This weeklong seminar will cover the evolution of the American conduct of war from World War II to current operations in Afghanistan. We will first study the works of modern military theorists: Clausewitz, Mahan and Corbett, and Douhet and Mitchell. We will then discuss fundamental terms and concepts such as the levels of war, strategy, doctrine, combat powers, the center of gravity, and the principles of war. A common understanding of these terms gives us the ability to communicate effectively and to analyze and think critically about war. We will then discuss and analyze America’s wars from World War II to the present. In each of the wars we will discuss US policy and political objectives, the American culture of war and strategic doctrine, national and military strategies, theater strategies and shifts in strategy, operations, technology and doctrine, and in some cases, tactics. Civil-military relations, the national command structure, inter-service rivalry, and the media are additional topics that may be discussed.
The big picture: understanding the post–World War II transformation in the conduct of war. World War II was the last total war fought by the major powers on Earth. The atomic bomb ushered in a new era, the age artificial limited war, the age in which we currently live. While the nature of war changed, with the introduction of artificial restraints on war, American thinking about the conduct of war stayed fixed on total war. In Vietnam the inability of the American people to reconcile their understanding of war with the new American practice of artificial limited war resulted in a crisis that ultimately destroyed the war effort and the US Army. What emerged in the aftermath of the Vietnam War were an all-volunteer force and a way of war that deemphasized the human nature of war and overemphasized the technological nature of war. In this seminar we will discuss and analyze this fundamental transformation in the American practice of war.
Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. Please check back soon for a list of readings.
Travel & Accommodations
There are several options for traveling to and from Chicago. The following are some guidelines to help you plan your trip. Both Midway and O’Hare International Airports serve the City of Chicago. The two main cab companies in Chicago are Checker Cab and Yellow Cab, and you can hire one by calling 312-829-4222.
Workshop participants will be housed in a local hotel and will share rooms. Please check back for more information.
Meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Each summer seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar.
Participants traveling internationally or from Alaska and Hawaii receive a $500 stipend in lieu of reimbursement upon completion of the seminar.
Applicants to seminars should note that supplements will not be given in cases where the $400 allowance is insufficient to cover all travel expenses. Our reimbursement policy has changed from previous years. For more information on our policy click here.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information click here.
Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.