Fall 2014

Nuclear America

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-347

Moodle site: Course


Eleonora Mattiacci (Section 01)


[G] Nuclear activity is ridden with contradictions: nuclear power is one of the most environmental-friendly sources of energy, yet nuclear waste presents considerable health dangers. Moreover, while nuclear energy is badly needed by many states for economic development, it can lay the foundations for the acquisition of the most powerful weapons in the world. Few countries embody the contradictions of nuclear power to the degree to which the United States does. The first country to detonate a nuclear device (and the only one to have used it in conflict), the U.S. quickly became the champion of anti-proliferation efforts; at the same time, while heavily relying on nuclear power, the U.S. also has displayed throughout its history a burgeoning "Nuclear Fear," permeating, as Spencer Weart explains, various aspects of public life. This class explores the evolution through history of the U.S. foreign policy strategy on issues of nuclear proliferation (both horizontal and vertical), connecting it to the domestic debate on uses of nuclear power and nuclear research. The aim of the class is to explore the links between the domestic and the international dimension of the U.S. position on nuclear weapons: how did the Three Mile Island incident affect the U.S. posture on nuclear weapons reduction, if at all? How did the culture of containment during the Cold War affect the domestic debate on nuclear weapons? Under what conditions had the boundaries between domestic and international stances on nuclear power become porous, and when did they become fixed instead? The structure of the class will be diachronic: we will be following and reading about the posture of the U.S. on nuclear weapons issues in the international arena through the decades, as well as on domestic developments concerning nuclear weapons. The class will therefore use the relation between America and nuclear weapons to understand a variety of theories of International Relations, including  Liberalist, Social Constructivist, and Critical Security Studies approaches.

Limited to 25 students.  Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Mattiacci.

If Overenrolled: Preference will be given to political science majors.

Cost: 58.00 ?


2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014