Approximately 60 participants representing 20 academic institutions from NEA member countries and international organisations and networks met on 23 April 2021 for the first formal meeting conducted under the auspices of NEA’s Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology, and Policy.
The Global Forum on Nuclear Education was established by the NEA in January 2021 in order to provide a platform for co-operation and exchange among academic organisations around the world. The Forum will also enable academic institutions to provide their input into international policy discussions with the objective to generate innovative solutions to complex and emerging issues affecting the nuclear sector.
“The NEA, for most of its 60 years, has been an agency that focuses on bringing together the experts from member country governments, regulatory organisations and laboratories,” noted NEA Director-General William D. Magwood, IV during his opening remarks. “In recent years, we realised we need to be much broader in our deliberations. While we are a governmental framework, we also need to pull in the views of private sector, social and civil society, and the biggest missing component: the academic community.”
The work of the Global Forum on Nuclear Education is led by the Council of Advisors comprising representatives from academic and training institutions in NEA member countries. The Council of Advisors is chaired by Professor Richard K. Lester, Associate Provost of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who highlighted the importance of acting on behalf of future generations during the meeting. “My hope is that as members of this Council we will understand our responsibilities not only to represent our institutions and to collaborate with each other, but also, and most importantly, to advocate for our students – both our current students and those who will come after them,” Lester said.
The meeting built on the dialogues held in 2019 and 2020 during the exploratory stages of this initiative. As such, the Council of Advisors discussed the future directions of the forum and explored potential future working areas. These included: i) achieving gender balance in the nuclear sector, ii) the future of nuclear education, iii) future requirements for the competitiveness of nuclear, and iv) rethinking the relationship between nuclear energy and society. Going forward, the Council will also consider a fifth working area on digital technologies for the nuclear industry.
The NEA Global Forum on Nuclear Education, Science, Technology and Policy complements several other NEA initiatives on education and capacity building in the nuclear sector, including the NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework and International Mentoring Workshops.