From a Culture of War to a Culture of Peace: A Forum on Nuclear Disarmament Education


WHAT: A forum bringing scholars, students, educators, and nuclear disarmament advocates together for a discussion on the critical need for nuclear disarmament education at all levels of learning as well as to explore what potential curriculum and resources would advance that goal.

WHO: Greater Boston area scholars, students, and educators

WHERE: Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA (Address to be announced)

WHEN: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Friday, May 10th (breakfast & lunch included)

WITH: Dr. Bonnie Docherty of Harvard Law School, Dr. Meira Levinson of Harvard Graduate School of Education, Dr. Elaine Scarry of Harvard College, Professor Alexander Harang of Soka University of America, and Dr. Ira Helfand from the International Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Organized by the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue

“I have continued to maintain that if we are to truly put an end to the era of nuclear weapons we must struggle against the real enemy, which is neither nuclear weapons per se nor the states that possess or develop them, but rather the ways of thinking that permit the existence of such weapons—the readiness to annihilate others when they are perceived to be a threat or a hindrance to the realization of our objectives.” —Daisaku Ikeda (2019 peace proposal, “Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach”)


Purpose of Forum 

The purpose of this forum is to build solidarity among Boston area teachers, educators, and students toward advancing disarmament education. Through a dialogue with leading scholars and thinkers in the field of education and nuclear abolition, as well as through small group workshops and reflections from youth, the forum aims to explore and imagine new possibilities and curricula for disarmament education.  

Forum Agenda

  • Introduction
  • Video Message from Students for Nuclear Disarmament
  • Panel Discussion
  • Small Group Workshop
  • Closing Reflections


Bonnie Docherty is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) and Director of its Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative. She is also senior arms advisor at Human Rights Watch. Docherty has done extensive work in the field of humanitarian disarmament as a lawyer, field researcher, and scholar. She played a key role in the negotiations of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, providing legal advice to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. She was deeply involved in the negotiations of the 2022 political declaration on explosive weapons in populated areas and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. She continues to work on the implementation of these instruments. Docherty’s many publications have helped shaped civil society arguments for a new treaty on autonomous weapons systems, and she has spearheaded efforts to strengthen international law on incendiary weapons. In addition to disarmament and other civilian protection issues, Docherty has expertise in the field of human rights and the environment. She has developed principles for addressing the environmental impacts of armed conflict, examined the effects of mining on disadvantaged and indigenous communities, and written about the problem of climate change migration. Docherty received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her A.B. from Harvard University. Docherty worked full-time at Human Rights Watch before joining IHRC in 2005. Prior to law school, she spent three years as a journalist.

Alexander Harang is Distinguished Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Soka Institute for Global Solutions at the Soka University of America (SUA). Bringing more than two decades of leadership experience from the international peace movement, as well as research and teaching experience from peace academia, Professor Harang has a special focus on developing our identity as a peace university at SUA. He is responsible for teaching Core 100, Learning Cluster and Peace Philosophy at SUA. Harang also advises the Nuclear Abolition Project at the Soka Institute for Global Solutions, and organizes the annual Nobel Seminar at SUA.

Ira Helfand, MD, is a member of the International Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. He is also immediate past president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the founding partner of ICAN and itself the recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He is also co-founder and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, IPPNW’s US affiliate. He has published studies on the medical consequences of nuclear war in the world’s leading medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, the Lancet, and the World Medical Journal, and has lectured widely in the United States, and in India, China, Japan, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Israel, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, and throughout Europe on the health effects of nuclear weapons.

Meira Levinson is a normative political philosopher who works at the intersection of civic education, youth empowerment, racial justice, and educational ethics. In doing so, she draws upon scholarship from multiple disciplines as well as her eight years of experience teaching in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools. She is currently working to start a global field of educational ethics, modeled in some ways after bioethics, that is philosophically rigorous, disciplinarily and experientially inclusive, and both relevant to and informed by educational policy and practice. Levinson’s work in this area has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center of Ethics, and the Spencer Foundation. Since the onslaught of the global novel coronavirus pandemic, Levinson has been focused on expanding educational ethics to address the multitude of ethical challenges posed by school closures, remote schooling, and uncertain reopenings. In collaboration with colleagues, she has co-authored The Path to Zero and Schools: Achieving Pandemic-Resilient Teaching and Learning Spaces policy guidance, a New England Journal of Medicine article on Reopening Primary Schools in a Pandemic, and two additional white papers. She has also been leading global teacher discussion groups on the ethical challenges they face.

Elaine Scarry is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University since 1997. Prior to her work at Harvard University, she served as the William T. Fitts, Jr. Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Her interests include beauty and its relation to justice, Mental, verbal, and material creation, Citizenship and consent, the language of physical pain, 19th-Century British Novel, and lastly 20th-Century Drama. Her publications include Naming Thy Name (2016); Thermonuclear Monarchy (2014), Thinking in an Emergency (2011), Rule of Law, Misrule of Men (2010), Who Defended the Country? (2003), On Beauty and Being Just (1999), Dreaming by the Book (1999), Resisting Representation (1994), The Body in Pain (1985). She is the recipient of the Mendelsohn Award, Truman Capote Award, Levenson Award and is a member of the American Philosophical Society.