Steven Hoffman, professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota, USA) was in Minsk for an academic visit this March. On March 23, Professor Hoffman participated in an international seminar "Belarus - United States: in anticipation of change", organized by the Foreign Policy and Security Research Center.
It is not the first time in Minsk ...
Steven Hoffman: I'm here for the second time. I like that there is a lot of open space and greenery, such as Gorky Park. I also like the use of public transport. In Minnesota, where I live, we depend heavily upon personal cars, which heavily pollute the air. I also found the Opera and Ballet Theater quite exciting.
Many countries, wishing to ensure its energy independence, are proposing the construction of new nuclear power plants. And how do you feel about the construction of nuclear power plants?
Steven Hoffman: I am fundamentally opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power plants, including in the United States. First, it's expensive: 8-17 billion dollars with price increases expected during the construction period. It is better to invest money in a variety of strategies, including the development of renewable energy systems. Second, at present time, there is the problem of nuclear waste for which no country has found a solution. Our children would be compelled to decide this problem.
So, where from should countries get energy?
Steven Hoffman: There need to be programs for the short-term, medium-term and long-term period. For instance, a long-term energy solution would be the continued development of transit, or public transportation systems. Such an option could be very user-friendly, would solve automobile-based congestion, would release the country from dependence upon foreign oil, and would help ease the problem of global climate change.
How would you rate the level of the Belarusian experts?
Steven Hoffman: Conferences, such as one organized by Foreign Policy and Security Research Center, allow foreign scientists to learn more about Belarus. It has a very complicated situation because it has to cooperate with Russia and the EU at the same time while establishing its own identity. I also gained a deeper understanding of the region.