Course Catalog



As future nonproliferation analysts or policymakers, graduates of the MANPTS program will regularly encounter nuclear policy challenges with both political and technical dimensions, from nuclear forensics to missile defense or arms control verification. Yet policymakers are in many cases ignorant of the technical aspects of nuclear policy, and scientists are often equally guilty of coming up with technical solutions to nuclear policy challenges that cannot be implemented because they ignore political realities. The course will explore a series of current and historical nuclear policy case studies to understand the technical and policy dimensions of key nuclear policy challenges, including: nuclear terrorism; nuclear forensics and attribution; the use of science in nuclear intelligence estimates; U.S. nuclear weapons targeting policies; stockpile stewardship and the nuclear weapons labs; the U.S. Reliable Replacement Warhead; detection of nuclear tests and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; historical debates over the development of thermonuclear weapons; and ongoing debates about the possibility for “nuclear winter” following either limited or extensive use of nuclear weapons. The current and historical role of scientists and science advisors in the nuclear policy process will also be explored alongside the cases, especially in the United States, but with some comparative consideration of “science and the state” in China, India, and Russia. In addition to seminar-based discussion, the course includes a role-playing simulation exercise, guest lectures by high-level practitioners with hands-on experience of the issues; and the opportunity for students to pursue a research project related to the course that aligns with their academic and professional interests. The course is suitable for MANPTS students of any background, though students will find it helpful to either concurrently or previously have taken “IPOL 8559 Science & Technology for NPTS.”

International Policy
International Policy
Intl Policy & Management
Requirements Fulfilled:


Fall 2012 - MIIS

IPOL8651A-F12 Seminar (Varnum)

Fall 2011 - MIIS

IPOL8651A-F11 Seminar (Varnum)