Harris School to house Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists upon its return to UChicago

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving its headquarters to the Harris School of Public Policy Studies from its current downtown Chicago location as of Sept. 30.

Always an independent entity, the Bulletin nonetheless has had deep ties to the University of Chicago since its founding in 1945 by UChicago-based Manhattan Project scientists Eugene Rabinowitch and Hyman Goldsmith. It was located on campus for more than 60 years before it moved to the Loop in 2007.

Originally, the founders devoted the publication to their concerns about the implications of atomic technology. However, it expanded its scope through the years to help inform the world about everything from weapons of mass destruction and international security issues to the arms trade, the nuclear industry, and climate change.

"The Harris School's educational mission is to train the world's future policy leaders. The Bulletin's outstanding capability in communicating complex material to a general audience complements our expertise in policy analysis and evaluation," said Colm O'Muircheartaigh, dean of the Harris School. "The association is particularly timely as the Harris School expands its capacity in science and energy policy."

Kennette Benedict, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin, said that while the publication will maintain its editorial and financial independence, the benefits of being located at the Harris School range from having more direct access to faculty research to helping train students to translate analytic work for a broader audience, a Bulletin expertise. Benedict has been asked to teach a course on nuclear policy at the Harris School in the fall.

"We will be at the heart of a new energy initiative at the Harris School and will be able to draw on the faculty in a more direct way on energy policy and climate change, an area we would like to go further into," said Benedict. "Our mission has always been education, so it will also be great having much more access to the graduate students at the Harris School and to undergraduates as we become more visible on campus."

Benedict credited Thomas Rosenbaum, Provost, and Robert Rosner, Professor in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics and the College, as the "catalytic agents" behind the move. Rosner has been working closely with the Harris School to create the Harris Energy Policy Institute. With the Harris School's growing interest in energy policy and the Bulletin's interest in educating the public on nuclear energy, proliferation and global warming, it was an obvious fit to him.

"The University's mission is to train people and to discover things. One of our challenges is that the pathway of taking new ideas into the public domain where these things can really have an effect is - for us - often a very long, bumpy road," said Rosner. "The Bulletin's experience and expertise is exactly the opposite. Their mission is to inform and to have an effect in the public forum; and their efforts along these lines have been singularly effective."

The Bulletin is known, along with its coverage of nuclear issues, for its Doomsday Clock, which signals how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction from nuclear weapons, climate change or bioengineered pathogens. It is currently set at six minutes to midnight, reflecting signs of recent progress along with a state of lingering concern.

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