Policy Analysis: The Future of Nuclear Energy

WWS 594q – Half Term Course
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Princeton University, Spring 2014

Tuesdays, 7:00-10:00 p.m., Robertson Hall 010

Interest is growing worldwide in nuclear energy as a low-carbon energy source that could help limit climate change. But nuclear energy is not just another energy source; it can facilitate the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the national prestige that has become attached to nuclear energy programs at times trumps the economics and energy-security arguments that shape energy policy. At the same time, the 2011 Fukushima accidents have brought the risk of catastrophic accidents back to the center of the debate on the benefits and risks of the technology. In many parts of the world, public opinion on nuclear energy remains highly volatile, partly due to concerns about nuclear reactor accidents and radioactive waste disposal.

This course will explore current debates about nuclear energy and assess the short-term and long-term prospects of nuclear power, both domestically and internationally. We will briefly review the basic science and technology and current uses of nuclear energy, looking in particular at its economics and arrangements to prevent its use for weapons purposes. We also will analyze various policy proposals to facilitate the safe and rapid global expansion of nuclear energy.