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NPS Leads Complex Operations Case Series Development

Article By: MCSN John Fischer

The Naval Postgraduate School held a complex operations case study writing workshop at the Asilomar Conference Center on the Monterey Peninsula recently in support of the Consortium for Complex Operations (CCO).

NPS Faculty constructed the workshop under the auspice of CCO, which was established by the Department of Defense to help U.S. Government education and training facilities achieve a more synergistic state, specifically with emphasis on Stability Operations, Counterinsurgency and Irregular Warfare.

"Several key studies identified a critical need for high quality case studies, particularly in order to generate teaching materials in a variety of disciplines," remarked Karen Guttieri, the Principal Investigator for the Complex Case Study Series and a Principal in the Security and Globalization Effects Initiative at NPS’ Cebrowski Institute.

The engagement of David Sobyra, the CCO Director, and key members of his team, contributed to the success of the Asilomar sessions, said Guttieri.

"The Asilomar workshop was the kickoff meeting for writers we identified to do the first round of case studies," said Maj. Glenn Woodson of the Security and Globalization Effects Initiative.

John Arquilla, a Professor of Defense Analysis and Director of the Information Operations Center, gave an introductory discussion about lessons learned from irregular wars, after which the training began.

Each day of the three-day workshop was devoted to a different step in effective case pedagogy, explained Guttieri, who is also an Assistant Professor of Public Policy.

The teaching sessions were led by Stephen Wrage, a Professor of Political Science at the Naval Academy; they focused on learning, teaching and writing case studies for educational purposes.

"The idea is to empower the writers up front, to set them up for writing a case study that would pass a peer review on the model of the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Diplomacy series," said Guttieri. This inaugural set of case studies is being made by 14 writers from a variety of disciplines, from NPS and around the globe, she explained.

"You can tell anybody to write a case study," Woodson said. "Getting someone to write an effective teaching case study is much more difficult."

Guttieri explained she used a "Learn, teach, write" system in order to bolster the confidence and abilities of the writers. "It's better to teach the case method at the beginning than to rely only on reviewing the cases later," she said. "We worked through some existing case studies together, and then we did some practice – in teams the participants taught case studies to one another. The actual writing workshop was last, but easier given [the order of] what had come before."

A view of future modeling applications for the development of further case studies was presented on the final day of the workshop by Don Brutzman, an Associate Professor of Applied Science with the Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation (MOVES) Program.

The NPS team was pleased with the results of bringing the writing group together in one place, Woodson explained.

"Having the writers interact and glean ideas and experience from each other was key," said Woodson.

The SAGE Workshop attendees.

The key now is to maintain direct contact with the writers, Woodson explained. The writers have gone back to their homes, their families, their jobs and all of their other daily challenges, he said.

"We keep in contact," Woodson said. "Now we're making sure the writers have the support they need to stay motivated."

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Posted March 03, 2009

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