Naval War College Offers First-Of-Its-Kind Ethics, Emerging Technology Certificate

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U.S. Naval War College (NWC) is introducing a graduate certificate this fall in Ethics and Emerging Military Technology (EEMT) for degree-seeking U.S. students on its campus.

During the fall trimester, seven incoming students were enrolled in the EEMT certificate course that has been designed to examine the ethical and military relevance of emerging technologies and apply their understanding to the challenges to the modern security environment.

Around two dozen applied for the course.

“We were very pleased with the amount of interest among the incoming student body,” said Tom Creely, associate professor in the College of Operational and Strategic Leadership and one of the faculty responsible for getting the certificate off the ground. “It greatly exceeded our expectations and showed there was a considerable interest in this field of study.”

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NWC leadership thinks that this high level of interest is typical for the type of students at the school.

“Many of our students are over-intellectual achievers. For those capable, we encourage them to seek challenges here,” said Lewis Duncan provost at NWC. “This type of certificate is most attractive to students who are higher-level thinkers.”

One student feels that this certificate fills a gap for him.

“I hope to use the information I gather here to further my career,” said John Ramiccio, a student in the course and part of the Defense Senior Leader Development Program – a Department of Defense program to develop senior civilian leaders to excel in the 21st century joint, interagency and multi-national environment. “Policy is way behind technology right now, and I want to make sure that I’m in front of emerging technology.”

The area of emerging technologies includes artificial intelligence, genetic manipulation, neuro enhancements, cyber, cryptology, nano-engineering, 3D printing, robotics, and unmanned air, surface and subsurface systems or drones.

“We want to help the Navy develop this intellectual capacity,” said Tim Schultz, associate dean for electives and research at the school. “This course of study addresses problems with the ethical framework for technologies that could potentially escape human control or challenge our traditional view of warfighting. These issues require much more analysis and deep thought, and we want to develop that here.”

The EEMT certificate is the only graduate certificate offered by the school and may be the only certificate on the ethics of emerging technologies offered nationally, according to Creely.

To attain the certificate, students are required to take four elective courses from an approved list of relevant courses in ethics and technology and complete a professional paper over their nine-month stay at the school. Students who are not seeking the certificate take three electives over that same period. These electives are in addition to all required master’s degree coursework in the school’s three departments, Joint Military Operations, National Security Affairs and Strategy and Policy.

The course grew from student interest in a single course offered previously by the college.

“Last year, the provost and I taught an elective on ethics, technology and society and it became quite apparent that rapid development of technology and the ethical concepts and implications of the technology needed to be viewed from ethical perspectives,” said Creely.

“We felt there was a need for our future leaders to be thinking about the implication of technology,” he added. “Our objective is to challenge the students’ thinking on what does it mean to be human in an age of technology. Those are the concepts that we will begin questioning in the course. The students should come out of sessions with more questions than answers.”

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