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Thursday, December 15, 2022

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  The Humanities' Role in Officer Education  

The Virginia Tech Center for Humanities presents "Vox Humanities Conversations", a series of live-streamed discussions with Faculty Research Associates who will speak about their work. These conversations are free and open to the public and we invite anyone to join the presentation.

Please join us online via our YouTube Live channel on Thursday, December 15th at 2pm for "The Humanities' Role in Officer Education," a discussion between Center for Humanities Director Sylvester Johnson and Rice Center for Leader Development Director Capt. James McGrath.

As we move deeper into the twenty-first century, the pace of technological advancement continues to accelerate. This is especially true in the military, where an ever-increasing push for artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and cyber capabilities dominates the thinking of military planners. With this emphasis on technological advantage comes an unhealthy bias toward the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields in officer education at the expense of liberal arts and humanities. While widespread STEM education appears advantageous for working with the increasingly technical aspects of warfare, it is shortsighted and potentially detrimental to the nation's ability to outthink our opponents. Military leaders at all levels must understand the technology that enables their warfighting systems, but an officer corps made up entirely of technicians limits the military's ability to adapt and apply those technologies in creative ways to overcome our adversaries.

Educating future military officers requires balancing the need for officers with technical literacy with those who have a firm grounding in the humanities even as warfare seems to become more technical. If the services' goal is to have STEM-cognizant officers, the services should provide the specific STEM-related training they seek after commissioning. Allowing prospective officers to pursue degrees in any accredited undergraduate major and requiring minimum STEM and liberal arts prerequisites would result in an intellectually diverse officer corps that can then specialize based on the technical or critical thinking requirements of their chosen career path.

Captain McGrath is the director for the Major General W. Thomas Rice Center for Leader Development. He joined the commandant's staff in 2019 as the deputy commandant of cadets for 3rd Battalion and moved to the Rice Center in October 2021. He holds a master's degrees in national security and strategic studies with distinction from the Naval War College and military history from Norwich University. He is a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer. He continues to serve the Naval War College as an adjunct professor in the College of Distance Education.

There will be a brief Q & A session with viewers following the conversation. If you wish to participate, please use your Google log in to post your questions or comments to the YouTube chat during the presentation. If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact the Center for Humanities at 540.231.1981 or email at least 10 days before the presentation.
More information...

Location: Virtual
Price: Free
Sponsor: Center for Humanities
Contact: Center for Humanities
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