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History | Nuclear Studies Institute

On Campus Courses

Recent events in India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iraq, the United States, and the former Soviet Union remind Americans that, although the Cold War has ended, the threat posed by nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction continues. In preparing students to understand and help eliminate this threat, the award-winning Nuclear Studies Institute builds upon nine years of successful cooperation among American University, Ritsumeikan University, and the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The institute offers Americans the opportunity to study nuclear history and culture with students from Japan, the Marshall Islands, and other nations on a study-abroad trip to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Kyoto, Japan. Courses are also offered on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C. By exploring the history of nuclear weapons policy and the myriad ways people have dealt with and understood the threat of devastation, participants will be prepared to take leadership roles in building a more just and peaceful post-Cold War world.


Program of Activities

Institute courses may be taken in any combination. Students who complete all three earn nine undergraduate or graduate credits. The study-abroad course may also be taken under a noncredit option for reduced tuition.



American Culture in the Nuclear Age (3 credits)
This course runs intermittently

Taught by Peter Kuznick, professor of History in the College of Arts and Sciences, American University. American Culture in the Nuclear Age examines the evolution of nuclear culture through literature, film, television, and music. Analyzing the symbols, images, and language depicting nuclear arms, energy, and war, the course explores the ways Americans have adjusted to and rebelled against living with the threat of nuclear annihilation since 1945. Professor Kuznick, author of Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists as Political Activists in 1930s America, is a specialist in American culture. A full syllabus is available here. The course will run from June 27th to August 1st.

American Peace Movement (3 credits)
This course runs intermittently

This course traces the growth and decline of the American peace movement through three key periods:  nuclear testing, the Vietnam War, and the Reagan era.  The course draws on the works of contemporary historians and the experiences of Professor Sanford Gottlieb, who worked in the peace movement for 34 years.  Guest lecturers share their recollections of anti-war activities.  The course explores the role of interest groups, public opinion, attitude change and obstacles facing the peace movement.