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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs


Northwestern Buffett is committed to amplifying scholarship and thought leadership focused on the most pressing global challenges of our time. Learn more about our Digital Publications below.

Living With Plagues: New Narratives for a World in Distress

Day by day it becomes increasingly clear that COVID-19 will have wrought lasting changes in our common sense understandings of “how the world works” and “our place in it.” All attempts to project how society, politics, and economic life might evolve must begin with our efforts, as singularities, embedded in linguistic and social-political communities, to formulate in words our experiences – plural – of the pandemic, and of the hopes and fears those experiences have generated. The Buffett Institute, with the French Interdisciplinary Group, has inaugurated, in collaboration with Northwestern’s partner university, the École Normale Supérieure of Paris, France, a cross-border, cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural, and cross-generational exchange of experiences, of thoughts about those experiences, and of theoretical exploration of those thoughts, as expressed by present and past doctoral students and faculty of the two institutions. 


Nuclear Disaster Compensation: A Call for Action

Nuclear energy provides 10 percent of electricity worldwide, a percentage that is likely to increase as nation states work to fuel growing economies while limiting the devastating environmental effects of carbon-based energy sources. Yet, on the tenth anniversary of Japan's devastating earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident, we are reminded that nuclear energy imposes unique risks and burdens on citizens. Across three major disasters—Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima in 2011—those affected by nuclear reactor meltdowns have been forced to navigate complicated administrative and legal processes in an attempt to rebuild their lives and communities. Taxpayers and ratepayers, meanwhile, have borne many of the financial burdens of these disasters. These are important issues that deserve to be addressed in a more intentional way, but often recede into the background given the rarity of nuclear accidents and stigma attached to planning for them. This report shows that current compensation plans have not met the needs of nuclear disaster victims, and calls for a more inclusive process for making nuclear energy decisions that gives ordinary citizens a seat at the table.