Curriculum Evolution at Air Command and Staff College in the Post-Cold War Era
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This qualitative study used a historical research method to eliminate the gap in the historical knowledge of Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) curriculum evolution in the post-Cold War era. This study is the only known analysis of the forces that influenced the ACSC curriculum and the rationale behind curricular change at ACSC in the post-Cold War era from the publication of the Skelton Report to the present. Data for this study were gathered through personal interviews with past and present members of the ACSC faculty and leadership, and review of published and unpublished historical ACSC curriculum documents. Research for this study revealed that the ACSC curriculum was continually in flux during this time period. At no time did the ACSC curriculum remain exactly the same as the previous academic year. The curriculum was responsive to external and internal influences. External influences were the Skelton Report, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, the Air University Commander, and world events. Internal influences include the ACSC Commandant and the ACSC faculty. The most significant and radical changes to the ACSC curriculum originated with those individuals or groups of individuals in positions of authority over military education institutions, primarily the Skelton Panel, Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force, and ACSC Commandants. Many minor changes were made to the ACSC curriculum during this time. Significant curricular changes made were not lasting changes. New leadership at times eliminated all or large parts of the curriculum they inherited because of personal preference. The ACSC curriculum is therefore subject to potential cyclical curricular change coinciding with changes in military leadership, which averages every two years. This study concludes that the ACSC curriculum changed often, sometimes significantly, in the post Cold War era. The frequent curricular change frustrated many faculty members and led to periods of turmoil within ACSC. ACSC is not likely to realize a period of curriculum stability until the Air Force places limits on the scope of curricular change its leaders are allowed to make at ACSC without approval and considers assigning professional educators to leadership roles in its Professional Military Education institutions. This study recommends that the Air Force consider placing a system of checks and balances on the ability of ACSC Commandants to reinvent the curriculum and placing professional educators in the positions of Air University Commander and ACSC Commandant in order to slow the rate of curricular change and bring a level of stability to the ACSC curriculum.
Donovan, William Robert (2010). Curriculum Evolution at Air Command and Staff College in the Post-Cold War Era. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from