Professor, Students Led Nuclear Security Writing Workshop for African Scientists, Policy Makers

Left to right: Ayoade Kuye, director of the Center for Nuclear Energy Studies at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria; Russ Hirst, director of technical communication concentration in the UT Department of English and editor of the International Journal of Nuclear Security; Grace Rotz, undergraduate student of English and intern leader for the journal; and Hubert Foy, director of the African Centre for Science and International Security

Left to right: Ayoade Kuye, director of the Center for Nuclear Energy Studies at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria; Russ Hirst, director of technical communication concentration in the UT Department of English and editor of the International Journal of Nuclear Security; Grace Rotz, undergraduate student of English and intern leader for the journal; and Hubert Foy, director of the African Centre for Science and International Security

A faculty member and three students recently led a writing workshop for African nuclear engineers, scientists, and policy makers.

Russ Hirst, an associate professor of English, and three students traveled to Accra, Ghana in April at the invitation of the African Centre for Science and International Security (AFRICSIS).

Prior to the trip, the UT team consulted with Hubert Foy, the director of AFRICSIS, about the most pressing communication issues facing African scientists and engineers. They learned that the biggest challenge is persuading ministry officials, legislators, journalists, and the public to better support the development and security of programs for the peaceful use of nuclear power in their respective countries.

Focusing on this goal of persuasion, the team created the curriculum and later delivered the workshop in Ghana. Hirst also gave a presentation about writing scholarly articles in nuclear security.

Hirst is managing editor of the International Journal of Nuclear Security, a new journal sponsored by the UT Institute for Nuclear Security and the UT Department of English. Both entities sponsored the Ghana trip.

The team included three students of English—undergraduate student Grace Rotz, master’s student Katie Williams, and doctoral student Richard Hermes.

About thirty engineers, scientists, and policy makers from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and other African countries attended the two-day workshop. The program was so successful that AFRICSIS director Foy has asked the team to consider delivering another workshop next year.  He wants to expand such writing instruction to all Sub-Saharan African nations—reaching scientists, policy makers, government representatives, diplomats, parliamentarians, security forces, journalists, and university educators. Foy called the UT workshop “an excellent and rewarding first-ever persuasive writing course in the field of nuclear security in Africa.”

Hirst invited program participants to submit papers to the International Journal of Nuclear Security. Publication of African scientists’ and policy makers’ work in nuclear security journals could be key in garnering the support and funding needed to expand research and contributions to their national economies and educational systems.

The workshop “was very well received,” Hirst said. “Some attendees were emotional as we finished up and prepared to leave them, because, they said, what we’d presented, and the opportunity to be published in an international journal such as IJNS, meant so much to them.”

He added that the workshop provided “a rich venue for my research about international communication in nuclear security, a profound professional experience for my students, and a significant contribution to worldwide instruction connected to nuclear security.”

CONTACT:

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)