Freshman Seminar 152 - Nuclear Princeton: An Indigenous Approach to Science and the Environment

Distribution Area: CD

Instructor: Ryo Morimoto

Course Undergraduate Assistants: Jessica Lambert '22, Keely Toledo '22, Thomas Dayzie '22, Travis Chai Andrade '24


Description: How do we grapple with the lasting, unintended impacts of conducting science, engineering, and medicine in "the nation's service and service of humanity"? What lessons can we learn from the University's past to conduct morally sound research and generate culturally inclusive knowledge? In this course, students will use perspectives from Indigenous studies to critically approach the intersection of Princeton's history, nuclear science, settler colonialism, and environmental racism to collectively imagine a more holistic approach to studying science and the environment. The course revolves around the Nuclear Princeton project.

Course readings touch on interdisciplinary topics: the university’s past and present engagements with nuclear science, engineering, the nuclear arms race, and anti-nuclear movements, along with Indigenous perspectives on land, sovereignty, and indigeneity. Through key primary and secondary source texts, mini-writing assignments, guest lectures, in-class debates, campus tours, and hands-on workshops, students will learn to consider science as integral to and inseparable from the land, abiotic factors, humans and non-humans, and preexisting social, political, and economic structures and hierarchies.

Students play an active role in the course by conducting original research that draws from and contributes to the Nuclear Princeton project. Guided by their academic interests and in collaboration with the undergraduate course assistants, students will:

  1. identify and engage with the university’s digital and physical archival materials
  2. explore university buildings and research facilities, interact with the faculty, staff, and community members
  3. produce digital content for the Nuclear Princeton website to be presented in a public showcase at the end of the semester

Throughout, students will become acquainted with and apply a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including oral history, archival research, ethnography, and cutting-edge Digital Humanities visualization tools.