nuclear Humanities intensive workshop was designed and delivered by N.A.J. Taylor, on the invitation of Shampa Biswas, Chair of the Politics Department and Paul Garrett Professor of Political Science at Whitman College. It was sponsored by an O’Donnell Endowed Chair in Global Studies grant.