The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism




“Today, the danger of some sort of nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War, and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”

Dr. William Perry wrote these words three years ago, and the danger has only increased. He believes strongly that we must educate ourselves on these dangers; that belief led him to create his first online course, “Living at the Nuclear Brink.” It had a very broad range, from physics to history to politics and diplomacy. He is following up that course with this new self-paced course, which is focused on one particular danger: nuclear terrorism. The course is shorter, and goes into much more detail on this one topic. The course faculty consists of internationally renowned experts, scientists, political activists and scholars; the one thing they share is a strong commitment to the urgency of educating people on this important topic. In some of the sessions, you will also hear students actively participating in the conversation.

This course differs from most online courses in a fundamental way: the goal is not just to provide facts, but to inspire you to take action. You have the power to make a difference, and this course will give you knowledge and hopefully motivation to do so. You can read more about the subject, and find ways to become involved, by visiting the website of the William J. Perry Project:

Course Outline

Week 1: Who Are the Terrorists? What Do They Want? - Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Graham Allison, Dr. Martha Crenshaw

Week 2: What Are the Historical and Contemporary Security Issues with Nuclear Weapons and Materials? - Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Graham Allison, Dr. David Holloway, Valerie Plame Wilson

Week 3: Could a Terrorist Group Make a Nuclear Bomb? If a Terrorist Group Made an Improvised Nuclear Device, Could They Deliver It to One of Our Cities? - Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Stephen Flynn, Dr. Joseph Martz

Week 4: What Would Be the Consequences of an Improvised Nuclear Device's Detonation in a U.S. City? - Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Lynn Eden, Dr. Alex Wellerstein

Week 5: What Has Been Done to Lower the Likelihood of a Nuclear Terror Event, or to Mitigate the Damage if We Experience One? - Dr. William J. Perry, Dr. Graham Allison, Dr. Rachel Bronson, Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Rep. Ellen Tauscher

Course Staff

Dr. William Perry, 19th Secretary of Defense for the United States, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and the Hoover Institution, Director of the Preventive Defense Project

Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard’s Kennedy School

Dr. Rachel Bronson, Executive Director and Publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Dr. Martha Crenshaw, Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and Freeman Spogli Institute, Professor of Political Science by courtesy

Dr. Lynn Eden, Senior Research Scholar Emerita, Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation

Dr. Stephen Flynn, Professor of Political Science and Founding Director of the Global Resilience Institute, Northeastern University

Dr. David Holloway, Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History, Professor of Political Science, and Freeman Spogli Institute Senior Fellow, Stanford University

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Dr. Joseph Martz, physicist and 35-year employee, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Ellen O’Kane Tauscher represented California’s 10th Congressional District in the East Bay of San Francisco for seven terms from 1997-2009

Dr. Alex Wellerstein, Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS) in the College of Arts and Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology

Valerie Plame Wilson, former career covert CIA operations officer

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Delivery Option:
Online Course Free

This course may not currently be available to learners in some states and territories.