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American Academy of Arts and Sciences Paper Assesses the Future of Nuclear Power in a Changing World


Press Release

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, most countries that use nuclear power are undertaking major reviews of reactor safety and emergency preparedness. But are conventional planning strategies sufficient? A new American Academy of Arts and Sciences paper, Game Changers for Nuclear Energy, examines scenarios for nuclear power that take into account potential game changers such as new technology, new customers and suppliers, accidents, nuclear terrorism, and climate change policy. The paper is available online at

Because decisions made now will affect the energy sector for decades, it is critical to assess the role of nuclear power in the overall energy mix. According to the paper’s authors, “The public perception of nuclear power has changed and continues to change. Once viewed as a miracle of modern technology, nuclear power came to be perceived by many as a potential catastrophe; now it is viewed as a potential, albeit potentially still dangerous, source of green power.” This evolving interaction between public perception and energy policies is just one of the potential game changers discussed in the volume.

The paper, authored by Kate Marvel and Michael May, is based in part on a workshop organized by the Academy as part of its Global Nuclear Future Initiative. The workshop was held in collaboration with the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford. Marvel is the William J. Perry Fellow in Science and International Security at CISAC. May is Professor Emeritus (Research) in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, where he is also a Senior Fellow with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Members of the Initiative are working with policy-makers in the United States, Middle East, and Asia to advance effective policies and procedures to ensure that the spread of nuclear power does not aggravate, and in fact reduces, concerns over international safety, security, and nonproliferation. Because the Academy is not identified with a particular stance on nuclear questions, yet has a fifty-year-old tradition of work on arms control, it offers a neutral forum for discussing these issues.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences ( is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.


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