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Paul Beckwith on the failure of universities to address real world problems

1 May 21, I have often wondered how humanity, in our present day and age, can be facing total and utter catastrophe from abrupt climate system change, and still have the vast multitudes of citizens, governments, and nations not even want to recognize the grave dangers that we face. These are not long term risks, in fact we face the imminent complete loss of Arctic Sea Ice, enormous outbursts of methane gas, mass extinctions of our plants and animals, and global food shortages leading to deadly widespread famine within a decade. How is this possible? How can society be so stupid? Why am I cursed to recognize the imminent and complete collapse of our society?

Having been within the university system and academia for many years, I have been constantly puzzled as to why there is no sense of societal danger and risk of near term collapse. The Ivory Towers of Academia have been completely oblivious to the existential crisis, and has done absolutely nothing to educate the public to these risks. The university is essentially a knowledge-factory to push forward the boundaries of knowledge in a vast array of independently siloed fields, while it has completely lacked the wisdom to recognize let alone address the real world problems that are right in front of our face. As a result, with zero wisdom from our esteemed institutes of learning, our society is teetering on the brink of complete and utter collapse from abrupt climate system change. The best paper that I have read on this failure of our university system to address real world and imminent global problems was published two weeks ago and is called “How Universities Have Betrayed Reason and Humanity – And What’s to Be Done About It” by Nicolas Maxwell.

May 3, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Education, environment | Leave a comment

Nuclear education of state energy regulators

 

With the Department of Energy behind this –  can it really offer impartial education?

 

NARUC, DOE strike five-year deal to allow nuclear education of state energy regulators, Daily Energy Insider,  March 10, 2021 by Chris Galford  A new partnership between the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will provide opportunities for NARUC to educate state public service commissioners and staff on nuclear issues.

This Nuclear Energy Partnership will last for five years to help regulators better understand the barriers to and potential of what is currently the nation’s largest source of zero carbon power.[ [zero carbon? That’s just not true ]   It will officially begin this month and be co-chaired by Anthony O’Donnell of the Maryland Public Service Commission and Tim Echols of the Georgia Public Service Commission, chair and vice chair, respectively, of the NARUC Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues — Waste Disposal.

Estimates put nuclear power’s contributions to U.S. electricity at approximately 20 percent of the total last year. However, among the 94 nuclear reactors pumping out that clean power, many are approaching 40 years in service……. https://dailyenergyinsider.com/featured/29440-naruc-doe-strike-five-year-deal-to-allow-nuclear-education-of-state-energy-regulators/

March 11, 2021 Posted by | Education, USA | 1 Comment

Protesters call on Hopkins University to drop nuclear weapons research 

January 28, 2021 Posted by | Education, opposition to nuclear, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Universities in collusion with nuclear industry

U.S. universities have continued to build connections to the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Although students and faculty have opposed university participation in nuclear weapons research and development at various points in the last 70 years, such participation continues.

 November 15, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/2663585/posts/3150281214   An ICAN report

Universities across the United States are identified in this report for activities ranging from directly managing laboratories that design nuclear weapons to recruiting and training the next generation of nuclear weapons scientists. Much of universities’ nuclear weapons work is kept secret from students and faculty by classified research policies and undisclosed contracts with the Defense Department and the Energy Department. The following is the executive summary from ICAN’s report: Schools of Mass Destruction, with some changes made for timeliness.

Over the next ten years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates U.S. taxpayers will pay nearly $500 billion to maintain and modernize their country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, or almost $100,000 per minute. A separate estimate brings the total over the next 30 years to an estimated $1.7 trillion. In a July 2019 report, National Nuclear Security Administrator Lisa Gordon-Haggerty wrote, “The nuclear security enterprise is at its busiest since the demands of the Cold War era.”

In addition to large amounts of funding, enacting these upgrades requires significant amounts of scientific, technical and human capital. To a large extent, the U.S. government and its contractors have turned to the nation’s universities to provide this capital.

Over the next ten years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates U.S. taxpayers will pay nearly $500 billion to maintain and modernize their country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, or almost $100,000 per minute. A separate estimate brings the total over the next 30 years to an estimated $1.7 trillion. In a July 2019 report, National Nuclear Security Administrator Lisa Gordon-Haggerty wrote, “The nuclear security enterprise is at its busiest since the demands of the Cold War era.”

Despite these debates, U.S. universities have continued to build connections to the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Although students and faculty have opposed university participation in nuclear weapons research and development at various points in the last 70 years, such participation continues.

Universities involve themselves in the nuclear weapons complex through the four channels listed below. In return for this engagement, universities receive funding, access to research facilities, and specific career opportunities for students.

1) Direct Management

A handful of universities directly manage nuclear weapons related activities on behalf of the federal government, retaining contracts worth billions of dollars per year collectively. These include the University of California, Texas A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Rochester.

2) Institutional Partnerships

Many of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) sites advertise collaborative agreements with local and national universities. These formal agreements allow the institutions to cooperate on research and share personnel and expertise. They can also provide university researchers access to funding and advanced facilities in the NNSA laboratories. The report highlights more than 30 such agreements with schools in 18 states.

3) Research Programs and Partnerships

In addition to formal institutional partnerships, numerous connections exist between universities and the nuclear weapons complex at the research project level. In a report delivered to Congress in July 2019, the NNSA highlights that more than $65 million in grants were delivered to academic institutions in the last year to support stockpile stewardship. When including grants and subcontracts from the NNSA labs as well, the total amount of funding to universities for research may be higher than $150 million per year.

4) Workforce Development Programs

Former Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry has written that finding “the next generation workforce of world-class scientists, engineers and technicians is a major priority.” Through university partnerships, vocational training programs and research fellowships, the NNSA creates employment pipelines for the development of its future workforce.

A primary goal of this report is to facilitate a shared understanding of university connections to nuclear weapons research and development. A common factual basis will help communities of university faculty, students and administrations engage in robust internal debates and take action. Universities would not willingly participate today in the production of chemical and biological weapons; for the same humanitarian reasons, no university should seek an association with the other category of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear weapons.

While American universities have played a key role in the development and continuation of nuclear weapons, they can now join U.S. cities and states that have rejected U.S. nuclear weapons and called on the federal government to support nuclear reductions and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In light of the research presented,  this report offers the following recommendations to universities:

Recommendations

• Provide greater transparency into connections with the nuclear weapons complex;

• Stop directly managing nuclear weapons production sites and dissolve research contracts solely related to nuclear weapons production;

• For contracts with dual-purpose research applications, demand greater transparency and create specific processes for ethical review of this research;

• Advocate for reinvestment of weapons activities funding to non-proliferation and environmental remediation efforts; and

• Join cities and state legislatures in urging the federal government to support the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and reverse course on nuclear arms control backsliding.

See the full list of universities.

The above is the Executive Summary of ICAN’s report on US Universities. Read the full report. Beyond Nuclear is a member of ICAN.

In addition to large amounts of funding, enacting these upgrades requires significant amounts of scientific, technical and human capital. To a large extent, the U.S. government and its contractors have turned to the nation’s universities to provide this capital.

At the same time, the United States is shirking its previous commitments to nuclear arms control and reducing nuclear risks despite its obligation under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue good-faith measures towards nuclear disarmament.

In August 2019, the United States officially withdrew from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, testing a treaty-prohibited missile shortly thereafter. The Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review expanded the circumstances under which the United States would consider the first use of nuclear weapons and called for the development of two new sea-based low-yield nuclear weapon systems.

Internationally, many member states of the United Nations have recognized the devastating humanitarian and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons: debating, adopting, signing and now ratifying the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

January 28, 2021 Posted by | Education, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Protest rally against University of Arkansas’ involvement with nuclear weapons corporation

Group protests UA involvement with nuclear corporation, https://www.nwahomepage.com/news/group-protests-ua-involvement-with-nuclear-corporation/ by: Megan Wilson, Jan 22, 2021, FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Northwest Arkansans join peace groups around the world celebrating an international treaty on prohibiting nuclear weapons.

While 86 countries signed the treaty, the U.S. was not one of them.

A group gathered at the University of Arkansas to protest its contract with the nuclear weapons corporation Honeywell International.

Abel Tomlinson is the founder of Arkansas Non-Violence Alliance.

He said the University contradicts its mission statement by building non-nuclear components for the bombs.

“Its mission statement says that they’re ‘determined to build a better world.’ and we belive that building nuclear bombs is the complete opposite of that. Nobody should be having them. They’re endangering everyone, it’s unacceptable,” Tomlinson said.

The University of Arkansas was aware of today’s protest, but did not wish to comment.

January 25, 2021 Posted by | Education, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

American universities in the US nuclear weapons complex

US universities should reject, not invest in, nuclear weapons  Schools of mass destruction  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/11/15/schools-of-mass-destruction/

American universities in the US nuclear weapons complex

An ICAN report

Universities across the United States are identified in this report for activities ranging from directly managing laboratories that design nuclear weapons to recruiting and training the next generation of nuclear weapons scientists. Much of universities’ nuclear weapons work is kept secret from students and faculty by classified research policies and undisclosed contracts with the Defense Department and the Energy Department.  The following is the executive summary from ICAN’s report: Schools of Mass Destruction, with some changes made for timeliness.   Posted on November 15, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational

Over the next ten years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates U.S. taxpayers will pay nearly $500 billion to maintain and modernize their country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, or almost $100,000 per minute. A separate estimate brings the total over the next 30 years to an estimated $1.7 trillion. In a July 2019 report, National Nuclear Security Administrator Lisa Gordon-Haggerty wrote, “The nuclear security enterprise is at its busiest since the demands of the Cold War era.”

In addition to large amounts of funding, enacting these upgrades requires significant amounts of scientific, technical and human capital. To a large extent, the U.S. government and its contractors have turned to the nation’s universities to provide this capital.

At the same time, the United States is shirking its previous commitments to nuclear arms control and reducing nuclear risks despite its obligation under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue good-faith measures towards nuclear disarmament.

In August 2019, the United States officially withdrew from the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, testing a treaty-prohibited missile shortly thereafter. The Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review expanded the circumstances under which the United States would consider the first use of nuclear weapons and called for the development of two new sea-based low-yield nuclear weapon systems.

Internationally, many member states of the United Nations have recognized the devastating humanitarian and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons: debating, adopting, signing and now ratifying the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Despite these debates, U.S. universities have continued to build connections to the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Although students and faculty have opposed university participation in nuclear weapons research and development at various points in the last 70 years, such participation continues.

Universities involve themselves in the nuclear weapons complex through the four channels listed below. In return for this engagement, universities receive funding, access to research facilities, and specific career opportunities for students.

1) Direct Management

A handful of universities directly manage nuclear weapons related activities on behalf of the federal government, retaining contracts worth billions of dollars per year collectively. These include the University of California, Texas A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Rochester.

2) Institutional Partnerships

Many of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) sites advertise collaborative agreements with local and national universities. These formal agreements allow the institutions to cooperate on research and share personnel and expertise. They can also provide university researchers access to funding and advanced facilities in the NNSA laboratories. The report highlights more than 30 such agreements with schools in 18 states.

3) Research Programs and Partnerships

In addition to formal institutional partnerships, numerous connections exist between universities and the nuclear weapons complex at the research project level. In a report delivered to Congress in July 2019, the NNSA highlights that more than $65 million in grants were delivered to academic institutions in the last year to support stockpile stewardship. When including grants and subcontracts from the NNSA labs as well, the total amount of funding to universities for research may be higher than $150 million per year.

4) Workforce Development Programs

Former Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry has written that finding “the next generation workforce of world-class scientists, engineers and technicians is a major priority.” Through university partnerships, vocational training programs and research fellowships, the NNSA creates employment pipelines for the development of its future workforce.

A primary goal of this report is to facilitate a shared understanding of university connections to nuclear weapons research and development. A common factual basis will help communities of university faculty, students and administrations engage in robust internal debates and take action. Universities would not willingly participate today in the production of chemical and biological weapons; for the same humanitarian reasons, no university should seek an association with the other category of weapons of mass destruction: nuclear weapons.

While American universities have played a key role in the development and continuation of nuclear weapons, they can now join U.S. cities and states that have rejected U.S. nuclear weapons and called on the federal government to support nuclear reductions and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In light of the research presented,  this report offers the following recommendations to universities:

Recommendations

• Provide greater transparency into connections with the nuclear weapons complex;

• Stop directly managing nuclear weapons production sites and dissolve research contracts solely related to nuclear weapons production;

• For contracts with dual-purpose research applications, demand greater transparency and create specific processes for ethical review of this research;

• Advocate for reinvestment of weapons activities funding to non-proliferation and environmental remediation efforts; and

• Join cities and state legislatures in urging the federal government to support the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and reverse course on nuclear arms control backsliding.

See the full list of universities.

The above is the Executive Summary of ICAN’s report on US Universities. Read the full report. Beyond Nuclear is a member of ICAN.

November 16, 2020 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby gets its tentacles into education in India

Shiv Nadar School Hosts Virtual Boot Camp on Nuclear Energy, Climate Change and Sustainability, India Education Diary
By India Education Diary Bureau Admin -November 11, 2020,
Noida: Shiv Nadar School, Noida, (a not-for-profit initiative of the Shiv Nadar Foundation in K12 education) organized the first-of-its-kind Energy Boot Camp as part of its STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program to bring awareness about clean energy, climate change and sustainability.The Boot Camp was organized virtually in association with the Indian Youth Nuclear Society (IYNS), from November 6 to 8, 2020 and witnessed participation from around 2000 students (Grade 6 to 12)…….. https://indiaeducationdiary.in/shiv-nadar-school-hosts-virtual-boot-camp-on-nuclear-energy-climate-change-and-sustainability/

November 12, 2020 Posted by | Education, India | Leave a comment

How to educate American children about nuclear weapons?

September 5, 2020 Posted by | Education, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Students unaware of nuclear weapons and the existential threat that they pose

Students Aren’t Learning About Nuclear Weapons. That’s a Major Problem.  AT TOP https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a33917558/nuclear-weapons-education-in-schools/   Popular Mechanics,  BY CAROLINE DELBERT, SEP 4, 2020  

  • Not enough young people have access to even the option of studying nuclear weapons dynamics, an industry report says.
  • Nuclear weapons development continues around the world.
  • The current nuclear risk workforce is aging out, with few interested in replacing them.
  • At the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, innovation advocate Sara Z. Kutchesfahani says the vast majority of U.S. students don’t learn about nuclear weapons in high school, or even in most relevant college coursework. Kutchesfahani says that low level of knowledge, combined with industry factors, means the nuclear workforce itself is about to hit a critical state.
  • Kutchesfahani is writing on behalf of an industry thinktank, N Square, a “funders collaborative” that advocates for nuclear threat reduction. She says the lack of flow of new, younger workers into the nuclear sector will create a dangerously unbalanced workforce demographic in an industry that will still need a lot of support for the foreseeable future. Even if nuclear weapons are never used, they must be maintained carefully. If they’re “disarmed” in the future, trained people must handle and dispose of or recycle them.
  • In the essay, Kutchesfahani likens nuclear weapons awareness and literacy to the idea of climate change awareness and curricula, because, she says, both are existential threats:

    “[I]f school boards, curriculum writers, and teachers and professors continue to ignore the topic of nuclear weapons and do not include it in class curricula, the public will continue to be unaware of the existential threat these devastating weapons pose to humanity, and the professional field will have difficulty sustaining itself.”
    Much of nuclear investment in 2020 is in energy—for better or worse, world powers are treating next-generation nuclear power like the next big thing and even using that as a way to underfund investment in wind, solar, hydro, and other sustainable forms of energy.

    But there has also been a new kind of nuclear warhead developed and now tested in 2020, a low-yield warhead launched from a submarine that, again, is publicly billed as a “deterrent” to other nations’ nuclear aggressions, particularly Russia.

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  • The fact remains that as long as there are nuclear weapons in play on the world stage, the world must realistically discuss them. That’s separate from politics, or even whether advocates are for or against nuclear weapons at all. If someone walked into your home while juggling flaming batons, you’d suddenly wish you had a flaming batons expert to help you decide what to do next.
Nuclear has a special stigma, but in STEM overall, younger people are increasingly drawn to nanotech and other cutting-edge, computation-heavy or technology-enabled fields over, say, the traditional field work of a working research biologist. Perhaps the same lessons could attract new talent into a variety of science fields, including nuclear defense studies.

September 5, 2020 Posted by | Education, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Dept of Energy entrenching the nuclear industry into universities, (at tax-payers’ expense)

Sad to see tax-payers” money going to the co-option of universities into promoting a dirty, dangerous and absurdly uneconomic nuclear industry.’ The claim about combatting climate change is laughable. These “new generation” nuclear reactors would never be in operation in time to have any effect on climate change – even if they dis work against global heating (which they don’t, anyway)
DOE investing more than $800,000 in Idaho to advance nuclear technology Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com,  June 26, 2020   

DAHO FALLS – During a visit to the Idaho National Laboratory last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced more than $65 million in nuclear energy research for projects across the country. ……. The funds are being awarded to 93 projects across 28 different states. More than $800,000 has been allocated for projects in eastern Idaho. …..An undetermined amount is being awarded to the INL for various research experiments.

Idaho State University in Pocatello will be awarded $59,262 to replace the control rod drive for its nuclear reactor. The project will focus on improving its design to make it more reliable and safe, as well as decrease its complexity.

Boise State University and the University of Idaho are also included on the list.   ……. https://www.eastidahonews.com/2020/06/doe-investing-more-than-800000-in-idaho-to-advance-nuclear-technology/

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry encroaching further into USA education, thanks to DOE funding

Department of Energy Invests $65 Million at National Laboratories and American Universities to Advance Nuclear Technologym Energy.gov

JUNE 18, 202   WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $65 million in nuclear energy research, cross-cutting technology development, facility access, and infrastructure awards for 93 advanced nuclear technology projects in 28 states. The awards fall under DOE’s nuclear energy programs called the Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP), the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET), and the Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF)…….

Nuclear Energy University Program ($55M)

DOE is awarding more than $38.6 million through NEUP to support 57 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 24 states. NEUP seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.

Additionally, 21 university-led projects will receive more than $5.7 million for research reactor and infrastructure improvements, ……. https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-invests-65-million-national-laboratories-and-american-universities

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Energy Dept awards for nuclear students (not for renewable energy ones)

U.S. Department of Energy Announces Education Awards for the Next Generation of Nuclear Scientists and Engineers, APRIL 14, 2020  WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced more than $5 million in awards through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s Integrated University Program. The program offers undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships to students pursuing nuclear engineering degrees and other nuclear science and engineering programs relevant to nuclear energy. The awards include 42 scholarships and 34 fellowships for students at 32 U.S. colleges and universities.

“The Integrated University Program is focused on attracting the best and the brightest to nuclear energy professions,” ….https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/us-department-energy-announces-education-awards-next-generation-nuclear-scientists-and-0

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment

NuScam and other nuclear companies weasel their way into University of Tennessee

TVA signs nuclear research MOU with University of Tennessee on advanced SMR technologies, Power Engineering Rod Walton, 4.7.20  In its latest move toward potentially embracing next-gen nuclear energy technology, the Tennessee Valley Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with the state’s largest university to study it together.

The University of Tennessee and TVA signed the MOU to evaluate development of advanced nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors. The project, if developed, would be at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site in Roane County.

TVA has not made a decision to build it and would still require U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval for a specific design. Late last year, however, the NRC approved the federal utility’s early site permit at Clinch River.

Earlier this year, TVA announced it had signed an MOU with the Oak Ridge National Lab, part of the Energy Department system……. This announcement joins previously announced partnerships and design advancements involving companies such as NuScale Power, Lightbridge, Framatome and South Korea’s SMART SMR……

Knoxville is the flagship campus for the UT system. The university has more than 29,000 students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 other nations.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com).  https://www.power-eng.com/2020/04/07/tva-signs-nuclear-research-mou-with-university-of-tennessee-on-advanced-smr-technologies/

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment

Sam and the Plant Next Door – growing up by the nuclear power plant

Sam, 11, is always being told not to worry about the nuclear power plant rising next door, but for him there is lots to think about. Hinkley Point C will be Britain’s largest nuclear plant, and it’s only two miles away. Most of his classmates expect to work at the plant but Sam is determined to escape that fate.

His dream is to protect the surrounding marine life he identifies with. Like the fish, he feels unappreciated by the adults. Sam thinks the only way to reach his dream is to leave his friends behind and to go to a private school. But when he’s offered a place, his parents can’t afford the fees. As a last resort, they turn to the power company for funding, which forces Sam to decide what kind of person he wants to be. Drifting between Sam’s daily life and his dreams, a film about holding on and letting go, along the tricky passage from childhood innocence to grown-up life  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMhYngrEgZU&feature=youtu.be

April 4, 2020 Posted by | Education, UK | Leave a comment

A call for John Hopkins University to stop helping nuclear weapons industry

Hopkins must take a stand against its nuclear weapons production,  https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2019/11/hopkins-must-take-a-stand-against-its-nuclear-weapons-production

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | November 21, 2019 After years of protests from students, the University continues to invest in fossil fuel companies. It has an exclusivity contract with PepsiCo, a company that uses suppliers who violate child labor laws, going against ethical and sustainable business practices. Most recently, the University was slow to end contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agency that is responsible for separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The University’s involvement in these contracts has been well publicized and heavily criticized by students and professors alike. Adding to this list of questionable practices is a partnership that is less well-known, but just as problematic: a contract with the U.S. government to take part in nuclear weapons research.

On Nov. 13, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) published a report stating that 49 U.S. universities are complicit in the production of nuclear weapons. The group calls on students and faculty to “demand their universities stop helping to build weapons of mass destruction.”

The report is scathing. It repeatedly mentions Hopkins, highlighting its involvement in creating nuclear weapons for the U.S. ICAN notes that Hopkins receives twice as much funding as any other university from the Department of Defense (DOD) largely because of the work of its renowned Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). Created in 1942 for weapons development in World War II, the APL has since served as a technical resource for the U.S. government, developing numerous technologies for air and missile defense, naval warfare, computer security and space science.

In 2017, the APL received a seven year contract with the DOD for $93 million to continue the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s strategic partnership. This contributes to the multi-year contract with the agency that is now worth more than $7 billion.

The research involved in this deal is largely classified. On the surface, this seems to contradict the University’s policy against classified research. However, the APL is exempt from this policy, as it is the only part of the University listed as a “non-academic division.”

The University continues to brand itself as an ethical research institution. However, its direct involvement with the development of weapons of mass destruction is contradictory to these actions.

We believe that Hopkins should remove itself from all contracts associated with nuclear weapons. Instead, the APL should focus on research that does not have the same devastating and inhumane implications that nuclear weapons do.

Those who support the University’s work with nuclear weapons may argue that Hopkins receives a high monetary benefit from their partnership with the Department of Defense. They may also claim that Hopkins, which is just one of nearly 50 universities conducting research, can’t make any difference on its own. Even if Hopkins ends the contracts, why would other schools do the same?

These arguments are valid, and we understand the concerns that are associated with terminating the contracts. It is true that Hopkins receives a hefty sum for its involvement with the DOD. According to ICAN, “the funding ceiling for its ongoing contract was extended beyond $7 billion” in 2019.

There is also a turning tide against nuclear weapons development across the world. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, introduced to the United Nations in 2017, bans the development and use of nuclear weapons by signatories. So far, 122 countries have signed on, though the U.S. and most western countries have not. If Hopkins and other reputable institutions take a stand against nuclear weapons development, it will send a sign to the world at large that we want to move on from using these weapons of mass destruction.

Large scale change starts small, and it starts with us. We encourage students to take a stand for what they believe in. As with any other issue, there are multiple ways to tell Hopkins that it’s time for a change. On their website, ICAN outlines three ways that students can speak out. They recommend publicizing the issue, demanding transparency from universities and calling on them to end their work with nuclear weapons.

We know that there’s no guarantee that Hopkins will end its contracts and stop working on nuclear weapons development. But by speaking out, we can initiate the change. Activists who are part of sustainability and pro-peace groups can protest against nuclear weapons production. Students who are majoring in STEM fields can take a stand against working at the associated departments at the APL, and should be aware of the larger implications of any research they are involved in. All students can tell Hopkins that we demand an explanation and that we take issue with the greater mission behind the research.

The University’s mission statement, in part, mentions that its goal is “To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.” We hope that the University will refocus its attention on these goals. If Hopkins turns away from nuclear weapons research, other institutions may follow in our path. Making the world a safer place is the best way to bring the benefits of our discovery to everyone.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Education, USA | Leave a comment