Nuclear Security Education Program advances students' knowledge of nuclear security topics through interdisciplinary coursework

Purdue Political Science professor Keith Shimko is part of a team that has developed and implemented a cross-discipline Nuclear Security Education Program (NSEP) at Purdue. The program anticipates graduating its first students in Spring 2020. 

The program was developed out of a grant received in 2017 from the National Nuclear Security Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.

The coursework increases students' general knowledge of wide-ranging nuclear security topics. Program participants take courses across three Purdue colleges: Liberal Arts, Health and Human Sciences, and Engineering. The program covers nuclear security across five main disciplines: political science, history, health sciences, nuclear engineering, and materials science and engineering. It combines technical and policy coursework.

The interdisciplinary aspect of the program is a critical component. The NSEP aims to prepare well-rounded students for professional work in governmental organizations, such as the Department of Energy or the Department of Defense, as well as NGOs or international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Professor Shimko brings expertise on arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and modern weapons. He teaches a course on the history of nuclear proliferation and the development of nuclear strategy.

Planned expansion of the NSEP includes additional programs: a nuclear security and safety concentration in the School of Health Sciences, a nuclear security and nonproliferation major in the School of Nuclear Engineering, a nuclear security concentration in the Department of Political Science, and a graduate online certificate program in nuclear security and nonproliferation.

Courses in the current program are open to non-program participants, meaning students may enroll in one or several courses without completing with entire program.

The NSEP is part of Purdue's Center for Radiological and Nuclear Security (CRANS). According to the CRANS website: "CRANS looks to sustain efforts in nuclear security, particularly through teaching and mentoring students, in an effort to combat the eroding population of skilled personnel in the field."


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