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Concluding Remarks

This chapter was devoted to nuclear engineering education for the post-Fukushima Daiichi accident era. Prior to education itself, the knowledge and attitudes required of nuclear engineers were discussed with focus on the social aspects of nuclear technology.

First of all, we should clearly recognize that nuclear technology has some intrinsic differences from general technologies, which come from its relation to weapon technology, potential risks of reactor accidents, long-lasting radioactivity of spent fuel, etc. Most of these features require government commitment. Thus, in most countries, nuclear technology has not achieved much social legitimacy, which makes the social context of nuclear technology complex. Consequently, we nuclear engineers are required to communicate with society more thoroughly and more openly than engineers in other technologies. One may feel that this additional requirement for nuclear technology is “unfair,” but we should realize it is an essential characteristic of nuclear technology.

To achieve social legitimacy, mutual communication with society, which includes communication not only with the general public but also with experts in other fields, seems vital. In addition to social legitimacy, it is hoped that mutual communication will foster an introspective attitude in the professional community and will help nuclear technology and the professional community regain public trust. It must be clearly understood that these points are not only needed for smooth utilization of nuclear technology, but also, and more importantly, for enhancing the safety of nuclear technology utilization and advancing nuclear technology to provide more benefits and welfare for society.

Finally, I proposed 4 items for education reform, which are mainly designed to make mutual communication with society more effective while maintaining a high level of technical expertise: standardization and internationalization, transparency and sharing, social-scientifi literacy education, and development and evaluation of faculty. These ideas are not necessarily concrete, and may be nothing new. Most universities may already have taken some actions to materialize these ideas. However, what they are doing now is mostly insuffi to fully realize its purpose. If they just think it is needed to do so formally or to make their departments look better to attract the next generation, its aim may have been achieved. However, if the purpose is to acquire social legitimacy, to cultivate an introspective attitude in our community, and to gain trust for nuclear technology and the nuclear professional community, the contents are far from satisfactory and thus should be redesigned and then reconstructed.

Most engineers have been deeply involved in responding to the Fukushima Daiichi accident for the last 3 years. Now should be the time to deeply consider what kind of professionals we want to be and what nuclear engineering education should do to achieve it. I hope that this chapter will stimulate discussion in the nuclear professional community and draw more attention to nuclear engineering education on the part of the general public and experts in other fields.

 
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