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Chair: Dr Amanda Chisholm, Senior Lecturer in Security Studies / Researcher in Gender and Security
Speaker: Dr Zenobia Homan, Project Coordinator and Research Fellow at the Centre for Science and Security Studies in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.
Discussant: Professor Wyn Bowen, Head of the School of Security Studies, King's College London.
Nuclear language has been described as “our society’s largest conscious attempt to communicate across the abyss of deep time”. This dramatic quote refers to the importance of making informed decisions about dangerous materials that will persist for tens of thousands of years into the future.
Nuclear language is highly specialised, with professional standards, phrases and acronyms. Information is often classified, and rarely features in casual conversations. What is more, as nuclear fission is a relatively recent development, present day nuclear language has not yet been thoroughly documented or investigated. We do not know the impact it has on workplace communication, positive or negative, because this has not yet been measured.
In this discussion I will highlight the importance of documenting the cultural background of key nuclear security concepts. In particular, I will explore the impact of native language inclusion and exclusion on work relating to nuclear sources. Many other sectors, such as aviation, can corroborate the fact that effective communication will prevent incidents. Consequently, I argue that a more diverse and inclusive approach to language will benefit research, policy and practice relating to nuclear communication.
Dr Zenobia Homan is a Project Coordinator and Research Fellow at the Centre for Science and Security Studies in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. She organises international professional development courses, workshops and related training on nuclear and radiological security. Dr Homan also conducts research relating to security culture, education and nonproliferation with a particular focus on language and communication. She is the School of Security Studies Research Theme Lead for Science, Technology, Health and Security, and she is a member of the Conflict & Health Research Group as well as Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy.
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