Building a Path Forward

Building a Path Forward


An In-Person Exhibition

The original goal of our project – and the task which we hope future generations of Princetonians will take up – is advocacy for a physical display of the bombed roof tiles on Princeton University’s campus. Although the tiles have been displayed twice in the past – in 2015, for an exhibit on the 70th anniversary of the bombings, and in 2018, for an exhibit on education and war –, we believe the tiles deserve a display dedicated exclusively to them. From the correspondence between President Shirley Tilghman of Princeton and Mr. Rebun Kayo, Chair of the Association of Hiroshima University for Sending an Atomic Bombed Roof Tile, supplemented with the hopes which Misaki Katayama holds for these artifacts, we have come to believe that it is Princeton’s responsibility to display these artifacts as a continual reminder of our implication in the development of weapons of such mass destruction. We also believe that this will be in the best interest of the university and its students, who will be prompted by such a display to remember that Princeton’s informal motto, “in that nation’s service and the service of humanity,” carries what we learn and develop here beyond these ivy-covered walls. 


We would recommend advocating for a display of the tiles in a location such as Frist Campus Center, which is frequently trafficked by students, faculty, and visitors alike. Other exhibits exist within Frist already, which means that there must be a process for creating such a display. Moreover, the history of Frist Center, which used to be the Palmer Physics Laboratory, and the current housing of the East Asian Studies department within the building, both make this location all the more poignant and thought-provoking to house such a display. A display of the tiles themselves, alongside important documents, such as the correspondence between our universities, would make the messages which they represent more accessible, and, as seen by the artwork in this digital exhibition, would serve as a more affective and effective call to action than any single essay or lecture might hope to do. 




A Continued Relationship With Hiroshima University

Looking forward, we hope to build a relationship with Hiroshima University. Though we were able to contact a Tokyo University graduate student, Misaki Katayama, we still have not been able to initiate contact with anyone from Hiroshima University. Like with Katayama, we hope that this relationship can start at the student-to-student level. This is where friendships can grow as we begin to understand one another and our roles in the international academic community. Then, and only then, can a relationship build upwards on the ladder of administration. Administrative action arising from students’ desires can deepen a foundation of friendship to an “official” relationship, wherein we can answer Hiroshima University’s calls for collaboration in building continued peace. We hope a future relationship can ignite coordination between the universities, perhaps manifesting as annual conferences, highly populated exchange programs, or academic partnerships.




New Princeton Norms

We hope our project can ignite a reconsideration of Princeton University’s standards of academic and social standards. First, we hope to seek an answer to Hiroshima University’s calls for Princeton to take an anti-nuclear attitude as a condition of acceptance of the atomic-bombed tiles. We hope this could look like an institution of a Nuclear Ethics curriculum, particularly for those who study nuclear sciences. A study of nuclear ethics would serve to assist in the responsible use of nuclear technology, considering all harm that can come from its use. This would include a review of historical inhumane mining practices on native reservations, past nuclear testing and its impacts on local populations, and readings from those impacted by the bombing in the second World War.


A second standard we request for consideration is the generation of an “impact acknowledgement.” Somewhat akin to a land acknowledgement, we hope to begin the practice of recognizing the role that Princeton has played in harm done both nationally and internationally throughout its history. An impact acknowledgement should include a recognition of specific wrongs attributable to the university, as well as a statement of commitment to restorative justice and work towards future peace.




Parallel Research

We hope that the research that we have done with the atomic-bombed roof tiles can ignite hope for others to look into the Princeton archives to see what other socio-political materials we may be housing that could perhaps find better homes on campus than in archival storage.