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International Relations in Interdisciplinary Professional Military Education: The Norwegian Model

International Relations in Interdisciplinary Professional Military Education: The Norwegian Model International Relations in Interdisciplinary Professional Military Education: The Norwegian Model
To cite this article: Roennfeldt, Carsten F., “International Relations in Interdisciplinary Professional Military Education: The Norwegian Model,” Infinity Journal Special Edition, “International Relations in Professional Military Education,” winter 2016, pages 27-33.

“In 1991 my overriding task as a platoon commander was to defend a crossroads in Norway,” one of my military colleagues said and continued “one which invading troops were expected to use. It was a massive task and exclusively requiring military skills. I was to give the enemy as much resistance as possible and would most likely die in the effort. 13 years later I was in Afghanistan as chief of a company operation centre. Our task was to instil a sense of security in Kabul by neutralising enemy cells living under cover among civilians. To solve this task I liaised with a host of military and civilian actors like the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Afghans, and humanitarian organisations, Norwegians, including top-bureaucrats in the Norwegian Ministry of Defence. It required my traditional military skills but also whatever I had gathered of linguistic, intercultural, political, legal and other skills. It was an entirely different ballgame.”[i]

That officers in the early part of their careers have been faced with such changes to their modus operandi will be obvious to most. What is not obvious, however, is how professional military education shall prepare officers to carry out their duties in such new contexts. The educational choices made will be of crucial importance to the ability of combat leaders on the ground to put into effect strategic plans and further national interests, as argued in the introduction of this special edition. This article aims to clarify the Norwegian Military Academy’s choices on these issues and the reasoning behind them. It does so with a more particular focus on what junior army officers learn, and how they learn it, in the academic field of international relations and the closely related field of political science.

Four debates in the educational sciences have informed the Academy’s choices and shall also frame this article. They are used as points of reference when presenting efforts to increase the relevance and quality of the Academy’s bachelor study programme: Military Studies – Leadership and Land Power. Each debate is here presented as pairs of opposing notions that could be seen as extreme positions on principle lines of controversy:[ii]

  • University versus professional education[iii]
  • Teaching versus learning[iv]
  • Single- versus interdisciplinary educational models[v]
  • Education versus publication.[vi]

The basic argument will be that for the last decade cadets’ formation in political science and international relations has moved in tune with the Academy’s educational reforms from left to right on these lines of debate – i.e. from an emphasis on teaching towards learning, from a single- to an interdisciplinary educational model, and from an emphasis on education towards publications. As a result the disciplines political science and international relations play a more important role today in enhancing junior officers’ professional identity and their understanding of how context influence the utility of military force. Arguably, this model of professional military education will make cadets more capable of fulfilling the role as, what the introduction labels, “strategic actors”.

We commence by presenting major changes to the Norwegian Military Academy’s study programme since 2005, before presenting implications for its political science and international relations’ components. Note that the educational designs are presented in an ideal type manner, not in order to idealise but to better communicate the Academy’s main ideas. Important modifications will be addressed in the concluding section. The effects of the Academy’s education are also discussed along with the difficulties involved in finding relevant parameters to make such evaluations.

Ten years of educational reform

Two reforms have changed the Norwegian Military Academy’s study programme. The Academy is Norway’s oldest institution for higher education and since 1750 an autonomous educational institution within the Army. This changed when the Academy became subject to the national body of law on higher education in 2005. For the purpose of this article two implications should be mentioned. First, a two-year formation of young army officers was transformed to a three-year bachelor degree preparing them primarily for the role as platoon commander and secondly for a life-long military career. Some of these will 15 years further into this career be offered a graduate professional military education of one to two years’ duration at the Norwegian Staff College. Second, the Academy’s instructors, which is the term used for civilians and military educational staff, were tasked to contribute to research and development with academic publications.

In 2012 another reform was implemented. It was driven from within the Academy as an effort to increase the relevance and quality of the education in the face of changing political and operational contexts. A dozen of key figures to the military profession – from battalion commanders to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs – were asked to clarify their expectations to a young army officer.[vii] Against this background the Academy changed its primary educational focus from platoon to company commander and formulated ten objectives that give today’s professional military education direction. Among others, they stipulate that an undergraduate officer shall be able to:

  • explain the rationale, capabilities and limitations of military force
  • make judgments about how different operational contexts influence one’s own operational approach
  • lead and develop oneself and others with conviction in constantly changing operational contexts.[viii]

To meet these objectives the study programme was transformed into eight interdisciplinary subjects, sub-divided into thematic blocks.[ix]

The contribution of political science and international relations

The study programme prior to the 2005 reform may serve as a baseline to clarify what is considered a relevant and high-quality professional military education for army officers today. Until then the political science and international relations component of the officer’s diploma was Norwegian-Security-Policy, a 40 hours single-discipline course. Instructors gave formal lectures to classes of 40 cadets based on a 250 pages syllabus addressing a relatively broad range of topics and using the approach of the Copenhagen School to frame Norway’s relations with major powers and with major intergovernmental security organisations.[x] The format was inspired by a standard university bachelor-level course. The major difference was that cadets had a full timetable of classes eight hours a day in several separate disciplines with homework to be done in the evenings. A written exam concluded the course. However, exam results, formal and informal feedback indicated that cadets had a rather superficial understanding of the issues being taught, few found it nice-to-know competence, while most struggled to understand how these theoretical lectures could help them make better decisions as military leaders. A frequent question was: “What do these theories imply for me?” Instructors’ efforts to introduce it as need-to-know competence stressing the importance of understanding the political ends they were meant to achieve and the political context in which they were to do it, came across as too farfetched to carry conviction.

Gradually, the Academy concluded that an educational design was required that could trigger cadets’ interest in the academic disciplines, give them a deeper understanding of the issues involved and more clearly communicate how they could help cadets to become the military leaders the government and the Norwegian society at large expect them to be.[xi]

In 2005 two courses were developed to meet this shortcoming. An interdisciplinary War-and-Society course introduced cadets to the rationale of the military profession. It focused on the political function of military forces in Western states, the cardinal importance of officers in the establishment of Western states in the early modern era, how war has formed societies and societies formed warfare, and how these overarching changes shaped the role of the military profession. The course was informed by key concepts in political science and international relations, such as state, international system, war, balance of power, collective security, nationalism, ideologies, and related mainstream theories, such as realism, liberalism and The English School. Yet these theoretical ideas were now introduced in an orchestrated and mutually reinforcing manner with military history, war history and military theory. This interdisciplinary approach helped cadets appreciate the bigger picture and it informed their professional self-esteem making them more confident talking with relatives about their professional choice, with people critical to the armed forces, and other related topics. Therefore, the course was commonly referred to as the foundation of the professional military education. A quantitative improvement of the interdisciplinary approach was that political science and international relations, although interdisciplinary, now had cadets’ attention throughout five entire weeks supported by an 800-page syllabus.

To meet the demand of more explicitly linking international relations to tactical military tasks, it was integrated in an interdisciplinary course on peacekeeping and counterinsurgency operations that had a full semester. In addition to the already-mentioned academic subjects of military theory, military history, and war history this course eventually began to include inputs from tactics. The primary focus was on doctrines and operational aspects. However, now cadets also learned about the role of UN mandated military operations within the broader international security architecture of collective security, and how changing political contexts influenced the operational designs and principles of peacekeeping missions. The cases used to illustrate it were the Suez Crises 1956, Lebanon 1978, Bosnia 1992, and eventually Congo 2010.[xii] With Malay 1950 and Afghanistan 2010 cadets were introduced to the political strategy in counterinsurgency, the role of military forces in that context and spurred to link that to the War-and-Society course syllabus.[xiii] Departing from real-life historical tactical tasks at company level cadets developed their own plans and executed them in simple war-games based on, among others, information and ideas gathered from international relations syllabus and lectures. General Rupert Smith’s reminder that there is a difference between what one can do and what one can achieve with military force served as a guiding star throughout the course.[xiv] The learning-by-reading-and-doing approach on successive case studies aimed to instil in cadets a strategic mind-set that could link ends, means and ways along the lines elaborated on in the introductory chapter of this edition.

The latter points to a change in didactic methods from teaching to learning increasingly used at the Norwegian Military Academy since 2005. Deep-learning strategies were introduced to “fix” the problem of cadets’ superficial understandings of academic subjects.[xv] Rather than instructors informing cadets about international relations themes and trying to convince them that the academic insights were directly relevant for them as combat leaders, the table was turned. In seminar groups each cadet was now tasked to convince others, instructors included, how international relations competence was useful to solve a given tactical task in a politically more expedient manner. Hence, the number of formal lectures was reduced and cadet-active learning methods took their place.[xvi] This required giving cadets more time to prepare for seminar groups. As a consequence classes were reduced by 40 per cent to allow study time during the Peacekeeping-and-Counterinsurgency course.

The 2012-reform has taken the pedagogical model described above a step further and applied it more broadly in the bachelor study programme. The internal reform was triggered by the Ministry of Education’s implementation of the European Union’s Qualifications Framework where study programmes had to be described through learning outcomes detailing what students having fulfilled a study programme should know, understand, and be able to do.[xvii] The Academy, which for some time had felt a need to direct better many relatively independent disciplines and activities towards a few common goals, used that framework to develop 10 programme-level learning outcomes. Today, practically all academic and military disciplines are oriented towards the achievement of those outcomes. European credit points are no longer given to individual disciplines but divided between the bachelor degree’s eight interdisciplinary subjects each concluded with one interdisciplinary exam.

This is a radical change from pre-2012 where each discipline had a specified percentage of cadets’ time and syllabus and an opportunity to test cadets in exams. After 2012 disciplines will be included in the interdisciplinary subjects only to the extent the respective instructors can justify to decision makers in the Academy’s Department of Education how their academic inputs contribute to the learning outcomes.

The new approach may be illustrated with an outline of the first semester’s interdisciplinary subject The-Military-Profession made up of three interdisciplinary thematic blocks: The-Officer-and-the-State, The-Officer-and-War, and Civil-Military-Relations. The subject purports to help cadets achieve the already-mentioned learning outcome: Explain the rationale… of military force. It does so largely in line with the reasoning and approach of the pre-2012 War-and-Society course, but it now also includes public international law and ethics and extends to ten succeeding weeks. At the end of the term each cadet clarifies in a written assignment how he or she as an officer foresees to bridge the gap between society’s expectations, the demands of war and his or her own shortcomings, be they academic or physical. The purpose is to enhance their professional identity and to motivate them to learn. To address the first side of the gap they must draw from political science and international relations syllabus introduced during The-Officer-and-the-State. This departs from Buzan’s conception of the state as an idea, institutions and a physical base.[xviii]

The second interdisciplinary subject in which political science and international relations contribute is Leadership-of-Operations beginning from the outset of the second semester. It is divided into the three thematic blocks: Regular-Warfare, Irregular-Warfare and Crisis-Management, each allocated nine, six and one months respectively, and is designed to meet the learning outcomes:

  • explain … the capabilities and limitations of military force
  • make judgments about how different operational contexts influence one’s own operational approach
  • lead … with conviction in constantly changing operational contexts.

To this end the subject largely applies the cadet-active learning method used in the Peacekeeping-and-Counterinsurgency course since 2005. Some 12 case studies have been selected to illustrate a variety of tactical manoeuvres. Reasoning along the lines of Mission Command, the broader context in which a given military unit is to achieve its tactical objectives is explored from different academic disciplines including international relations, history of war, and public international law.[xix] Inspired by the 2005 reform’s take on identified shortcomings – notably the “What do these theories imply for me?”-question – international relations is introduced to help cadets solve specific tactical tasks in a more politically expedient manner.

This may be illustrated by the first major case in the Regular-Warfare thematic block. To learn offensive rifle-company tactics, cadets are given the task of British 2 Para’s attack on Goose Green during the Falklands Campaign 1982, at the face of it a suicidal task. Cadets immediately see the need to learn to fight, which to them reinforces the importance of the disciplines tactics and leadership. To trigger their interest in the bigger picture international relations instructors ask questions like: “Why are you here in the first place?” “How does the Thatcher government foresee to regain control over the Falklands?” and “What is the role of military force in that endeavour?” Such questions move their focus from mere survival to the political dimension of their professional responsibilities.

20 days are set aside to the Falklands case. It commences with eight days and a 300-page syllabus on war history, international relations and public international law, before tactics and leadership get involved.[xx] In international relations cadets use Putnam’s Two-level Games perspective as an analytical tool to understand the domestic and international considerations that shape a government’s foreign policy.[xxi] They identify the dynamics and constraints that guided Britain in the war and gave the political rationale for 2 Para’s offensive at Goose Green. The prisms of realism and liberalism help to unfold Britain’s policy to key international actors and to discuss potentials and limitations of the government’s early decision to use military force as a means to regain control over the Falklands. Britain’s utter dependence on international support is a surprise to cadets, for example that ground troops were unlikely to have reached the Falklands’ shores without the logistical support of the United States and without France’s efforts to reduce the British convoys’ vulnerability to the French-produced Argentine Exocet missiles.

Following from these studies cadets realise that military force was only one, and arguable not the most important, of several means of power the British government used to achieve its short- and long-term goals in the campaign. Different concepts and means of power are introduced to help cadets organise their ideas about how Britain influenced the US, Argentina and other key target groups. In particular, attention is drawn to the Thatcher government’s combined use of diplomacy and military force to achieve its war ends. The attack on Goose Green is presented as a case that is irrational from a military point of view but highly important from a political one; the crucial support from allies was fading and Thatcher desperately needed to win a military battle to convince them that the war would soon be over. Preparing cadets to deal with such dilemmas between operational and political concerns, they are set up for debate in pro and con teams to discuss whether it was right of Brigadier Thompson, Commander of the Landing Forces, to oppose that particular 2 Para offensive.

In the same vein, other key international relations themes are introduced in subsequent cases. Norway’s different security strategies – neutrality, collective security and alliance – are studied in conjunction with another company offensive during the invasion of Norway in spring 1940. Success on the battlefield in Northern Norway was to little avail for Norwegian troops when the political context changed by the end of May. Making this link between operational and political objectives, cadets use mainstream international relations theories and security strategies to understand contemporary Norwegian defence policy, identify the underpinning ideas and hence the political ends of the armed forces. The role of the United Nations in international security and its utility and limitations within the framework of collective security is introduced in relation to a case from Korea 1950. In addition, the role of media in a globalised world and implications for troops on the ground are briefly treated during a case on company tactics in urban areas from Iraq 2003.

Irregular-Warfare is the second major thematic block in Leadership-of-Operations and basically a continuation of the pre-2012 course Peacekeeping-and-Counterinsurgency. The objective of international relations instructors is still to cultivate cadets’ strategic mind-set in a way that meets shortcomings identified prior to 2005. This is primarily done by applying international relations theories and concepts with which cadets at this stage have become familiar. In case studies they address troop-contributing governments’ interests vis-à-vis their electorates, allies, multilateral organisations, as well as towards the authorities and people among which the troops are deployed. They also discuss the political utility and limitations of military force compared to informational, diplomatic and other means of power when solving specific tactical tasks.

Crisis-Management is a minor thematic block in Leadership-of-Operations, but probably more than any other tactical tasks it requires a strategic mind-set in officers at the lowest operational echelon. Cadets are introduced to the highly politicised military tasks in intra-state crises, such as the one Norway experienced during the terrorist attack carried out on 22 July 2011, as well as in inter-state crises.[xxii] Departing from a fictive case emphasis is given to the communicative dimensions of military posture and acts.

Comparison with university study programmes

Against this background, we shall now compare and contrast the political science and international relations competence cadets acquire at the Norwegian Military Academy with that which university undergraduates normally gain. This can be done by pointing to the key objective of the Academy, which is to provide research-based education of high quality that is relevant to the practical nature of the army officer profession.[xxiii]

From this follows a similarity between the Academy and universities: both educations convey research-based knowledge.[xxiv] 90 per cent of the cadets’ political science and international relations syllabus holds an academic quality comparable to that used at university bachelor levels. Moreover, the educational institutions draw from the same body of scientific knowledge, for example the schools of realism and liberalism.

The main difference is that the Academy educates for a profession. While a university degree in international relations shall cultivate candidates’ general theoretical competence in the field, the Academy sees the discipline as a support for the development of officer competence. This may be described as the kind of theoretical and practice-based competence army officers need to fulfil the military’s contract with society, in particular to achieve the government’s political ends by means of military force.[xxv] In this context, theoretical understanding can make a valuable difference only to the extent the officer in charge is capable of using it with advantage in solving the practical task he faces. Along this line of reasoning, the Norwegian Military Academy has narrowed the scope of political science and international relations theories and concepts compared to university courses.

A related factor limiting the scope of themes is the Academy’s decision-making procedures to define the content of interdisciplinary subjects. Relevant knowledge from the disciplines is included in the subjects only to the extent the respective instructor is capable of convincing decision-makers in the Academy’s Educational Department of the relevance with regard to learning outcomes. In competition with other disciplines on a host of issues deemed highly relevant to the military profession the criterion for inclusion tends to be the practical utility of themes. Hence, the Academy gives priority to the security dimension of political science and international relations and within them to the more traditional perspectives. The reason is to familiarise cadets with the most commonly used ideas and concepts underpinning contemporary debates on Norwegian security policy. It follows that, for example, realism is prioritised over constructivism, Buzan’s notion of a state over securitisation theory, and NATO over the EU.

In addition, the didactic change from teaching to learning requires that cadets have more time to prepare for seminar groups. They are not primarily listening to a formal lecture, but tasked to more time-consuming studying to explain implications of ideas in the syllabus. For example during a WWII case cadets discuss questions like: “How did Communism, Fascism and Liberalism respectively influence the views and the conduct of war?”

Evaluating effect

The final and crucial question to be addressed here is whether it works. This is as simple to ask as it is difficult to answer. One way the Norwegian Military Academy approaches this question is through its Quality Management System. This departs from the above-mentioned learning outcomes. However, it is not evident whose and which standards should be used to measure levels of achievement. Addressing this question opens to a broader debate about the purpose of professional military education.

In line with the overall aims of the Academy’s strategy, the Quality Management System evaluates feedback from battalion and company commanders who have received officers recently graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy. Overall, their responses are positive or very positive with regard to the junior officers’ attitude, initiative and theoretical competence. Better basic soldiering and leadership skills are in demand, however.[xxvi]

Another parameter is comparison with grading systems in the university sector. The Academy’s exams and bachelor theses related to political science and international relations are graded by university scholars teaching in the same fields at bachelor level. So far, results suggest that cadets hold an academic level comparable to universities. However, testing what a cadet has learned in an interdisciplinary subject is torn between two objectives: competence in the individual disciplines that make up the subject on the one hand, and on the other hand competence to combine knowledge from different disciplines to reach a more comprehensive understanding of the broader subject. The Academy has dealt with this dilemma in two different ways for the past three years. One is to test cadets in each discipline by means of individually written exams with no books or notes allowed. For example, this year one of the exam questions in the interdisciplinary subject Military-Profession was: “Based on your political science- and international relations-related syllabus explain why Norway needs officers and discuss what this implies for you as an officer”. The other way is to strike a balance between the two objectives. The subject Leadership-of-Operations does this with an eight-day exam organised along the lines of Mission Command. It involves separate yet interconnected sub-examinations, both oral and written, and commences by testing each cadet’s ability to use academic disciplines, such as international relations and intercultural communication, to understand the context of a given tactical task. The exam continues to the planning of operations, to giving orders and simple war-gaming their plan to test their competence in tactics and leadership. The 2015 exam was based on a fictive Norwegian company deployment to Mali. Understanding of the political science and international relations syllabus was tested with the exam question: “What do you consider to be MINUSMA’s primary task? Explain briefly how you would contribute to that at company level.”

The Quality Management System also evaluates how those directly involved in the learning process experience its effects. This includes the cadets. Inclinations to question the relevance of their views in this context should be balanced by the critical importance pedagogical literature pays to the motivation of the individual who learns.[xxvii] The interdisciplinary subjects of which political science and international relations form part generally receive high scores, although the disciplines are not evaluated on their own terms.

The last criterion to be mentioned here is the Norwegian Military Academy’s production of research and development. In line with the general trend in the university sector, this criterion is increasingly used by the Ministry of Education for evaluating the Academy’s study programme. Peer-reviewed publications and PhD theses are produced but so far not to an extent that compares to universities.

Reconsidering strategic choices

The purpose of this article has been to present the Norwegian take on strategic choices in the education of junior army officer with a particular focus on how this has influenced the way cadets learn political science and international relations at the Norwegian Military Academy. It shows that the two academic disciplines’ contribution to the professional military education has boosted significantly the last 10 years. This is partly due to the increased importance paid to contextual aspects of military operations in the multiple kinds of armed conflicts Norwegian Armed Forces have been tasked to deal with recently. It is also due to two major reforms – an externally driven in 2005 and an internal one in 2012 – that placed the formation of officers from the exclusive domain of the Ministry of Defence towards that of the Ministry of Education. While adapting to these trends the Academy has maintained focus on the practical nature of the military profession. Hence, cadets are introduced to political science and international relations, not as taught at universities, but in a manner where the practical utility of academic knowledge is brought to the fore. Theoretical perspectives are selected, presented and applied for the purpose of developing the kind of strategic mind-set that may enable army officers to shape military activities in line with political objectives. To this end, the Academy applies an educational framework that focuses attention on a few learning outcomes. The formation is organised in interdisciplinary subjects and applies a variety of cadet-active learning methods.

As stipulated from the outset, the Academy’s educational design has been presented in an ideal-type manner to clarify its fundamental ideas. Needless to say, the practicalities and constraints of everyday life in an institution of higher education and budgetary reductions limit the extent to which the Academy is able to carry out the ideas as intentioned. As a sobering measure and with reference to the four major debates in the educational sciences that have framed this article, we shall now address some of the major difficulties faced. This will highlight some of the challenges the Academy needs to come to terms with.

Deep-learning strategies are time-consuming for cadets and compared to formal lectures do compromise the scope of academic themes instructors can introduce to cadets. Finding the right balance is a point of dispute. Second, interdisciplinary subjects are time consuming also for instructors. There are rarely sufficient instructor resources to plan and deliver subjects in a manner that fully exploits potential synergies. Finding the right balance between educational ambitions and resources will always be a challenge. Further, the extent to and ways in which individual disciplines shall form part of a subject is a matter of controversy among those involved. For the Academy’s direction there is a fine balance to be struck between allowing dedicated instructors in their respective fields of expertise to find a useful interdisciplinary mix and the need to reduce conflicts in a corps of instructors whose cooperation at the end of the day is premised on the goodwill among colleagues.[xxviii] Another challenge is that military instructors tend to hold their positions only a few years. Newcomers’ ideas about what they want to teach cadets do not necessarily fit into the Academy’s interdisciplinary approach and they need time and the support of colleagues to contribute fully within the institutional framework. The last dilemma to be mentioned is the Academy’s need to meet the Army’s demand for competent officers and the Ministry of Education’s demands for research and development. In the ideal world there need not be any conflict as long as instructors’ research can improve the quality of cadets’ education. However, with limited instructor resources there is often a choice to be made on where the main effort shall be.

The framework from the educational sciences used here may be useful in the broader debate about professional military education. The diversity of study programmes at national military academies within the alliance is striking. The reasons for this can be many but the four dimensions may inspire initial efforts to clarify how the study programme of one’s national military academy differs from that of others and to reconsider the strength and weaknesses of one’s approach to prepare young officers for their principal task: to use their tools at their level in ways that serves the state, its strategic plans and political ends.


[i] Major Tor-Erik Hanssen, conversation at the Norwegian Military Academy, 6. November 2014.
[ii] The didactic perspectives presented here draw on a 2005 Norwegian Military Academy policy paper “Concept for Learning and Development”, in particular a chapter by the Academy’s instructor in the educational sciences, Finn Gravem, pp. 59-78, available at; also Mona Stokke and Tina Mathisen (2011) “Form eller innhold? En evaluering av tiltaket ’60 seconds’ i strategiundervisningen ved Krigsskolen”, ØF-rapport no. 13, Østlandsforskning, available at
[iii] See, for example, Talcott Parsons and Gerald M. Platt (1973) The America University. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University; Eliot Freidson (1994) Professionalism Reborn: Theory, Prophechy and Policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.14. From a university education point of view one would appreciate the relevance and quality of cadets’ formation at Norwegian Military Academy from the perspective of a broad variety of scholarly disciplines – such as English, scientific methodology and international relations – along criteria established within each academic field of knowledge. Alternatively, from the point of view of professional education one would evaluate relevance and quality with regard to the profession’s specific role in society – i.e. the ability to prepare officers to further a state’s ends by the management of violence, see Samuel P. Huntington (1957) The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations. New York: Belknap Press, p.11.
[iv] See Robert Barr and John Tagg (1995) “From Teaching to Learning – a New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education”, Change, Vol.27, No.6, pp.13-25; Line Wittek and Laurence Habib (2013) “Quality Teaching and Learning as Practice Within Different Disciplinary Discourses”, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education , Vol.25, No. 3, pp.275-287. Approaching education from the perspective of teaching focuses on those who master a field of expertise and concerns how they best inform students about that field. In an extreme variant, this may take the form of a one-way formal lecture to a large audience. Others see education as learning and consequently depart from the individual student and how he, or she, learns. This point of departure suggests that the task of an educational institution is to create learning arenas. In an extreme variant, educational staff create learning arenas tailored to the specific needs of individual student.
[v] See Tanya Augsburg (2006) Becoming Interdisciplinary: An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. New York: Kendall/Hunt Publishing; Kirsti Lauvås and Per Lauvås (2004) Tverrfaglig Samarbeid: Perspektiv og Strategi. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. A single-disciplinary approach introduces students to disciplines on their own terms in separate classes. An interdisciplinary approach uses a number of disciplines to give a more comprehensive understanding of a common theme, while each discipline uses the same approach to introduce its theories and concepts.
[vi] See John Biggs (2001) “The reflective institution: assuring and enhancing the quality of teaching and learning”, Higher Education, Vol.41, No.3, pp.221-238; Per Olav Aamodt, Elisabeth Hovdhaugen , and Tine S. Prøitz (2013) “Utdanningskvalitet i høyere utdanning”, NIFU report no. 6, available at This dimension aims to capture the quality of higher education. In the context of this article, the Ministry of Education generally evaluates the quality of institutions of higher education in terms of academic staff’s research and development production, whereas the army evaluates the quality of the Norwegian Military Academy according to its undergraduates’ competence as junior military leaders.
[vii] Findings presented in a Norwegian Military Academy report by Dean Reidar Skaug on the education of future officers, avaliable at
[viii] See the Norwegian Military Academy’s Programme of Studies, p.11, available at
[ix] Inter-disciplinary subjects at the Norwegian Military Academy combine two to ten academic and practical disciplines – like tactics, international relations, leadership, English, etc. – in an orchestrated manner to achieve a few common educational objectives.
[x] Syllabus included Iver B. Neumann and Ståle Ulriksen (1997) “Norsk forsvars og sikkerhetspolitikk” in Knutsen et. al. eds. Norges utenrikspolitikk. Oslo: Cappelen akademisk forlag, pp. 80-105, and Østerud, Øyvind (1996) Statsvitenskap: Innføring i Politisk Analyse. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, as well as articles by Adam Roberts, Anders Kjølberg, and others. Policy documents as white papers from the Ministry of Defence also formed part of the reading list.
[xi] The debate on surface and deep learning was central in these discussions, see Paul Ramsden (1992) Learning to Teach in Higher Education. London: Routledge.
[xii] International Relations syllabus in the 2014-15 course included parts of Thomas G. Weiss et al (2014) The United Nations and Changing World Politics. Boulder: Westview Press; Alex J. Bellamy and Paul Williams (2010) Understanding Peacekeeping. Cambridge: Polity Press; and Trevor Findlay (2002) The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations. New York: Oxford University Press. Among United Nations documents used were Security Council resolutions and United Nations (2008) United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Principles and Guidelines, available at
[xiii] In 2015 political science- and international relations-related texts on counterinsurgency included Alex Marshall (2010) “Imperial Nostalgia, the liberal lie, and the perils of postmodern counterinsurgency”, Small Wars and Insurgency, Vol.21, No.2, pp. 233-258; Gilles Dorronsoro (2009) The Taliban’s Winning Strategy in Afghanistan. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Tore Nyhamar (2010) Utfordringer og strategi i freds- og stabiliseringsoperasjoner. Oslo: Abstrakt Forlag. Political parts of relevant doctrines are also studied such as the US Army (2006) Field Manuel 3-24, available at, §1-40; Mao Tse Tung (1978) Militærskrifter i Utvalg. Oslo: Oktober forlag; and Robert Thompson (2005) Defeating Communist Insurgency. St. Petersburg, Florida: Hailer Publishing.
[xiv] Rupert Smith (2005) The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World. London: Penguin Group, pp.9-10.
[xv] Paul Ramsden (1988) Improving Learning: New Perspectives. London: Kogan Page.
[xvi] Gerd Bjørke (2006) Aktive læringsformer: Handbok for studenter og lærarar i høgre utdanning. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
[xvii] See European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System Users’ Guide, p.13, available at
[xviii] Barry Buzan (2009) People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era. Colchester: European Consortium for Political Research, pp.65-103. Of the interdisciplinary theme’s 800-pages syllabus political science and international relations contains, in addition to much from the above-presented War-and-Society course, notably Torstein Hjellum (2008) Den Norske Nasjonalstaten. Oslo: Cappelen Damm, outlining the development of political dynamics and institutions in Norway since the renaissance; and Michael Walzer (1970) Obligations: Essays on Disobedience, War and Citizenship. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, pp.77-98 discussing the implications of the Hobbesian versus the Rousseauean social contract for a state’s citizens.
[xix] On Mission Command see chapter 5 in US Army Field Manual 3-0 Operations, available at
[xx] The main work here is Lawrence Freedman (2005) The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. London: Routledge, which addresses key political issues at state and international level and connects them to military concerns and dilemmas on the ground in the Falklands.
[xxi] As explained in Gunnar Fermann (2011) ”Utenrikspolitikk som Begrep, Intensjon og Atferd” in Jon Hovi and Raino Malnes ed. Anarki, Makt og Normer – Innføring i Internasjonal Politikk. Oslo: Abstrakt forlag, pp.28-37, 50-58.
[xxii] The main International Relations syllabus is here Tormod Heier and Anders Kjølberg (2013) Mellom Fred og Krig: Norsk Militær Krisehåndtering. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
[xxiii] See the Norwegian Military Academy’s Programme of Studies, p.11, available at ; and the Academy’s Strategy and Values, available at
[xxiv] See Norwegian Military Academy’s Programme of Studies, p.10, available at
[xxv] See Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine (2007), chapter 6, available at
[xxvi] Norwegian Military Academy’s Quality Assesment report 2013-2014 of 23. October 2014, pp.43-47, available from Norwegian Military Academy library see
[xxvii] Paul Ramsden (1988) Improving Learning: New Perspectives. London: Kogan Page.
[xxviii] See also Kirsti Lauvås and Per Lauvås (2004) Tverrfaglig Samarbeid: Perspektiv og Strategi. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.