The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in partnership with the Nuclear Law Association, India and TERI University, convened a three-day meeting starting July 13, 2015, on ways to improve communication surrounding nuclear energy. The meeting was part of the Global Nuclear Future (GNF) Initiative, a comprehensive interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, and multi-national project. Led in part by University of Chicago Professor Bob Rosner, the Initiative works to identify paths that permit the peaceful use of nuclear power while minimizing the potential adverse consequences of the spread of inherently risky nuclear technology.
“Given that civilian nuclear power is likely to be a key element of any world-wide strategy for effectively combatting fossil fuel-driven climate change, it is critical that the safety, security and non-proliferation concerns surrounding this technology be addressed – and that these efforts be conveyed accurately and effectively to the public,” says Rosner, the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor and a founding co-director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.
The meeting was designed to address the barriers to effective communications around nuclear energy, and to consider differences in the approaches of legacy and newcomer nuclear countries, among other objectives. Event presenters and participants recommended that a center of excellence in nuclear energy be created for scientists, social scientists and communication experts to engage in cross-disciplinary research, distill best practices and provide training to policymakers about nuclear-energy-related activities. They also advised that journalists receive training on nuclear technology and local initiatives be created to raise public awareness of the benefits and risks of nuclear energy, especially in states with nuclear power plants.
In addition to Rosner, the Global Nuclear Future Initiative is led by Steven Miller from Harvard University and Scott Sagan from Stanford University. Along with identifying paths that permit the peaceful use of nuclear power, the Initiative works to engage with key constituencies—in particular in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East—whose choices and behavior will have a significant impact on the character of the international nuclear order.