Conference on Nonproliferation and Dual-use Awareness
On 28-30th August STCU and ISTC hosted a conference in Ypres, Belgium. The conference brought together young scientists and participants from 17 countries. Ypres was the site of the first large scale use of chemical weapons during World War I. With this history as a backdrop the participants mulled over questions of responsibility, innovation, technological trajectories and the potential for misuse of scientific and technological developments.
The conference kicked off on Wednesday night when the group attended the Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate, held every night since 1928, followed by the conference dinner.
On Thursday, each participant gave a 6 minute lightning talk on their research and societal implications which served to prime the participants and get to know each other.
In the afternoon the group visited DOVO-Poelkapelle, an explosive ordnance disposal facility that destroys the explosive war legacy, 200 metric tonnes annually, including chemical munitions. The visit concluded with a walk shop, a brain storming exercise whilst walking, in the fields around the facility contemplating the role of scientists.
In the evening the group attended a public lecture by Dr Jean Pascal Zanders. In the grand surroundings of the InFlandersFields Museum, Dr Zanders laid out the historical trends that led to, and enabled, the militarisation of chemistry in WWI and sparked a lively debate.
On the final day the group held discussions on the themes that emerged the previous day and were stimulated to delve deeper into issues of communication by Ana Izar of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs, and challenged to formulate new approaches by Dr Brett Edwards in an invigorating set of group exercises.
The conference concluded in the later afternoon of Friday, 30 August with a good number of participants eager to use the opportunity to formalise networks and elaborate proposals for further work.
The conference was organized by STCU and ISTC, carried out in partnership with the InFlandersFields Museum and funded by the European Union.