Wilmington College’s Westheimer Peace Symposium has always prided itself as being international in its scope of presenters, topics and concerns. This fall, the 30th annual event will be available for a global audience with exclusively online programming Oct. 1-2. It will be held virtually while highlighting “The Nuclear Threat: Past, Present, Future.”
The two-day symposium will commemorate the recent 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through a collaboration between the Peace Resource Center, which houses an extensive, internationally recognized archive of atomic bombing materials, and artistic presentations on the topic through The Response Project.
The program is open to the public via Facebook livestreaming on the Peace Resource Center and Wilmington College Facebook pages. However, a series of special concurrent workshops on both days require preregistration for availability on Zoom. Due to participation limits, advance registration is required for the general public. Sign up began Sept. 15.
The Peace Symposium opens Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. with opening remarks from Mary Westheimer, daughter of founding benefactors Charles and May Westheimer, and Tanya Maus, director of the Peace Resource Center (PRC) and Quaker Heritage Center (QHC). The morning’s keynote address will follow as Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, will speak on “People of New Mexico Who Were Negatively Impacted by the Trinity Nuclear Test.”
What then transpires are three concurrent workshops, from 11:20 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., requiring advance registration. Programs include Dr. Russell Kincaid, professor of mathematics and physics at WC, providing insight into the Manhattan Project with Dr. Bonnie Erwin, associate professor of English, presenting survivors’ accounts of the atomic bombings. Rumi Hanagaki and Toshiko Tanigawa will share their experiences of wartime Japan, while the third session will feature Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, who will speak on the circumstances that led to Japan attacking the American naval base at Pearl Harbor.
Available for all viewers with registration not required is a fourth workshop, from 11:20 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., where David Richardson, a professor with the University of North Carolina’s Dept. of Epidemiology, will speak on “Radiation and Cancer: From the Manhattan Project to Today.” This lecture will include observations on the health and mortality of persons involved in the nuclear weapons complex.
The afternoon will feature a plenary session open to all with Susan Southard presenting a program from 1:50 to 2:30 p.m. titled “Beneath the Mushroom Cloud: Life after Nuclear War.” Using historic and contemporary photographs and survivors’ personal stories, she will take her audience on a journey of post-nuclear survival and how their stories should impact nuclear politics today.
From 2:40 to 4:10 p.m., four additional concurrent workshops will be held for which registration is required. Carlos Umana, M.D., a member of the Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, will present “The Dimensions of the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: An Evidence-based Approach to Campaigning and Policy-making.” Also, Yuki Miyamoto, associate professor of religious studies at DePaul University, will present a workshop titled “Beginning Our Conversation with Our Knowledge of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
Also, Susan Southard will present a second workshop, “Writing as Healing: A Creative Writing Workshop,” and Mitchie Takeuchi will speak from personal experience when presenting “Growing into Hiroshima: A Story of Second Generation Hibakusha (atomic bombing sufferer).”
During that same period, Tanya Maus, director of the College’s PRC and QHC will present a plenary program open to all, “The Archives of Knowledge and Action: Introducing the Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College and the Barbara Reynolds Memorial Archives.”
An especially unique component of this year’s symposium is the Response Project from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and open to all. The Response Project is a multidisciplinary fine arts endeavor that draws together seven artists from across the United States to produce original artistic works in response to the PRC’s Barbara Reynolds Memorial Collection. They range from filmmaker Brian L. Frye and poet Elin o’Hara Slavick to WC’s own art professor Hal Shunk. After viewing the collection, the seven have created responses using their preferred artistic genre. Different artists will be featured during both days’ programming.
Visit the websites for details on day two.
Submitted by Randall Sarvis, senior director of public relations, Wilmington College.