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Theory for Real-Worlders: Teaching International Security Studies to Dutch Cadets

Theory for Real-Worlders: Teaching International Security Studies to Dutch Cadets Theory for Real-Worlders: Teaching International Security Studies to Dutch Cadets
To cite this article: Rothman, Maarten, “Theory for Real-Worlders: Teaching International Security Studies to Dutch Cadets,” Infinity Journal Special Edition, “International Relations in Professional Military Education,” winter 2016, pages 16-21.

© 2circles | – Dutch Soldiers Upon A Battle Tank Photo

Introduction: theory, policy, practice

This paper is situated in the context of a debate that has been going on for at least 20 years, on the gap between theory and practice in international relations and related fields (such as international security studies, conflict studies and strategic studies). The debate can be characterized as one between “theorists” and “real-worlders”[i] in which the real-worlders worry that International Relations theory has become too abstract with little policy relevance. Even where relevant theory is available, it is not effectively communicated to policymakers.[ii] The theorists’ answer is that policy relevance is not the only or even the most important function of theory and that focusing too much on problem-solving theory can be bad for critical theory. [iii]

A similar “debate” takes place at the Netherlands Defense Academy every year during the international security studies courses between students and teachers. Military students, cadets[iv], are committed real-worlders; their first question is how this course will help them when they take up their commissions as officers in the Dutch armed forces. The answer to this question is important; it determines how our students approach our courses and, by consequence, how well they do in it and how much of it will stick in their minds. Though the exchange between students and teachers doesn’t take the form of an academic debate (hence the quotation marks above), it isn’t a question that can be answered all at once. It is a question that is re-asked about every topic, theme and theory and answered not just in each class session but also in the structure of the course and even the curriculum.

In part, the problem is how to integrate research into teaching; this has received increased attention in recent years.[v] However, the difficulty is considerably increased when students are accustomed to think of themselves as “doers, not thinkers”, a self-image that takes a surprisingly strong hold in only 4 months of initial military training before they enter the academic program. The “real-worlders” in the academic debate are scholars worrying about losing touch; our cadets are (perhaps overly) confident they are in touch but not so sure that we, civilian academics, are. This “debate” is the focus of this paper, though it will be necessary also to say a few things about the academic debate in which it is situated.

First, the theory-practice debate took a new turn in recent years. The debate started around the time that poststructuralism entered the field of international relations. Today, the relevance of constructivism for academic research is undeniable; Alexander Wendt tops Foreign Policy’s list of most influential scholar of the past 20 years.[vi] From the perspective of the academic discipline, one cannot in good faith teach a full course (or two) in international security tudies that does not include constructivism. From the perspective of policy relevance, the case for constructivism has been strengthened by numerous applications to past and current conflicts, to foreign policy and to policymaking process. Even in the field of military strategy it has left its mark, for example on John Boyd’s influential OODA-loop or Chaoplexic warfare.[viii] Furthermore, as realists had been among the disregarded critics in the policy debate over the US invasion of Iraq, the experience shifted the focus away from the rationalist-constructivist split within IR with which the issue had been linked.[ix] At this point constructivism still stands out as one of the hardest theories for students to grasp, but it is no longer summarily dismissed by philosophical realists.

Second, it should be noted at the outset that the academic debate focuses on contributions to policy. This is not the perspective of our students, whose priority lies with practice. This practice can be provisionally defined as the execution of tasks given to the military by their political masters. There is policymaking at this level but it is not quite the sort or the level that the academic debate is about. One of our first arguments to our students is usually that it’s very useful for them to understand what is going on at that higher level of decision-making, the level at which their goals and their means (including those often frustrating rules of engagement) are set. Still, our students initially regard policy as something that is removed from practice. Only a few of them are interested in something they expect to encounter in the workplace only towards the end of their careers, the others have to be convinced. For cadets, the theory – practice gap is located in a different place from where the academic debaters put it.

On the other hand, I think the academic debate is too narrowly focused. Students of public policy are well aware that they should look not only at how policies are decided but also how they are carried out.[x] In the military domain, there is widespread recognition that the political leadership cannot micromanage the decisions that have to be taken by commanders on the ground. By design, therefore, the armed forces are not a dumb tool but an organization staffed by intelligent, capable people who have some autonomy in the ways in which they fulfill their tasks. This doesn’t negate the real-worlders’ question, it adds another dimension. We have the good luck that our students regularly remind us of this dimension.

Our students’ curriculum underwent the influence of the Cold War in two ways, one the reform of military education and the other the great debates over the scope of security studies. They are not unrelated; both aim to understand a changing, more complex security environment. But they don’t seem to mesh well in the classroom. The broadening of the security concept and the rise of constructivism has made security studies a tough subject for our students. It requires that they study some issues that might not interest them initially and take on some genuinely challenging philosophical questions. This makes it all the more important that we bridge the gap between theory and practice in our teaching. This paper explains the approach my colleagues and I at the Netherlands Defense Academy have taken.

This paper proceeds as follows. The next paragraph briefly describes the way military education has been organized in the Netherlands after the end of the Cold War. This provides the setting for our courses. After that, the paper focuses on two of them, International Security Studies I and II, which we have recently reorganized in a way that we think could bridge the gap. Paragraph three describes the content of these courses, paragraph four the didactic approach we’re taking. The last paragraph examines the different uses of theory which our students pick up during the two ISS courses.

Institutional context[xi]

Like other Western militaries, the Dutch armed forces changed considerably after the end of the Cold War. They became a smaller professional force aimed at joint and combined expeditionary operations. The changes affected military education in two ways. First, the draft had guaranteed a steady supply of high quality personnel in the past; effective recruitment of the same was thought to be next to impossible if entering the armed services would severely limit career prospects elsewhere. Normative concerns about being a good employer and practical considerations regarding effective recruitment converged on providing officers with good papers if they chose to leave the service, as indeed the majority of them was, and is, expected to do at some point in their career. Second, the failure of Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica in 1995 hammered home the lesson that these operations were not the relatively simple peacekeeping missions of before. Where it had been possible during the Cold War to train extensively for a narrow range of well-defined missions, the armed forces now had to prepare their men and their officers for complex, multidimensional operations in wildly varying and often uncertain situations.

Both the Ministry of Defense, backed by parliament, and the military academies saw the need to reform military education. A single umbrella organization, the Netherlands Defense Academy (NLDA), was made responsible for all military education in order to better prepare officers for joint operations as well as contribute to a common esprit de corps. Under this umbrella, training focusing on the tactical-technical level of operations is usually service-specific and separate, since operations are rarely joined at this level (though they are quite frequently carried out in conjunction with operations by other branches). Job-specific training is done at separate training facilities after the cadets finish their NLDA-program. The NLDA has, however, set a common core curriculum for officers in all branches. Joint service education is part of the career courses for majors and lieutenant-colonels. At the primary military education level, the common core can be taught separately but the curriculum is the same. It consists of overview courses in international security, strategy, military ethics, law, management and technology, and military operations, with emphasis on the latter.

Primary military education is offered in two forms. Some 300 to 400 cadets per year follow a short model course consisting of the common core, primary military training and job-specific training, altogether taking about a year and a half to complete. This program is aimed at cadets with a prior university or vocational college[xii] degree (but this is not a requirement). The idea is that their training can be short as they already have some of the required learning skills. Meanwhile, approximately 100 to 150 cadets take a long model education, consisting of a full bachelor’s program plus military and job-specific training (ca. 4 years in total). While promotion to higher ranks is not reserved to BA-program graduates and they are not put on a fast-track to promotion, it is expected that they will perform better, get quicker promotions and eventually outnumber their non-BA colleagues. This two-tier system is not new, the NLDA’s forerunners have always offered both long and short programs, but these were now integrated and updated. Ministry of Education oversight over the Bachelor degree programs followed in 2006, as a means to guarantee the value of the diploma.[xiii] Having a choice between accreditation as university or vocational college education, the NLDA chose to upgrade rather than downgrade.

As the BA-programs go above and beyond the basic requirements for officers in the armed forces, there is room for specialization. A newly integrated Faculty of Military Sciences offers three Bachelor degree programs: War Studies, Military Management Studies, and Military Systems and Technology. Each of these programs fulfills a demand from the armed forces. Navy, Airforce and Army Engineers need graduates with an understanding of the technical aspects of their weapon systems. Military Management Studies provides controllers, personnel managers, logistics officers and others whose main task is “behind the frontlines” (though that demarcation isn’t always clear anymore in today’s battlespace). War Studies is focused on the “frontlines” themselves, the actual warfighting and peacekeeping operations, as well as military policing and border control, that are the armed forces’ primary task. All three Bachelor programs start with the common core (50 ECTS or 1400 hours). This leaves two and a half years (150 ECTS or 4200 hours) for specialization.

Ministry of Education requirements meant the Faculty’s diploma’s came under the authority of a foundation that is formally independent from the armed forces, though their interests are reflected in the foundation’s board of directors which seats (retired) officers alongside civilian academics. In all other respects, the Faculty is a part of the armed forces, under the aegis of the NLDA and above that, the joint Central Services Command.[xiv] These reforms meant that the Faculty of Military Sciences now has two sets of expectations to fulfill. One is from the armed forces, which expect a crop of new recruits every year that is capable of exercising the duties of lieutenant in the short run and those of higher echelon officers in the long run. The armed forces are the Faculty’s paymaster and its raison d’être. The other is from the organization overseeing the quality of academic degrees, called the NVAO (Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organization). This body accredits universities’ and vocational colleges’ degree programs after a thorough investigation and does regular checks to see if the quality of teaching remains at that level. The committees visiting the NLDA have allowed some divergence from civilian norms, for example allowing the bachelor’s degree program to be reserved for military students, but the course material, the teaching methods and the staff’s research output (from military teachers as well as from civilian academics) are nonetheless held to academic disciplinary standards.

International security is included in the common core followed by all BA students as well as the short form cadets. Unfortunately, this means we have little time and very large classes. From the perspective of the theory-practice debate, we can do more in the courses for the Bachelor Degree in War Studies, where we have smaller classes (usually between 20 and 40 cadets) and more time. The chair in International Security Studies is responsible for four courses in this program, in addition to the core course. In the second half of this paper, I focus specifically on two of these, International Security Studies I and International Security Studies II (ISS1 and ISS2) which we have recently reorganized. Both are second year courses, so they are exclusive to the War Studies program but they follow shortly after the common core. As explained above, the choices made in reforming military education, and accreditation in particular, meant that the curriculum follows civilian disciplinary standards, which means that abstract stuff such as grand theory is included. Knowing from experience that our cadets do not always see the relevance of the subject matter, we redesigned the two ISS courses specifically to demonstrate the utility of IR theory for military practice and planning. In the next section of the paper I explain why and how.

The International Security Studies courses

ISS1 and ISS2 together cover the standard content of International Security handbooks, ranging from grand theory to long-term trends to security organizations to contemporary challenges. At 6 EC each, or 336 study hours total, we have room to add a few topics that aren’t included in most books that we think should have been (though our textbook[xv] is over 600 pages and we grant that choices have to be made if it is not to become too unwieldy). In particular, we have added informal power structures (including patronage and clientelism) to the topics for ISS1 and scenario building to ISS2.

In dividing the topics over the two courses we have not adhered to the standard subdivisions and instead let ourselves be guided by practice. Those topics that are useful during the conduct of military operations are assigned to ISS1, while those that are relevant for military planning are taught in ISS2. This division largely coincides with the division between traditional and broad security studies. More importantly, it allows us to structure our courses around a sequence of tutorials. In ISS1 our students make their own analysis of an ongoing conflict. In ISS2 they construct their own scenario analysis.

Both courses are made up of 10 lectures and 8 tutorial sessions. Class convenes two times per week, once for lectures and once for tutorials, except in the first week when there hasn’t been enough time for the students to properly prepare for a tutorial. Each session is two times 45 minutes with a 5-minute break between them. The rest of the time is reserved for students to study on their own. We expect that they spend about 30 hours on their paper and presentation and the remaining 100 hours on preparation for classes and the exam. Both courses are graded on a paper and presentation for the tutorial sessions (more on that below) and an exam on the reading materials and the lectures; both count for half the final grade. For the tutorial sessions, the class will be split up if necessary, so that each tutorial group will have around 15 students.

We start ISS1 with a trick, telling our students “security studies can help analyze any conflict, so you, the class, can choose which case we’ll study in this course.” The purpose is to demonstrate relevance on the students’ terms as well as to give the students a stake in the course. It also helps to keep things fresh for teachers. It does require more preparation to acquire knowledge of the case but not that much because it is the students’ task to dig up the information they need and analyze the case themselves. (In the next section I discuss how we organize this.) I tested the case study concept in several classes and every time the case chosen was either recently in the news or one in which the Dutch armed forces took a direct role, so cases in which my colleagues and I would be interested anyway.[xvi]

ISS1 covers topics that link easily to current conflicts: war, ethnic conflict, informal power structures, alliances and international organizations, terrorism and counterinsurgency, coercion, peacekeeping, and humanitarian intervention. Grand theory enters the course naturally through discussions on the motivations of various actors, whether they are self-interested or altruistic, why self-interested realists would pretend to be idealists, how idealists can play power games, and so on; from here, the step to academic theory consists for the most part of systematizing the students’ arguments. While the exact topic of each tutorial session is not known beforehand, the discussion generally focuses on causes of the conflict first, then moves to the dynamic during the conflict and finally moves to ways to potentially resolve the conflict. We have organized the lectures around these three themes in that order, so they feed into the tutorial discussion.

The second international security course, ISS2, uses a similar set-up. This time we challenge the students to think about long-term planning for the armed forces. How should they be trained and organized? What materiel will they need? And before that can be answered, what challenges will they face in approximately twenty years time? Our model for this is a MoD review undertaken between 2008 and 2010 which set out different scenarios for future deployment alongside the requirements for the armed forces to fulfill their assigned tasks.[xvii] The course is structured around scenario-building, with each tutorial session discussing whether a particular issue or trend should be included in the scenario or not, and if yes, how it should be weighed.

Naturally, ISS2 starts with a lecture about constructing scenarios, followed by two lectures on the functions of theory and developments in IR theory. We discuss problem-solving and critical theory, the rise of constructivism and the broadening of the security concept. The focus in these lectures is on how particular viewpoints are represented and how interests are weighed. We follow these up with a series of lectures on the topics that will be discussed in the tutorial sessions, grouped thematically. One theme is broadening security, with discussion on the issues of poverty, health and climate change. Another is which actors to focus on, which combines discussion on states, IGOs and NGOs with human security. Globalization, migration, crime and energy security can also be bundled together. So can conflict prevention, nuclear proliferation and the arms trade. Each of these issues and approaches raises questions about the environment in which the military will operate 20 years from now; how to answer them is the central problem of the tutorial sessions.

Tutorials and assignments

In ISS1, every tutorial session opens with presentations from cadets, presenting their own research. This sets the direction of class discussion for that session, which is otherwise free to develop according to the interests of the students. Whenever class discussion hits on a topic that needs further research, that question becomes the assignment for one of the next week’s presentations. If there are not enough assignments for the next week’s cadets, the teacher steps in 15 minutes before the end of the session to have the class set the other assignments. This means that cadets do not know in advance which topic they will research, they all have equal time to do their assignment. It also means that the students receive their assignment from their colleagues. The class is set up as a collaborative effort between the students and the teacher. While the assignments are individually graded, this approach quietly builds on the cadets’ code of comradeship. As each week builds on the previous, the gradual accumulation of knowledge and insight results in more probing questions, some of which cannot be answered definitively but which nevertheless demonstrate the value of sustained research. As the cadets’ understanding of the case grows, their views on how best to use (or not use) military force to resolve it inevitably changes.

Assignments for ISS1 take the form of a presentation and a 1000 word paper on the same subject. The paper is due in class during the next lecture session that is (as far as planning allows) two days before the next tutorial session, five days after the tutorial session in which the assignment was set. The timing makes it so that students can’t use the lecture on the topic for their paper though they can of course use the course literature and they can use the two days between their paper and their presentation to include salient points from the lecture. For the most part, however, the students’ presentations stand as independent contributions to class discussion alongside our lectures and are even given a bit more prominence as they’re held during the same tutorial session. Students are required to use at least three academic articles or book chapters for their paper, which they are expected to summarize in a few sentences, so they have to relate the case to academic theory. This ensures that students take the time to research their topic before they make their presentation. It also ensures that class discussion is informed by real knowledge and insight. Finally, the two-day period between paper and presentation ensures that the teacher knows beforehand what direction the presentation will take.

In both ISS1 and ISS2 the oral presentations are kept short, ideally fewer than two minutes (but we give students a bit of grace). This forces the student to distinguish between what’s important and what’s not. Students are otherwise free to choose the form of their presentation, whether they want to use visual aids or not, whether they want to present the information they dug up neutrally or argue for one perspective. After all (two or three) presentations have been held, the rest of the class has the opportunity to ask for clarification or further information. This Q&A shifts gradually into open and substantive debate. In our experience, cadets are unwilling to criticize each other when someone’s grade is at stake; we take away this concern by grading the papers before the presentations and by not grading the presentations substantially (they are marked sufficient/insufficient).

For ISS2 the assignments also consist of a paper and a presentation but they are more structured. The theme for each week is known in advance. On the other hand, the questions facing the cadets are still in debate: authors are divided on whether and to what extent grand theory does or should influence policymaking, whether and to what extent the security concept should be broadened, whether the armed forces should have a role in any particular issue area. On one level, our students can borrow arguments from one author or another but the choices are their own. On another, they should recognize that such choices are political in nature, that these are questions on which politicians and the public will have a say (a point that is explicit and emphatic in securitization theory, included in the lectures for the course). It is more important for them to understand the terms of the debate than to know which way the decision will go. The practical issue for our students is that they should limit the branches of their scenario to keep it manageable. A strong argument on one side of an issue can be reason not to branch. Another option is to bundle together a number of issues. We already do this in our lectures but the students are encouraged to question whether we did it right; we deliberately diverge from the way our textbook orders its chapters.[xviii]

Just as in ISS1, it is important that the individual assignments are part of a common project. Again we hope to enlist the cadets’ comradeship and again we aim to demonstrate how the accumulation of knowledge and insight enhances practice. While it is not practical to integrate the individual papers in a full-sized report (certainly not on the scale of the 317 page government report), the class is expected at the end of the course to produce the outline of one, in the form of scenario matrices alongside a summary of the arguments for including or excluding particular variables or issue areas.

Compared to its forerunner, ISS2 focuses on more explicitly academic material. We have also moved from the level of practice (as cadets see it) to the level of policy. Thirdly, and most importantly, ISS2 emphasizes epistemology. How does one know whether a trend will continue or not? What assumptions are needed to arrive at a usable, concise and yet accurate scenario matrix? As our students ponder how much confidence they should place in their predictions, they are gaining real insight in research methods and even a bit of philosophy of science and we are sure to tell them – but only afterwards. The course shows that knowledge and insight are relevant to practice even when they are uncertain enough that they result in multiple scenario branches.

The relevance of theory

Our approach makes the students collectively and individually responsible for the integration of theory and practice. The teacher’s role is occasionally to correct misinformation but mostly to coach the students in how to conduct their analysis. Naturally we each have our own opinions but we try to avoid intervening substantively in the students’ debates unless they ask a direct question. The temptation for us is to answer these questions in such a way that we steer the discussion while for the students, it is to fall back on the teacher’s knowledge. While we probably haven’t always resisted the urge, we do our best to turn these questions back over to our students.

An effective trick is to ask a student to put himself in the shoes of an actor in the situation they are analyzing. What are his (or her) goals? Which constraints does he accept? Which factors affect his position? Which actors does he deal with? The student can act it out if he wants, we can even assign another student the role of one of those actors. We have found that this exercise (almost an impromptu simulation game[xix]) makes it easier to relate abstract ideas to concrete cases and, importantly, to show where the problems with their implementation lie. On one memorable occasion, more than half of my class was acting. It started with one student taking the role of a warlord transitioning to civilian government (the case was South-Sudan). When asked who he was interacting with, he picked another student to represent the international community, another to represent oil interests, another to play a rival warlord, two more to play subordinate warlords for each of them and two more to represent local communities of different ethnic backgrounds. He proceeded to analyze that his own position depended internationally on peaceful transition but domestically on patronage so that he had an interest in playing along while underhandedly sabotaging the process and that he had an opportunity to do so by playing on ethnic tensions and the fears of his rival. From there, it was a small step to the idea of a spoiler and the next student’s assignment. We have even adapted the content of our courses, including spoilers in the conflict resolution lecture for next year’s course. Our inclusion of informal power structures (patronage and clientelism) also followed from discussions in previous classes.

Our students move gradually from the instrumental use of theory, “directly applying ideas in some specific way – corresponding to giving recommendations on how to act in a given situation”[xx], to the conceptual, “geared toward understanding rather than recommendation”[xxi], though they would certainly prefer it if understanding eventually yielded recommendation. In ISS2, they also address the symbolic use of theory, “legitimating or critiquing an already established policy.”[xxii] Through requiring students to put themselves in the shoes of different actors, we move beyond problem-solving theory to impart understanding of the multiplicity of political perspectives and the value-laden character of theorizing. We show that defense policy is, consciously or not, grounded in grand theory on the causes of war, the nature of the international system, and so on, and also requires insight in research methods (constructing hypotheses, data-gathering and –analysis) and even philosophy of science (e.g. how much confidence to place in predictions). At the same time, the focus on practical relevance in both courses alerts us, the teachers, to themes and topics that are undertheorized or at least excluded from consideration under the rubric of international security studies, whose inclusion would improve understanding as well as practice.


The two courses presented in this paper together constitute an attempt to overcome the problem of cadets’ disinterest in IR theory. Our approach privileges the perspective of military practice. In the tutorial sessions, we put real-worlders in charge. It is up to them to judge whether a theory is relevant to the case they are discussing. And yet, our classes have their fair share of even these abstract and philosophically demanding theories. The most important reason for this outcome is that such theories are relevant. The second reason, and the one this paper focused on, is that we put our students in the position to find this out themselves.

We have done this by structuring both our international security studies courses around a sequence of tutorials. In the tutorial sessions, cadets analyze practical issues: a contemporary conflict in ISS1, medium-term defense policy in ISS2. Literature and lectures are divided over the two courses and scheduled so that they feed into the discussion in the tutorial sessions. The division of topics roughly matches that between traditional and broad security studies. Together both courses cover the full range of topics, themes and theories in contemporary Security Studies. Reorganizing the topics is only a small part of our approach, however; the main thing is putting cadets in charge of class discussion and, thereby, of applying theory to practice. In this way we entice students to make the effort themselves.

The consequence of our approach is that we, as teachers, cannot have preconceived ideas about how exactly the theories should link to military practice; having “the right answers” ahead of the course would defeat the purpose. What we do have is an overall notion that IR theory is useful because it helps officers to understand the factors that shape the behavior of potential allies and opponents. Within this broad frame, we strive to be open to our students’ ideas.


[i] Zalewski, M. (1996). “’All these theories, yet the bodies keep piling up…’ theories, theorists, theorizing.” In Smith, S., Booth, K., & Zalewski, M. (1996). International theory: Positivism and beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[ii] E.g. George, A. L. (1993). Bridging the gap: Theory and practice in foreign policy. Washington, D.C: United States Institute of Peace Press. Nye, J. S. Jr. (2008). “Bridging the Gap between Theory and Policy.” Political Psychology, vol.29 no.4: 593-603. Walt, S. M. (2011). International affairs and the public sphere. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univ., John F. Kennedy School of Government.
[iii] E.g. Zalewski, “‘All these bodies’”, 1996. Eriksson, J. (2014). “On the Policy Relevance of Grand Theory.” International Studies Perspectives, vol. 15 no.1: 94-108.
[iv] I use cadet as the inclusive term for students of all branches, including naval cadets. Students in the last year of the BA program can reach the rank of officer cadet, or midshipman; all of these are included except when specifically noted.
[v] Ishiyama, J., Miller, W.J., and Simon, E. (2015). Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
[vi] Maliniak, D., Peterson, S., Powers, R. and Michael J. Tierney, M. J. (2015). “Notes from the Ivory Tower.” Foreign Policy, available at: (last checked May 6, 2015).
[vii] For an overview, see Buzan, B., & Hansen, L. (2009). The evolution of international security studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[viii] Osinga, F. P. B. (2007). Science, strategy and war: The strategic theory of John Boyd. London: Routledge. Bousquet, A. (2008) “Chaoplexic Warfare or the future of military organization”, International Affairs vol.84 no.5: 915-929.
[ix] Goldgeier, J.M. (2013). “The academic and policy worlds.” In Williams, P.D. (2013). Security Studies, An Introduction 2nd ed., London: Routledge.
[x] E.g. Sabatier, P. and Mazmanian, D. (1980), “The implementation of public policy: A framework of analysis. Policy Studies Journal, vol.8 no.4: 538–560. Matland, R.E. (1995), “Synthesizing the implementation literature: The ambiguity-conflict model of policy implementation.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, vol.5 no.2: 145-174. See also Krulak, C. C. (1999). The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War. Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, available at: (last checked May 6, 2015).
[xi] This paragraph borrows extensively from Klinkert, W. (2012). Mars naar de wetenschap: het streven naar de wetenschappelijk opgeleide officier, 1890-2011. NLDA.
[xii] The Dutch educational system distinguishes between universities and “hogescholen” (polytechnics) which offer practice-oriented education at a somewhat lower level; in countries that do not make this distinction most of these programs are also university programs.
[xiii] A Master program in War Studies was established in 2013, also under MoE oversight. This program is not a part of the MoD’s career training courses. I lack the space to discuss it further in this article.
[xiv] Separating the BA from the practical military training and the Faculty from the training staff has the disadvantage that cadets divide their time between the two. Incidentally, the continuing division of practical training between branches means that naval cadets and midshipmen experience these pressures and time constraints at different times than their army colleagues and, separately, their airforce colleagues and their marechaussee colleagues; the decade-long, ongoing process of developing a common time-table constitutes an interesting case study in bureaucratic politics.
[xv] Williams, P.D. (2013), Security Studies, An Introduction 2nd ed., London: Routledge.
[xvi] The cases were: South-Sudan civil war (ISS1 tutorial sequence); Mali civil war; the rise of ISIS (tutorial sequences in previous courses); Yemen civil war and Saudi intervention; and the crisis in Ukraine (single session exercises).
[xvii] Ministerie van Defensie (2010), Eindrapport Toekomstverkenningen Defensie, available at: (last checked May 4, 2015).
[xviii] Our current textbook (Williams 2013) does a good job of describing the debates. While the authors of the various chapters usually show where they stand, they happily don’t agree.
[xix] Pallister, K. (2015). “Teaching globalization and development through a simulation.” PS, Political Science & Politics, vol.48 no.2: 364-367. Pallister describes the benefits of simulation games as “increased student engagement, development of teamwork skills, and potentially improved student learning”, which is in line with our teaching philosophy. However, simulation games are scripted in advance by the teacher and usually stand apart from other class sessions, which makes them harder to integrate into the discussion. (They are also time-consuming to set up; see also Glazier, R. A. (2011) “Running Simulations without Ruining Your Life: Simple Ways to Incorporate Active Learning into Your Teaching.” Journal of Political Science Education, Vol.7 no.4: 375-393.) By contrast our improvised simulations are set up collaboratively and quickly, can be started, stopped, resumed or modified on the go, making it easier to integrate them into the surrounding class discussion.
[xx] Eriksson, “On the policy relevance of theory”, 2014, 100.
[xxi] Eriksson, “On the policy relevance of theory”, 2014, 101.
[xxii] Eriksson, “On the policy relevance of theory”, 2014, 101.