Reflections on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident

pp 387-402

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Engineers, Social Scientists, and Nuclear Power

A Narrative from Within
  • Cathryn CarsonAffiliated withDepartment of History, University of California, Berkeley Email author 


The PAGES collaboration (University of Tokyo and University of California, Berkeley) brought together nuclear engineers and social scientists to try out new ways of engaging engineering graduate students with societal issues around nuclear power. The program was built around seminars and summer schools. Because of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, it ended up culminating in a weeklong program for students in summer 2011 to examine the Fukushima Daiichi accident as a socio-technical catastrophe and an invitation to rethink nuclear engineers’ possible roles in a post-Fukushima world. This chapter reflects on the PAGES collaboration and the Fukushima Daiichi summer school from the perspective of one of the social scientists involved. It narrates the experience of collaborating across disciplinary boundaries at a moment of challenge and in a space where social science is not well anchored to start. Out of this narrative, the chapter aims to draw some potentially generalizable suggestions for social scientists who are trying to engage engineers and graduate students, given the constraints of time, attention, and trust.


Nuclear engineering Social science Methodology Collaboration Engineering education Graduate education Nuclear waste management Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident