Academic Staff Ride

Universities begun in the ‘90s to emulate the militaries integrating the visiting on battlefields in their curricula. In academic staff rides students role-play the experiences of politicians, generals, and civilians who were involved in the conflict, providing memorable lessons and case studies in strategy, leadership and decision making. The academic staff ride is aimed primarily at academic departments of international relations and history.

What Is An Academic Staff Ride

  • An academic staff ride is a powerful educational tool for surfacing how tactical, operational, strategic, political, and ethical decisions interact.
  • The key technique used in the academic staff ride is role-play. The students role-play the experiences of politicians, generals, and civilians from both sides involved in the conflict. The actual battlefields help students understand strategic decision- making by getting them into the mindset of historical figures. You don’t have an expert telling you what happened here and why, but instead you are trying to figure things out collectively. A staff ride features a wide array of characters and is not narrowly focused on military decision-making.
  • By placing role-playing participants in the shoes of historical figures, staff rides provide memorable lessons and case studies in strategy, leadership, and decision-making. Although drawn from the history of past conflicts, these lessons are broadly applicable, transcending time and the military frame of reference.

Why Battlefields?

  • Competition. There is no tougher place than a battlefield to enhance leadership quality. In battle the risk is potentially absolute and, as in very teal life situations, there is always someone thinking against you.
  • Pressure. Stress in battle is high; therefore problems of leadership stand out in bold relief. While battle is unique, the leadership challenges it exposes are not, and most mistakes are made whilst under pressure.
  • Time. The environment of combat is normally fast-paced and unpredictable and decision-makers invariably run out of that luxury called ‘time’. With today’s interconnected global environment increasingly relying upon the quality of data to deliver more accurate information which consolidates decisions, ultimately, success relies upon the speed of that decision-making process.
  • Experiential Learning. This triggers intrigue, emotion, and innovation through wider and deeper thinking and on the very ground where the history is unveiled. Experiences are very memorable.

What we Do

We offer a variety of staff rides, all of which showcase vivid and profoundly impressive lessons from history. Our battlefield-based training sessions vary from two days to three weeks in length and utilize classroom and great battlefields as intensive case studies; as a basis for examining and learning about contemporary challenges. Some of our most important programs are:

Persian Wars: Clash of Cultures – West Encounters East

This program will offer an introduction to the culture of both Greece and Persia and consider the way that contact between Greece and Persia came to symbolize something much greater, a clash between East and West. The united Greek city-states succeeded in defeating the Persians, thus enabling the Greek culture and Western civilization to survive and flourish. Major themes include:

  • The strategic context in the Near and Middle East in the early 5th century BC
  • Persian Empire, society and culture
  • Greek city-states and the emergence of hoplite warfare
  • The rise of democracy in Athens
  • Greek religion, death and burial
  • Persian and Greek strategies and the conduct of war
  • War and technology: soldiers and armor
  • Commemorating war: monuments and festivals
  • The impact of wars in Classical Greek culture
  • War in art (literature, sculpture and painting)
  • Modern reception of Persian Wars in films

Peloponnesian War: Thucydides for Contemporary Issues

Despite having written almost 2,500 years ago, Thucydides had much to say about politics, democracy, revolution and war that remain remarkably relevant to this day. It is fashionable today to refer to a “Thucydides Trap” in describing contemporary relations between the U.S. and China—but what we do is exploring continuity and change across what Thucydides identified as the timeless wellsprings of human behavior – honor, interest and fear – in order to enhance our understanding of contemporary politics. Major themes include:

  • Athenian democracy and imperialism after the Persian Wars
  • Spartan social structure and political organization
  • The balance of power and the causes of war
  • Strategies in Archidamian War
  • The Sicilian Expedition: A case study in overextension
  • Civil-military relations, ancient and modern
  • Managing state resources for war
  • Land power versus naval power: a comparison
  • Comparative analysis of ancient Sparta and modern China as naval powers
  • The changing character of war: from phalanx battles to total war

Greece in Fourth Century BC

Although 5th century Greece is more famous for its achievements, Classical Greece continued well into 4th century. This century saw the fall of Sparta, the rise and fall of Theban Hegemony and the definitive rise of Macedon as the uniting power of Greece. Major themes include:

  • Greek city-states after the Peloponnesian War
  • The balance of power in early 4th century Greece
  • Epaminondas and the rise of Thebes
  • The fall of Thebes after Mantinea
  • Macedonian state and society
  • Philip’s II political and military reforms
  • The education of a Great Captain: Alexander the Great
  • Greek culture in 4th century BC

Classical Greece 490-336 BC: War, Society and Culture

This module covers and integrates all the above mentioned units in a single unity, requiring more time, but providing a comprehensive overview of Classical Greece.

Great Political and Military Leaders: Lessons for Today

This module approaches the question of leadership through analogies drawing from the actions of ancient leaders, offering an entirely new perspective. The historical background allows us to note how they responded to very different situations, and how temperament, intelligence, experience, daring and advice came into play as they dealt with really pressing problems.

The methods the ancients used to implement their decisions are equally instructive, since they illustrate the advantages and disadvantages that inevitably confront leaders of today. Leaders and themes include:

  • Taking the initiative: Miltiades at Marathon
  • Envisaging the future: the strategy of Themistocles
  • The virtue of integrity: the political supremacy of Pericles
  • Risking the innovation: Epaminondas at Leuctra
  • Taking decisive action: Alexander at Chaeronea