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 Humanitiesto be held September 24-28enables 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.


“‘Nuclear explosions are beautiful’, she said. ‘At a distance.’” — Garbo Laughs

“Wherever nuclear events occur, photographers are present. They are there not only to record what happens, but also to assist in the production of what happens.” — John O’Brian

“If ever the world is blown to bits by some superbomb, there will be those who will watch the spectacle to the last minute, without fear, disinterestedly and with detachment. I do not mean that there is lack of interest in this disinterestedness or lack of emotion in this detachment. Quite the contrary. But the self is no longer important to the observer; it is absorbed into the objects with which it is concerned.” — J. Glenn Gray

“Nuclear weaponry depends, more than any weaponry in the past, it seems, upon structures of information and communication, structures of language, including non-vocalizable language, structures of codes and graphic decoding.” — Jacques Derrida


summary of Program

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.

Day 1: Charting old roads
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Maxey Building W42, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

Day 2: Exploring alternative pathways
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Maxey Building W42, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA 

Day 3: Commemorating nuclear fear
12:00-17:00 (open to the public)
Monday, September 26, 2016
Maxey Museum for Man and Nature, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA 

Day 4: Experiencing nuclear harm
06:00-13:30 (optional)
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
B-Reactor Tour HQ, 2000 Logston Boulevard, Richland, WA

Day 5: Feasting on the nuclear humanities
17:30-19:30 (food provided)
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Glover Alston Center, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA