There are many ways to engage students. There are also many ways to arouse emotions and create a commitment. When it comes to nuclear weapons, we know that the more a person knows about the consequences of these weapons, the more emotions are created and it is easier to get a picture of and create an interest in how the world and the political situation is constructed.
Make a speech / debate
This exercise is for the student to practice public speaking in front of an audience. It’s about arguing for or against nuclear weapons with well-founded arguments. What are the advantages / disadvantages of nuclear weapons, are there any safety guarantees or health arguments and so on. The exercise is about the student to understand different positions that argue for or against nuclear weapons.
Positions the student can take:
- NATO Officer
- President of a nuclear state
- Peace activist
- UN employee
Prepare a presentation
To prepare a presentation is always informative and instructive. When it comes to nuclear weapons, there are several different perspectives and elements that the student can focus on. Questions to pick up may partly involve the expertise and practical issues, or it may be about to talk about nuclear weapons from a particular perspective, for example, gender or religion.
Relevant subjects may be geography, history and social studies. In geography, the student can learn about which countries have nuclear weapons, which countries have nuclear weapons deployed in its territory but is not counted as nuclear weapon state, if any country has had plans to acquire nuclear weapons / had nuclear weapons but given up the plans, nuclear-free zones, which countries that call for a ban on nuclear weapons.
In history, the students can see to then and now. For example what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and how the world looks today.
Social studies may involve for example security, investigate why some countries have nuclear weapons, what creates safety and security guarantees, what is the difference between non-proliferation and disarmament etcetera.
To then apply a different perspective on the issues allows the student go deeper in their knowledge and work in a way that encourages critical thinking.
Write a letter
When we talk about nuclear weapons, we talk mostly about the consequences of nuclear weapons. We’re talking about the weapon carriers – how far they can reach, what kind of missile or submarine, the construction – we’re talking about explosive force, which countries that have nuclear weapons and about Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. What we often forget to talk about is the people. The people who build these weapons, the people who work with these weapons and those who make it possible for these weapons to exist, i.e. those who invest in nuclear weapons.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, and the Dutch organization Pax write a report each year in which they are investigating who invest in nuclear weapons. This involves both banks, companies and funds. Find out what you can do in the Campaigners kit.
Ask the students to find out what kind of policies the banks and funds have when it comes to nuclear weapons. If they do not think that the result is satisfactory, they can write a letter to the banks or funds with well-reasoned arguments about the matter. This is about both to look up information and contact details, while making a difference and influence society.
In 2014 a book was published by the UN written by Dr. Kathleen Sullivan and Peter Lucas called Action for Disarmament, 10 things you can do! with ideas and suggestions on how you can get involved and people around you. Order a copy online on the UN website.
For even more inspiration, go to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, school activities.