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How to Study Arms Control

SAN FRANCISCO—Scientists have long been prominent in the debate on arms control and international security. Yet until recently, they had few mid-career opportunities to learn the technical and political issues that shape that debate. The 3-year-old science fellowship program at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control was created to meet that need. The program, which physicist/astronaut Sally K. Ride will join in October after she leaves NASA this

By | August 10, 1987

SAN FRANCISCO—Scientists have long been prominent in the debate on arms control and international security. Yet until recently, they had few mid-career opportunities to learn the technical and political issues that shape that debate.

The 3-year-old science fellowship program at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Arms Control was created to meet that need. The program, which physicist/astronaut Sally K. Ride will join in October after she leaves NASA this month, is designed to “restock the talent pool of scientists who can be critics or who can be involved as consultants” in the complex issues of conflict and peace, said co-director Sidney D. Drell.

The career shift of Benoit Morel is typical of about half the center’s science fellows. A 38-year-old French/Swiss theoretician in elementary particle physics, he accepted the Stanford fellowship while considering his future. This fall, rather than returning to Europe to continue his theoretical research, he will teach an undergraduate physics course and graduate seminars on arms control at Carnegie-Mellon University. Morel says physicists “add a level of analytic power and honesty and objectivity and debate” to the field. And, he adds, “there is no shortage of jobs for them.”

For others, like particle physicist Harvey Lynch, the fellowship’ provides a pause in an ongoing career. Explains the 48-year-old Lynch, “It’s a subject that has interested me for some time—not only the question of arms control itself, but also what technology is doing to us or for us. An experimental physicist just doesn’t have the time to do anything very constructive on the side” without taking time off. For Lynch, that meant taking a part-time leave from his position at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to write a 90-page technical evaluation of offensive uses of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

The 70 scholars associated with the center—some on campus and some “at large”—represent what Morel calls a “critical mass of people.” Their disciplines range from engineering, physics and medicine to history, religious studies, law, journalism, business and government, and their ranks include several foreign officials. Weekly technical seminars on arms control and security issues foster discussions between fellows and visitors from neighboring institutions such as Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories.

Founded in 1983 by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation, the science fellows program brings three mid-career scientists to Stanford each year. A new Carnegie grant provides $1.35 million over the next three years. Stipends average $40,000 a year for each fellow, plus a travel allowance. The center itself relies on a network of organizations and private donors for its $1 million annual budget.

Range of Opportunities

Although Stanford was the first to establish a mid-career science fellowship program on the topic, there are now several other opportunities for those interested in broadening their knowledge of national security issues.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s grants for “Research and Writing in International Peace and Security” offer individuals “with a proven ability to do creative work” a chance to study at the institution of their choice. Numbering 25 to 30a year, the grants range up to $60,000 for individuals and $100,000 for a team project. MacArthur also offers funding through the Social Science Research Council for dissertation and postdoctoral training and research fellowships in international security studies. “MacArthur has looked quite favorably on people in the hard sciences moving into in- ternational security policy,” noteJames Blight of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

For the past two years the Mac- Arthur Foundation also has funded science, arms control and national security fellowships through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The program brings two mid-career or postdoctoral scientists to Washington for a year of training within the executive or legislative branch of government.

Kennedy School Associate Dean Pete Zimmerman calls his institution’s Center for Science and Inter‘national Affairs “probably the country’s leading academic center on arms control.” The Harvard program represents “a broader swath, cutting across many issue areas, but where science has a central contributing role.”

For college and university faculty who teach or plan to teach an undergraduate course in arms control and security issues, the Sloan Foundation in New York funds one- and two-week summer seminars at three U.S. centers—MIT/ Harvard; the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at the University of California, San Diego; and the University of Miami—and one at the University of Sussex.

Spangenburg and Moser are correspondents for Space World magazine and freelance science writers in the San Francisco area.

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