The Nuclear Age4 units
Evan A. Feigenbaum
Nuclear weapons are at once terrible and fascinating. They have engaged some of the greatest scientific and political figures of our time-Einstein, Fermi, Heisenberg, Bohr, Roosevelt, Mao, and de Gaulle. The history of their development is an exciting tale of discovery and adventure. Yet the advent of the nuclear age echoed humanity's most dramatic ancient prophecies of planetary doom. This course confronts some of these contradictions by surveying the origins, development, and consequences of the nuclear arms race. The course draws on debates in political science, economics, sociology, the history of science, and diplomatic history. Topics are grouped into five main sections: (1) The initial development of nuclear weapons, including relevant science and the US decision for nuclear use on Japan; (2) The early arms race and the Soviet program; (3) The effect of the arms race on state, society, politics, the economy, and science; (4) Strategic debates, arms control, and the course of the Cold War in the 1960s-80s; and (5) Denuclearization and other post-Cold War challenges.
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