Taking the Lead
Dickinson-led program bridges the military-civilian gap
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
August 8, 2013
Interns Zachary Steinborn '12 and Emily David '13 were among the 11 spring interns at the U.S. Army War College's Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) in 2012. Above, they talk with Col. Jim Ruf.
A $400,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant is expanding a Dickinson-led program to help bridge the gap between military and civilian communities. The program fosters long-term educational partnerships among select liberal-arts colleges and military-service academies.
“The idea is to encourage trust and familiarity among future military and civilian leaders by finding practical ways for liberal-arts colleges and nearby service institutions to work together,” says Doug Stuart, professor of political science and international studies, who directs the civilian-military program and is Dickinson’s first holder of an adjunct chair at the War College. “We are building a culture of collaboration that will improve the quality of decision-making in Washington.”
Building on past successes
Dickinson’s leadership role in this project builds on the college’s ongoing efforts to enrich research and coursework in security studies, military science and American policy by pooling academic resources with the nearby U.S. Army War College (USAWC) and other leading service academies. Recent examples include faculty-exchange programs, internships at the USAWC Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, lectures and student-networking opportunities with international officials from the USAWC.
The college institutionalized these efforts in 2002 when it co-established the Gen. Omar N. Bradley Joint Chair in Strategic Leadership. And in 2011, Dickinson received a two-year, $100,000 planning grant from Mellon to take the military-civilian initiative to the national stage.
The need for better communication between the civilian and military communities in post-draft America arises, at least in part, from the relative isolation of the military community, which comprises only approximately one percent of the total population. In April 2011, Dickinson tapped the collective brain-power of 32 educators and administrators from both sides of the divide when it hosted the first planning meeting for the military-civilian project. The following institutions attended:
- Bard College,
- Colorado College,
- Dickinson College,
- St. John's College,
- Union College,
- U.S. Air Force Academy,
- U.S. Army War College,
Military Academy at West Point,
- U.S. Naval Acdemy and
- Vassar College.
Several forums followed, and by the close of the two-year planning phase,
Washington & Lee, the Virginia Military Institute and Brown University had
joined the project, and initial faculty exchanges and student-faculty programs had emerged at participating institutions nationwide. Project
participants also convened at an international conference for the study of
political science, security and arms control and developed a model syllabus for
a senior-level seminar on U.S. strategy.
According to Stuart, the most recent Mellon grant, awarded
last June, will take the military-civilian initiative to the next level by
expanding programming and building the infrastructure to support long-term
engagement. Information-sharing platforms, such as video conferences and a military-civilian
Wiki created by Associate Professor of Political Science Andy Wolff, facilitate joint student-faculty research. Outreach projects, meanwhile, deepen the pool of knowledge while strengthening
Plans also are in the works to bring students and educators
from participating institutions together next year for a civilian-military decision-making simulation
that delves into issues relating to national and international diplomacy,
politics, ethics and policy.
“We have excellent momentum and we want to build
on that,” Stuart says. “There’s a lot of good work ahead, and
Dickinson is taking the lead.”