"Today, the danger of some sort of nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War, and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger."
I wrote these words three years ago, and my concern led me to create my first Stanford Online course, "Living at the Nuclear Brink." Our nuclear peril continues to increase, and therefore I offer the next in our series of free courses on this vital subject: The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism. The topic is frightening, but it is one we must face if we are to have any chance of stopping potential catastrophe.
Is the threat of nuclear terrorism real? Listen to Graham Allison, Martha Crenshaw, David Holloway and Joe Martz as they investigate the evidence with myself and selected Stanford students. What would be the consequences of a nuclear terror attack? The scenario is difficult to imagine, but Alex Wellerstein and Lynn Eden help me and our students understand just what could happen if the worst case occurs, and how we can work to limit the damage. What can we do to prevent or mitigate this risk? Participate as I explore this crucial question with the help of Stephen Flynn, Rachel Bronson, Valerie Plame Wilson, Ellen Tauscher and Jeffrey Lewis.
With the expert help of Stanford Online, we are able to bring to you this unprecedented group of experts from a wide variety of fields, who share a strong commitment to the urgency of educating people on this important topic. In some of the sessions, you will also hear students actively participating in the conversation. In just five weeks, you’ll be exposed to a profound and sometimes disturbing body of research and information, and challenged to find a path forward out of this predicament.
You will have an opportunity to obtain a Statement of Accomplishment, by watching the lecture videos and completing the weekly Peer Assessment tasks, but there are no prerequisites other than curiosity and a passion for learning. We do not have required reading, but under the Additional Resources tab you will find numerous books, articles, web links and videos to enhance your experience. In addition, we offer a "Nukes in the News" section to add topicality. The more you participate, the more you will get out of your experience.
Our course differs from most online courses in a fundamental way: our goal is not just to provide facts, but to inspire you to take action. You have the power to make a difference, and I believe this course will give you knowledge and hopefully motivation to do so. You can read more about the subject, and find ways to become involved, by visiting the website of the William J. Perry Project: www.wjperryproject.org.
William J. Perry
With thanks and appreciation to Stanford Online, Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Carnegie Corporation for support of this course.
Week 1: Who Are the Terrorists? What Do They Want? Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Graham Allison, Dr. Martha Crenshaw
Week 2: What Are the Historical and Contemporary Security Issues with Nuclear Weapons and Materials? Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Graham Allison, Dr. David Holloway, Valerie Plame Wilson
Week 3: Could a Terrorist Group Make a Nuclear Bomb? If a Terrorist Group Made an Improvised Nuclear Device, Could They Deliver It to One of Our Cities? Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Stephen Flynn, Dr. Joseph Martz
Week 4: What Would Be the Consequences of an Improvised Nuclear Device's Detonation in a U.S. City? Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Lynn Eden, Dr. Alex Wellerstein
Week 5: What Has Been Done to Lower the Likelihood of a Nuclear Terror Event, or to Mitigate the Damage if We Experience One?
William J. Perry, Graham Allison and Rachel Bronson