Field Building

With the goal to fundamentally transform nuclear weapons policy, Ploughshares started embarking on a field building effort in 2022 to help strengthen the nuclear field.

Ploughshares works with and across different parts of the nuclear field that seek to combat nuclear weapons threats by limiting, reducing the number of, or eliminating nuclear weapons including through arms control, nonproliferation, disarmament, and abolition. This field is inclusive of civil society broadly and includes advocates, impacted communities, thought leaders, activists, academics, funders, and others. It has close connections to other fields, such as conflict resolution, social justice, the environment, and peacebuilding. It is international in scope, though currently much of Ploughshares’ grantmaking and partnership is US- focused.

Ploughshares’ field building efforts are centered on:

  • Providing supportive services to the field;
  • Actively convening and engaging our partners including through new processes and strategic approaches; and
  •  Providing flexible funding that allows organzations to invest in their health and pivot as the policy environment changes

Through this work, we hope to support the field to be:

  • Welcoming and inclusive;
  • Collaborative, instead of competitive;
  • Resourced at a level that facilitates progress and policy wins; and
  • Responsive and adaptive, able to shift together to achieve greater impact.

What is field building:

A field is a set of individuals and organizations working to address a common social issue or problem.

Field building is the activities or investments that drive a field’s progress toward impact at scale. This can include strengthening things such as connectivity, adaptive capacity, the range of capacities the field can deploy, the diversity and composition of the field, the resources supporting the field, and reach into other issue areas/networks. It often also includes aligning around a larger, longer term common agenda; as well as making visible, thoughtfully addressing, and working within power dynamics of the field. For this field, it also means strengthening institutions — from pipeline issues to building healthy work cultures to supporting organizational sustainability.

Field building is not the work of any one organization. Rather, it is advanced through a whole-of-field approach, with coordinated action from a range of individuals and institutions. For Ploughshares, this is an organization-wide effort, which builds on and is centered in our Equity Rises work, and connects closely to our grantmaking strategy.

Field Building Advisory Committee

Ploughshares’ field building work is supported by a Field Building Advisory Committee. This committee is currently made up of nine partners in the field, all of whom come from unique backgrounds and different perspectives. This Advisory Committee will support our work by generating shared insights about the state of the field, what changes are emerging and why, and providing advisory input and feedback to Ploughshares on its field building efforts. This will include analyzing field building initiatives with a critical lens, assessing field building processes, and supporting feedback loops. The results of Advisory Committee discussions will be shared with the broader field, including how Ploughshares is adapting in response. Each advisor will serve for two years, and future opportunities to apply will be shared with the community.

Horizon 2045 Partnership + Nuclear Futures Fellows
In Spring of 2024 Ploughshares and Horizon 2045 (H2045) announced a new partnership built on a long history of collaboration. Ploughshares was a founding funder of N Square, the initiative that grew into Horizon 2045, and this partnership represents a new alliance, where both organizations support each other’s efforts at the frontline of innovation.
The first fruits of our partnership is a fellowship program that builds upon our practice of collaboration and bold action-taking together: the Nuclear Futures Fellowship. Through the Nuclear Futures Fellowship, Horizon 2045 will support an important piece of Ploughshares’ new nuclear field building efforts, co-creating programs and experiences designed to instill long-term thinking, systems thinking, and cross issue awareness and collaboration as foundational field-wide capacities.
The Nuclear Futures Fellowship is designed for emerging and established leaders who want to develop the adaptive leadership practices, tools, and relationships necessary to help the nuclear field succeed in a dramatically changing landscape. This fellowship will help sustain the field’s efforts through present challenges while also creating future opportunities to mitigate the threat of nuclear weapons. With the assistance of Horizon 2045 tools, fellows will investigate levers of change in the nuclear field and use strategic scenarios to explore alternative futures. 
Get to know the first cohort of the Nuclear Futures Fellows here.