Worlds Colliding

Collisions. This isn’t just the name of a poignant virtual reality film about nuclear testing in Australia that you should see. This is what happened in Santa Fe, New Mexico at this month’s “Disruptive Futures” Santa Fe Nuclear Weapons Summit.

The first-of-its-kind summit was a cross-sector collision between partners NTI, Creative Santa Fe, NSquare Collaborative and Pop Tech which brought together over 40 next-generation leaders with backgrounds in the military, the sciences, technology, policy, business, and the arts over four days of meetings, lectures, and tours. Through a series of innovative and unusual presentations and outings, the summit aimed to foster collaboration among leaders from these sectors, build awareness of nuclear dangers, and reframe narratives on nuclear weapons through new ideas and innovative thinking.

It was not your typical Capitol Hill or Washington think-tank briefing, that’s for sure.

The first worlds to collide were those of former Secretary of State Dr. William J. Perry and Eric Schlosser, author of the terrifying yet riveting book, Command and Control, which was made into a film that’s now an entry in the Oscars race. The pair opened the summit in conversation at Santa Fe’s historic Lensic Theater, tracing Dr. Perry’s time in government working on nuclear issues and taking an alarming stroll through his own “nuclear nightmare”-- the threat that terrorists could acquire a nuclear weapon and destroy a city.

Dr. William J. Perry in conversation with Eric Schlosser

The rest of the immersive four-day event was designed for the nuclear past, present, and future to collide, sparking innovative solutions to today’s vexing nuclear challenges

The journey into the past began with an introduction by Ambassador Robert Gallucci to 20th century concepts like deterrence -- the perception that nuclear weapons provide strategic stability through credible threat of retaliation -- which have shaped where we are today. This was followed by a dive into the scientific history of the atom bomb at its birthplace, Los Alamos Laboratories, just 35 miles outside of Santa Fe.

NTI Executive Vice President Deborah Rosenblum and the Heritage Foundation’s Michaela Dodge then led participants on a journey navigating present nuclear dangers and geopolitical challenges, such as regional tensions, nuclear modernization programs, threats of terrorism, and the fallibility of technology. This was underscored by a discussion between systems and cyber experts Chris Diehl of the Data Guild and Symantec’s Eric Chien about the vast array of cyber security threats that are changing the nature of the battlefield, themes that arise in the documentary Zero Days.

NSquare Collaborative Director Erika Gregory asked participants to envision themselves in the present on a bridge between the past and the future. The challenge: how might we achieve stability by the year 2045, with or without nuclear weapons, and what does this look like?  

Partners from the Rhode Island School of Design demonstrated how design can help reframe an issue, and participants were asked to design a scenario for the future and tell its story in front of a public audience at the summit’s closing session on Wednesday December 7th at Santa Fe’s Violet Crown Theater.

Santa Fe Presentations

Woven throughout the summit were the discussions about the unique and innovative initiatives that many summit participants are working on, and they look to the future and develop tools to help reframe perspectives on nuclear weapons and other global challenges. The summit also was laced with recognition of the local perspective and culture through storytelling and experience. This is significant because the city of Santa Fe and state of New Mexico has played a unique role in the past and present of nuclear weapons. Through these worlds colliding today, the hope is that diverse group of emerging thought leaders and organizations will apply what they learned in Santa Fe to their own networks and communities, and continue to play a role addressing the challenges of the future.

  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Ambassador Robert Gallucci setting context of deterrence and nuclear dangers
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Collisions Virtual Reality Film
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: reading up on present nuclear challenges
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Cyber experts Chris Diehl and Eric Chien
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Graphic Recording of Robert Gallucci
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Graphic Recording of Deborah Rosenblum and Michaela Dodge
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Graphic Recording of Chris Diehl and Eric Chien
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Graphic Recording of Valerie Plame and Geoffrey West
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Graphic Recording of Tom Weis and Morgan Matthews
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Graphic Recording of Future Trends
  • Santa Fe Disruptive Futures: Bill Miller (Creative Santa Fe), Erika Gregory (NSquare), Cyndi Conn (Creative Santa Fe), Valerie Plame, Deborah Rosenblum (NTI), Dr. William
December 21, 2016
Rachel Staley Grant
Rachel Staley Grant

Director of Public Education

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