Summer 2019 Advanced Individual Academic Development (AIAD) Opportunities


Robot Ethics

A fourteen-day traveling seminar that moves from West Point to London to Oxford University. Explore the capabilities of artificial intelligence in terms of ethical decision-making. The focus will not be on human agents and how they best employ technology, but on the technology itself as the agent. Fostering such autonomy in robots has largely been attempted through expressing rule-based ethical frameworks in programmable code. Yet, is such a moral calculus even possible? Cadets will engage with academic, professional, and governmental experts on questions of robot ethics and the use of autonomous systems in current and future wars. 

Ethics and Literature in Prague

This one-week AIAD has a two-fold purpose: to focus on the morality surrounding why and how wars should be waged, as well as to achieve a better understanding of how literature gives meaning to the human experience of war. Using 1940's Czechoslovakia as our backdrop, we will focus on key historical examples from World War II, including the assassination of SS leader Reinhard Heydrich, to facilitate discussion and learning regarding the application of ethical theory to historic events.

Writing Today

During their two-week trip to Washington, D.C., cadets research cutting-edge ideas about writing in seminars with faculty from elite peer institutions, including Johns Hopkins and the Naval Academy. They also discuss writing in a range of contexts with journalists from NPR and the Washington Post; with Smithsonian Museum and Folger Shakespeare Library curators; with Congressional representatives and aides; and with former CIA analysts and speechwriters in the White House and Pentagon.

Culture, Narrative, & Civil-Military Ops

In this 10-day AIAD, Cadets will begin to learn about Civil Affairs (CA) through immersion in a civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) course in Motta di Livenza, Italy. They will further strengthen our military relationships with our NATO partners, explore the complex socio-historical landscape of Northern Italy through a humanities and CA lens, and participate in actual training with the MN CIMIC Group. This is a three-phase AIAD with online training and reading of representative critical theory after Cadet-selection, OCONUS travel and immersion, and a final phase where Cadets will edit their immersion notes and publish a digital journal of their experiences.

From Graves to Hennessey: A Century of Literary War Remembrance

In 1929, ten years after the close of World War I, Robert Graves published his memoir Goodbye To All That. Eighty years later, Patrick Hennessey, another literary warrior, published his memoir The Junior Officer Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars which details his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. This 14 day AIAD in the UK gives Cadets the opportunity to achieve a better understanding of how literature can be used to shape and process wartime experiences and to provide cadets with an opportunity to study original source material. While in London, we will make three day trips. First, we will journey to the University of Oxford, Graves’ and Hennessey’s alma mater, as well as the home of a sizeable Robert Graves archive. Then to Caernaforn Castle in Wales to visit the Royal Welch Fusiliers museum. Finally, we will travel to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This trip will culminate in a dinner with Patrick Hennessey to discuss his experiences with both literature and war. 

Shakespeare’s History Plays

This ten-day AIAD will specifically study four history plays as we focus on the different ways Shakespeare’s kings developed their leader identities.  After study at USMA, Cadets will move to the UK in order to view the works on stage. As readers and viewers, cadets will study the transformation of Prince Hal to King Henry V, the Machiavellian King Richard III, and the disconnected and ineffective leader, King Richard II. As a result of our trip and study, we will reach a deeper understanding of the potential destructive influence of power on leaders and the importance of leading with humility, competence, and character. 

Thornwillow Institute Fellowship

The Thornwillow Institute is a non-profit run by a fine arts press located in Newburgh, New York. The business spans everything from concept and design, fine hand-pressed printing, and binding and distribution of fine editions of texts. The owner, Luke Pontifell, is trying to reshape his section of Newburgh into a 'maker space' for artists and other creatives and offered two fellowships to cadets to work with and in his enterprise, learning the printing trade and forging bonds between the Academy and Thornwillow Institute.