The Nuclear Studies Institute was founded in 1995 at American University in Washington, D.C. as a component of the American University College of Arts and Sciences. The purpose of the Institute is to educate American University graduate and undergraduate students, as well as the general public, about the key points of nuclear history, nuclear culture in the United States, and the threats still posed by nuclear weapons in the modern world.
Under the direction of Dr. Peter Kuznick, the Institute runs during the University summer session, offering on-campus classes dealing with American nuclear culture and also a two-week study trip to Japan. In Japan, American University students, along with other American and Canadian students, travel and study alongside Japanese students, mainly from Ritsumeikan University as well as other universities in Japan and the region. The study tours the cities of Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, where the students hear lectures, visit landmarks, and attend the memorial ceremonies for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as their respective peace museums, in an effort to foster closer ties on both sides of the Pacific.
The 2010 Nuclear Studies Institute trip to Japan was covered by NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting corporation, and broadcast on Japanese television and featured on the NHK program “Japan Seven Days.”
The Institute provides participants with opportunities to hear many stories of the hibakusha (被爆者, literally “explosion-affected people”), including those of Koko Kondo, peace activist, American University graduate, and daughter of Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, who figures heavily in John Hersey’s Hiroshima. Tadatoshi Akiba, mayor of Hiroshima and president of the Mayors for Peace organization, also regularly meets with the participants during their study in Hiroshima.
Led by Professor Kuznick, this course explores Japanese wartime aggression, the human physical devastation wrought by the atomic bombings, current Japanese and international efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, and the building of closer ties between the peoples of the United States and Japan. Students live and study with Japanese and other Asian students, professors, peace activists, and policy experts. Participants meet with atomic bomb survivors and Asian victims of Japanese atrocities and hear first-hand accounts of their experiences. Students also participate in a broad range of Japanese commemorative events and visit peace museums and relevant cultural and historical sites in Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, such as the Kyoto Museum for World Peace, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, and peace parks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although the subject matter is serious, participants also have time to socialize and even attend a Hiroshima Carps baseball game.
For further information, contact:
Department of History
4400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20016