Conference Program

85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky

Title: Staff Riding in the Twenty-First Century: A Need for Pedagogical Change?
Abstract: The historical staff ride has for over a century been lauded as a preferred, if not exclusive, pedagogical tool in the education of military professionals. Most current rides conducted by Professional Military Education (PME) institutions adhere to one of two methodological approaches: the character-driven (or role-player) ride and that which adopts the "Socratic dialogue" method. Each has its devotees within the PME establishment, and each offers advantages in its approach. Yet, since the dawn of the twenty-first century, criticism of staff riding has emerged to challenge these exercises' utility.
The roundtable "Staff Riding in the Twenty-First Century: A Need for Pedagogical Change?" acknowledges the merits of existing methods, yet it places its emphasis upon exploring alternate ways to execute the present and future ride. Interestingly, it does not favor an abandonment of past practices in toto. Indeed, it encourages the military schoolhouse to return to the intellectual spirit of staff riding as informed by the Clausewitzean concept of re-enactment?the insertion of the student in the place of an historical actor, without prejudice of what actually occurred?as a means better to execute PME's mission of developing critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers.
The Marine Corps Command and Staff College's (CSC) Christopher Stowe will discuss historical antecedents and traditional pedagogical methods, while Bradford Wineman will detail CSC's continuing efforts to implement the operational decision-gaming as part of its staff-ride curriculum. Charles Bowery Jr., the U.S. Army's Chief of Military History, will discuss plans to revise the Army's staff-ride doctrine. COL Ty Seidule, History Department Head at the U.S. Military Academy, will in turn discuss West Point's "enhanced staff ride" initiative. Lesley Gordon, the University of Alabama's Summersell Chair of Southern History, will direct the roundtable in its discussion, offering cogent commentary and soliciting active participation from the audience.
Christopher Stowe, Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University
Lesley Gordon, The University of Alabama
Charles Bowery, U.S. Army Center of Military History
Ty Seidule, United States Military Academy
Bradford Wineman, Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University

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