University of Dayton Chautauqua Course


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Chautauqua Course DAY-14


The Birthplace and Early History of the Atomic Bomb - - - This course is full and is closed. See September 29 offering at the end of the list.


NOEL HARVEY PUGACH, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of New Mexico, and other speakers


March 31 - April 2, 2016 in and near Albuquerque, NM                                                   Apply: DAY


Note:  This course is based in Albuquerque, NM.  Applications should be sent to the DAY Field Center.  This course has a course fee of $395 (in addition to the $100 application fee), which covers van travel on field trips, and other course-related expenses.  Optional reduced rate lodging will be available to early applicants.


            This course will explore the science, politics and geography behind the creation of the world's first atomic weapons via lectures and field trips.  Although the top-secret Manhattan Project created installations all across the country, the community with the highest profile remained Los Alamos, NM.  On those remote mesas, director J. Robert Oppenheimer led an international team of scientists and engineers to create the weapons that ended the Second World War.  Although the Uranium weapon (Hiroshima) was never field tested before field combat use, scientists insisted on testing what became the Plutonium bomb (Nagasaki), and that test occurred at Trinity Site, NM on July 16, 1945.  After the war Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque became and still is an integral part of the nation's defense system.


            This three-day course will examine the origin and early saga of atomic weapons.  It will consist of formal lectures on the first day, a trip to Los Alamos on the second day, and a visit to Trinity Site on the final day.  Participants will explore the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History (formerly the National Atomic Museum) in Albuquerque and the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, as well as other atomic-related venues.   The course will also examine President Harry Truman’s “decision” to use the bomb on Japan, its effect on the Japanese surrender, and the question of foreign espionage at Los Alamos.



For college teachers of:  all disciplines.  Prerequisites:  none.



Costs for 2016

Application fee: $100

Course fee: $395 [Due in January 2016]

Optional on-site lodging: around $80 per night for one or two people

We will attempt to find participant roommates for those who ask.



Dr. Pugach is Professor Emeritus in History at the University of New Mexico.   He specializes in US foreign relations and has devoted attention to Truman’s role.   Dr. Pugach has lectured on the decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan and the diplomacy of the bomb in the wider context.   The other speakers are all specialists in early atomic history.



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University of Dayton Chautauqua Course