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A False Sense of Security?

Probing the Complex Nuclear Landscape of the 21st Century


An interactive online certificate course 


Syllabus Outline






The Global Nuclear Awareness (GNA) program addresses the pressing questions many ask themselves as they take in the news every day:

Is America prepared for a nuclear accident or war?

Could our family survive a nuclear disaster?

Is nuclear power a safe alternative for our energy needs?

This course intends to arm you with research-based facts and knowledge that is imperative for living in the Nuclear Age. 

Course Duration: Complete the course(s) at your own pace in 14 weeks beginning from May 29th to August 29th, 2021

Effort: 2-3 hours per module, 15 hours in total for the GNA Certificate

Level: Beginner-Intermediate, no prerequisites are required   

Language: English

Price: $100 for 5 courses to attain a certificate or an option of $20 for each 

Refund policy:

A full refund is available if the participant withdraws within 3 days of registering. In the case of extenuating circumstances, contact us directly.


Certificate Program includes ten modules to choose from. These include 4 new topics, one updated live presentation, and five topics from 2020. 

Certification is based on the completion of 5 modules of your choice. The requirements for each module include: (1) watch video or live presentations, (2) complete the quizzes, and (3) submit the course evaluation at the end. Presenters are available to answer questions by email. 

Format and Components


At the core of this program are educational video presentations that emphasize objective facts and events and explore key issues in the global nuclear reality. They combine clear, accessible lectures by knowledgeable experts with stimulating online activities that encourage interaction between participants and presenters. 

Engagement and Interactive Learning

The program elements engage students in the issues presented and deepen their learning experience.


Each module includes:

  • Video presentation (45-75 minutes long) segmented thematically into shorter clips

  • Questions posted to encourage deeper reflection on the materials, but there is no requirement to answer them

  • Quiz to allow participants to test their knowledge after each presentation

  • Links to extra readings and materials

  • Email of the course moderator to facilitate communications between participants and presenters

  • July 3rd Live Panel Discussion with presenters

  • Short evaluation at the end of each course 


A Global Nuclear Awareness Certificate will be awarded to those who complete the above requirements. Participants are encouraged, although not required, to participate fully in all elements of the program.

Course Communication

If you have a question or comment for a presenter, we have designated a course moderator to help triage your questions. 


Top Tip: Please include the name of the presenter in your email.

Note: You can expect a response within 4 business days. 

The Reality of Nuclear Risk: Situating ourselves in the context of Nuclear Accidents and Nuclear Waste

Marissa Bell, PhD


Learning Objectives: 


  • Understand the fundamental risks associated with nuclear energy 

  • Comprehend the nuclear fuel cycle and production of nuclear waste

  • Analyze and understand the history of nuclear accidents

  • Examine the social and political issues surrounding nuclear waste siting 

  • Understand shifts in nuclear waste management approaches 

Nuclear Weapons and Catastrophic Risk

Feroza Joosub, PhD


Learning Objectives:


  • Understand contemporary security challenges and their relation to nuclear weapons and why the probabilities of inadvertent nuclear use are higher than has been previously considered


This involves:

  • Assessing the profoundly adversarial relationships between the nuclear superpowers (Russia and the U.S.)

  • Awareness of the complexity of deterrence relationships in the new multipolar nuclear order

  • Knowing why even a regional nuclear war concerns the existential security interests of all countries

  • Considering innovations in military doctrine 

  • Innovations in military technologies including disruptive technologies

  • Evaluating the implications of the nuclear deterrence doctrine 


The Waters of the World: Global Nuclear Concerns


Linda Redfield Shakoor PhD


Learning Outcomes:


Students will be able to:

  1. Explain in broad terms the magnitude of nuclear and radiological contamination concerns in the Great Lakes Basin

  2. Generally, identify the sources of internal contamination in the human body and genome by inhalation and ingestion

  3. Broadly assess the ongoing challenge of stranded nuclear waste nearshore and coastal lines

  4. Identify the environmental risks of radioactive waste in fresh and saltwater

  5. Understand how climate change places nuclear cooling systems at risk

Mandatory Live Presentation

The Science of Surviving Nuclear War


Paul Zimmerman, BA

In the event of nuclear war, be it limited or global, vast stretches of the environment will rapidly be rendered hostile to life due to contamination by radioactive fallout. Foreknowledge of radiation hazards and methods to mitigate these hazards are your only defense. Pursuing a nontechnical and visually engaging approach to the subject, this presentation will begin by describing nuclear radiation and its biological effects. Building upon this, options for safe sheltering will be explored. The lecture will conclude by describing the sobering need by potential survivors to acquire, in advance of war, simple to operate radiation detection equipment.

Presentation: Personal and Global Realities of the Nuclear Era


Tedd Weyman, MEd

Learning Outcomes:

To orient the Global Nuclear Awareness program participant to the 7 existential realities and issues associated with nuclear technologies and the anthropogenic use of nuclear radiation.

  1. Thermonuclear war

  2. Nuclear winter (consequences of nuclear war)

  3. Nuclear powered electricity (nuclear energy)

  4. (Accidental) Loss of containment at nuclear reactors

  5. Life-saving uses of nuclear technology and radiation

  6. Global warming – Is nuclear technology a solution?

  7. Radiation in the environment 

Nuclear War: Why We Should be Concerned about the New Nuclear Arms Race


Isaac Zimmerman, JD, BS

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Describe the historical development leading to thermonuclear weapons

  2. Distinguish between an atomic and hydrogen bomb

  3. Name the nine nuclear states and the size of the worldwide arsenal

  4. Identify the characteristics of a nuclear winter

  5. Understand the scale of destruction that could result from execution of the current nuclear war plans 

The American Nuclear Landscape: Is our Country Prepared for a Nuclear Crisis?

Linda Redfield Shakoor, PhD, MS

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify the five current major radiological and nuclear risks in the United States, particularly the Great Lakes region

  2. Compare and contrast the benefits and risks of nuclear power

  3. Assess the perceived risks of high-level radioactive waste transportation

  4. Describe how 2020 federal policy has impacted the debate surrounding on-site versus off-site storage of nuclear waste

  5. Identify local resources for disaster emergency planning and management



Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Never Forgotten

Last year, GNA held a webinar commemorating the 75th anniversary the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Three of the presentations are included here. The first speaker, Linda Redfield Shakoor, discusses how the American and Japanese collective memories of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings have been impacted by history and politics. She examines how the telling of Hibakusha (nuclear bomb survivors) experiences disrupts the public narratives of the events. The second speaker, David Elijah Bell, presents on the ongoing challenges for remediation and environmental health safety involving radiological hazard at U.S. Manhattan Project legacy sites. Drawing the subject together with its wider implications, the third speaker, Tedd Weyman, explores what it means to be living in a universe where radiation is a ubiquitous and an essential part of existence and how harnessing this power has potential benefits and risks for human beings.


1. "Values and Memories," Linda Redfield Shakoor, PhD

The memories, historical narratives, and visual representations of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki affect our collective memory of war and peace.  Shared global events and experiences, defined by media, politics, and world leaders, shape

our identities and values. This talk will consider the experiences of the living Japanese Hibakusha who survived the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and compare Japanese and American perceptions of the atomic bomb.


2. "Radioactive Remediation," David Elijah Bell, PhD, MPH

Creation of the first atomic weapons in the United States mobilized a network of research laboratories, testing grounds, industrial facilities, and waste dumping sites in what became collectively known as the Manhattan Project. Although the weapons were deployed in Japan with devastating effect, lasting damage and radiological hazard was also spread across the United States as a result of the development of these weapons. In 1974, the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) was created under the US Army Corps of Engineers to contain and remediate radiological hazards associated with Manhattan Project legacy sites. Now 75 years later, questions still remain as to what constitutes sufficient environmental remediation and safety at these sites from a public health perspective. This presentation examines the politics and controversy of epidemiological and public health assessment of Manhattan Project legacy contamination, given the need to balance safety with technical, scientific, and economic feasibilities for remediation.


3. "Living in a Radioactive World," Tedd Weyman, MEd

This presentation outlines the basic principles and physical properties of ionizing radiation as a critical dimension of the human species’ physical world. It reveals the surprising dimensions, natural balances, and connectivity of ionizing radiation in and between the human, planetary, and cosmic environments. It examines ionizing radiation's interactions at the biological level, its effects on health, its use in medicine, and the paramount public policy paradox: concomitantly causing harm and benefit. The implications for human health from technological trends that are increasing the quantity and frequency of radiation exposure to all humans through the nuclear fields of energy production, space exploration, military applications, and medicine will be considered.

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