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History Department

Course Description

Following the Persian Wars of the early 5th c. BCE, the Athenians produced great works of art, architecture, literature, and philosophy. We tend to think of these things as a testament to democratic culture.

While there is no doubt that this flowering of what is generally known as Classical Greece was a great achievement, it was only possible because of an oppressive naval empire.

What You Will Learn

  • The history of the Athenian Empire.
  • Sharpening critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills by examining themes such as the interrelationship of democracy and empire, military ethics, and the nature of power.

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Course Description

From summer blockbusters to political discourse, the Crusades continue to resonate from Europe and the Middle East to the United States and Brazil. But what, exactly, were "The Crusades"? In this class, we will explore multiple European expeditions to the Holy Land between 1099 and 1291, as well as the foundation and fate of Crusader kingdoms. But the crusading movement generated a much wider array of military expeditions, and we will also study violence against Jews, wars with Egyptian and Iberian Muslims, and persecution of European heretics and Baltic pagans.

We will trace confused and changing Christian ideas of religious warfare, which not only needed constant defense against critics, but also generated twin developments in the Islamic world. And finally, we will seek to understand the widely varied experience of crusading, from soldiers marching to the Holy Land to Muslim residents of Crusader states to the families and loved ones the crusaders left behind. If you are interested in medieval history, cultural and religious interaction and conflict, religious tolerance and intolerance, and/or how these events have been remembered throughout history, this class is for you.

What You Will Learn

  • Historical arguments over crusading and religious warfare
  • Cultural interaction, conflict, and exchange between medieval Christians and Muslims.
  • How to question traditional definitions of crusading and evaluate its resonance in modern political discourse.
  • How to read and critically assess primary sources written by historical actors

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Course Description

This course will explore the tumultuous one hundred and twenty years in France between the rise of the Napoleonic Empire and the cataclysm of World War I. It will ask how enduring political and social conflicts in France impacted the country and the world during the long nineteenth century. Midshipmen will investigate enduring tensions between democracy and dictatorship, capitalism and socialism, and the ideals of universal rights and imperialism. They will also consider how French military power transformed the history of Europe and the world by analyzing the long term impacts of the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian War, and World War I.

What You Will Learn

  • How did Napoleon impact French and European history?
  • What were the origins and consequences of 19th Century revolutions in France?
  • How did social and cultural changes impact French art and literature?
  • What were the origins and impacts of France's rivalry with Germany?
  • What was the French experience of World War I?

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Course Description

Students will assess Soviet films as representations of the Russian Civil War and World War II, the seminal events of Soviet history. No background in Russian or Soviet history is required.

What You Will Learn

  • Understanding film as a form of historical interpretation
  • Developing an appreciation for the traumas of Soviety history,
  • Develop an ability to view films critically

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Course Description

What made Britain great? This course explores the transformation of Britain from an absolutist and backward monarchy in the seventeenth century to the world's most powerful empire by the nineteenth century. Tackling issues of nationalism, identity, war-making, and economic development, the course explains why a few rainy islands on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean became one of the envies of the modern world.

History majors have much to gain from this course but it is also designed to appeal to all those with an interest in the exciting histories of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

What You Will Learn

  • Understand the background to the seven majors wars fought by Britain in the eighteenth century
  • Appreciate how the United Kingdom was created out of four different nations each with its own histories, cultures, and languages
  • Understand how political, financial, and economic developments transformed Britain into a global power
  • Gain a new appreciation of the United States' most enduring and important ally

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Course Description

A study of early twentieth century American social, economic, and political history beginning with the transition from the Gilded Age to the Progressive era, culminating with the New Deal era and the second World War. Designed for historians by nature, but not necessarily by major, this course encourages a comparative analysis of events and movements of the Progressive era and Interwar years with current events and popular movements within our present American society.

Students should have a basic knowledge of 19th and 20th century American history and a be able to juxtapose the past and present events in a historical context.

What You Will Learn

Students will

  • conduct an exploration of early 20th Century American historiography
  • construct a comparative analysis between populist movements in the first half of the century and today
  • exercise examining current events in a historical perspective
  • effectively deliver multiple written argumentative essays throughout the semester.

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Course Description

Race and ethnicity, religion, class, gender, sex and sexuality: Everything you need to know about American History to be the life of the party. We open our study with the age of exploration and conquest where competing cultures interacted to create the diverse American colonial society – and end just after the societal upheaval of the Vietnam War when society began to come to terms with inequalities still present in our society.

Along the way we'll see the clash of cultures, plagues, religious fervor, and political intrigue and war. If you think the study of American history is only about memorizing dates – you're in for a surprise.

What You Will Learn

Concepts covered include:

  • the transformation of the American family;
  • religious revivals and democracy;
  • how prophetic leaders succeed and how they fail;
  • utopian communities;
  • the real "Old West";
  • race and ethnicity;
  • masculinity and honor;
  • Atomic Culture;
  • the fight for Civil Rights;
  • the 60s generation;
  • & feminism and gay liberation

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Course Description

This course will explore political, economic, social, and other forces that have shaped development of the United States over the centuries. It will address timely issues such as race, gender, and immigration, and how the past informs current controversies over them. The course will also help students understand why America rose to become a great world power in the mid-twentieth century, and the consequences for the country and the world.

What You Will Learn

  • Become familiar with the entire arc of American history--from the country's colonial origins to the present.
  • Better understand persistent themes in our national story like the issue of race, the urban/rural divide, the debate over the proper role of government, and the causes and consequences of American expansion.
  • See the "big picture" of U.S. history and how the past informs the present--and future.

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Course Description

HH360 explores the History of the U.S. South from the colonial era to the 21st century. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of the plantation economy, the role of slavery, the impact of the Civil War & Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow and the origins and evolution of the 2nd Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The course will conclude with the modern South.

What You Will Learn

  • The impact of slavery on African Americans
  • The role of racism and sectional identity
  • The significance of the Civil War & Reconstruction on the region and the dismantling of Jim Crow with Civil Rights

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Course Description

This course traces the historical development of the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries in North, Central, and South America along with the Caribbean from the early nineteenth to late twentieth centuries. We pay close attention to the interplay of race, class, and gender as it has shaped the formation of national identities and policies over the past two hundred years.

The course also highlights the interactions between peoples and the government of the United States in Latin America. The course is designed to give students a broad coverage of the patterns of historical development in Latin America.

What You Will Learn

  • Gain geographical knowledge of Latin American countries and capitals
  • Understand the key themes and issues related to contemporary Latin American history in terms of politics, economy, & society
  • Develop an appreciation of the complicated role of the United States within the region

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Course Description

The United States and Africa have a relationship that extends back to the 1600s. We will examine how this cultural, political, and economic relationship developed over time, and in particular the impact of the U.S. on Africa in the 20th century and beyond.

This course introduces students to America at its best, and its worst, encouraging students to address hard questions of how the United States can best exercise its influence for good.

What You Will Learn

  • The story of Liberia, America's "colony" in West Africa
  • How the U.S. fought the Cold War in Africa
  • American efforts to ameliorate poverty and human suffering in Africa
  • U.S. responses to conflicts in Somalia, Sudan, and Rwanda

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Course Description

Samurai! Earthquakes! Kamikaze! "Japan Since 1800" examines over 200 years of Japanese history to provide an introduction to the experiences of "Modern Japan." Beginning with the waning decades of the Tokugawa Shogunate, this course investigates a succession of consequential occurrences in the history of Japan, including the Perry Expedition of 1853, the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the establishment of the Empire of Japan and colonial rule in Korea, the Second World War, the postwar Allied Occupation, the era of "high growth" during the postwar period, and turn-of-the century crises such as the 1995 sarin gas terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

In addition, you will expand your understanding of the U.S.-Japan relationship since its origins in the mid-1800s. Historical source materials include novels, films, manga, and visual culture (Japanese-language skills are not necessary for taking this course).

What You Will Learn

  • How did Japan transform itself from a "closed country" in East Asia into a global power?
  • How have the people of Japan experienced and interpreted modern-day moments of national crisis?
  • How have the Japanese people's views of their own state and society evolved over time?

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Course Description

Walk with the Buddha as you retrace Siddhartha Gautama's steps on his path to awakening. Study the historical background of this extraordinary Asian prince who became one of the world's great teachers. Learn the practice of mindfulness so that you can acquire the focus and equanimity central to this belief system.

You will learn about "popular Buddhism" as practiced by people both famous and anonymous. You will see how Buddhism's influence on public discourse and private lives has evolved from the premodern to the modern era.

What You Will Learn

  • You will learn the details of the Buddha's life; this is a great approach for discovering how he arrived at his insights and how his disciples interpreted his teachings.
  • You will explore Buddhism as experienced by Asians over the last two centuries. Students will read illustrative vignettes drawn from mainland Southeast Asia, with a strong focus on the cultures of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
  • You will apply Buddhism's tenets -- especially impermanence and mindfulness -- in your own lives as midshipmen and beyond.

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Course Description

This course is designed to introduce Midshipmen to a broader history of what in the West we call 'Hinduism' and its relationship with violence. But 'Hinduism' is a recent term, largely coined in the early 19th century in colonial India. For thousands of years, Indians called their tradition sanatana dharma (the timeless 'duty'/'order').

But the '–ism' implies a uniformity of doctrine, liturgy and theology that historically did not exist. This course aims to probe and explore the historical development of a broader set of traditions that sometimes sees itself as 'ahistorical' – that is not linear in time - and its relationship with violence and how Indians grapple with the taking of human life and harm.

What You Will Learn

  • Why do some Indians call themselves Aryans?
  • Why is ontology (the study of being) so central to Indian self understanding?
  • Why are cows revered in India?
  • Why are Hindus largely (though not exclusively) vegetarian?
  • What are karma and dharma?
  • Is Hinduism really non-violent?

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Course Description

In 2011 many Egyptians took to the streets, demanding the "downfall of the system". But to what system were they referring? Did they mean simply the ruling "regime", as is the most common translation in Western sources? Or were they referring to something deeper? Cries for "bread, freedom, and social justice" were also heard in 2011. Were these new demands? This course tries to answer these questions, and many more. It traces the history of Egypt over the last 500 years, with particular attention paid to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

It approaches Egyptian history through several historiographic lenses including environmental, gender, intellectual, military, medical, economic and subaltern histories. It grapples with the legacy of colonialism and its lingering impact on the Egyptian state and security apparatuses. This course explores how Egyptians have understood and reacted to their historical experiences. It also calls attention to the challenges of decolonizing history and transcending imperial narratives.

What You Will Learn

  • You will be able to identify and explain factors that shaped change over time in modern Egypt, particularly the impact of colonialism.
  • Understand Egyptian history in a regional and global context.
  • Have a deeper understanding of how Egyptians have wrangled with Egyptian identity and its relationship to Europe and the "West".
  • Have a better understanding of the challenges facing Egypt today.
  • Be exposed to a range of unique perspectives and methodologies for analyzing history.

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Course Description

This course will trace the flow of Iranian history and culture from ancient times to the present day. It will focus on six distinct eras: (1) Ancient Iran, (2) the rise of Islam in Iran, (3) the Safavid era, (4) the impact of Europe on Iran, (5) nationalism in early modern Iran, and (6) the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Islamic Republic.

What You Will Learn

  • Increase proficiency with historical methods, including primary source research and investigation, as well as historiographical analysis.
  • Enhance understanding of trends, forces, and individuals that have shaped Iran as well as the historical roots of its contemporary situation.
  • Deepen understanding of the diversity of human experience across Iranian history.

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Course Description

HH373 examines the history of Christianity from its origins to the early 20th Century. It pays particular attention to problems of authority and text; to the development of doctrine and practice; and to the vast diversity of the tradition within and across cultures. This academic, non-sectarian course is intended for anyone--Christian or not, religious or not--curious to know more about the complicated, messy, and endlessly fascinating history of Christianity.

What You Will Learn

Students will complete HH373 with:

  • An awareness of the tremendous variety of cultural expressions of Christianity.
  • An understanding of the problems of authority and interpretation that have been present in Christianity from its origins to the present day.
  • Experience in discussing religious questions impartially, critically, and empathetically.
  • An understanding of Christianity's often problematic relationship with politics and political institutions.

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Course Description

For most of history, engineering was art seen first in the mind's eye. So, how did engineering graph paper take over? This course examines the history of engineering knowledge, culture, education, professionalization, and practice with approximately half the course focusing on the history of engineering in America.

What You Will Learn

  • The historical relationship between art and engineering
  • How engineering practice is rooted in culture
  • Development of professional standards for engineers
  • Nature of the change in engineering education in the 20th Century
  • Detailed studies from aeronautical engineering on how engineers design

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Course Description

The Holocaust was a genocidical program of murder that killed 5.7 million Jewish Europeans. The event is now 80 years in the past, and we are reaching a historical moment where the voices of those who lived through the event are no longer directly accessible.

Going forward, we will be more and more dependent on historical, memorial, and communal narratives to explain these events. This course explains how, post-1945, scholars build historical and non-historical narratives to explain the Holocaust and its meaning.

What You Will Learn

  • The historiographical chronology of how one explains the Holocaust (from 1945 to the present)
  • Key terminology in the historical and cultural debates--perpetators, victims, uniqueness, modernization, mastering the past, denial, and causality.

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Course Description

This course provides a basic introduction to the field of wargaming in historical context, emphasizing its use in the applied history of the U.S. Navy's strategies and operations. It begins with the fundamental principles of wargaming and game design. Students will be exposed to a range of design philosophies which vary in purpose, style, and format. The course centers on student teams researching, designing, developing, and play-testing an original educational wargame on a topic related to the history of the U.S. Navy. Course instruction will be a combination of lecture, gameplay, and discussion – drawing upon both professional and commercial wargames.

Assignments will guide the development and refinement of the students’ original wargames to teach and inform your fellow students about a focused aspect of U.S. Naval history. Students will be graded for completeness of their wargames, their creativity, the rigor of their research, and the playability of their wargame. At the end of the semester, students will demonstrate and run their wargames for an audience of defense and military professionals and students in similar courses at other institutions. Circumstances permitting, the course will provide external wargaming opportunities – such as participation in other student wargames, attending wargames, and demonstrating student wargames for military personnel.

Overall, the course will consider a wide range of questions in order to provide students with a deeper understanding of wargaming and its uses: what makes a good or bad, more or less insightful wargame? What design philosophies, techniques, and tools can be used to craft wargames? How can wargaming be leveraged as an educational tool? What are the strengths and weaknesses of wargaming as a methodology for studying history? And how can wargaming improve decision-making and stimulate clearer thinking?

What You Will Learn

  • Develop working knowledge of wargame design;
  • Sharpen research skills, critical thinking, and analytical skills;
  • Create an original educational strategic wargame.

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Course Description

Sweeping overview of the origins and development of religious ideas and practices from pre-historic to contemporary times with special attention to material culture including objects, spaces, and the activities associated with them: reading and writing of scripture, disciplining and displaying human bodies as worship sites, demarcating and visiting sanctuaries, acquiring and distributing animals, and performing violence. Focus on the role of religion in the formation and maintenance of social identity and hierarchy, gender and sex, and the meaning of death.

What You Will Learn

  • reading and writing of scripture
  • disciplining and displaying human bodies as worship sites
  • demarcating and visiting sanctuaries
  • acquiring and distributing animals, and performing violence

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Course Description

The pandemic surge of COVID-19 caught many off-guard in 2020, but not that long ago in history it was a given fact of life that at least one-third of the people you knew will die from a random disease. As late as the nineteenth century, Smallpox ensured a worldwide infant mortality rate of nearly 50 percent. These microscopic titans have terrorized mankind for thousands of years, and the modern human is less frightened by invoking the names of Smallpox, Plague, Yellow Fever, Cholera, Typhus, Diphtheria, or Tuberculosis.

The lasting and far-reaching impacts of these diseases are often overshadowed because they are rejected by the modern mind that has never known death in the streets from a virus or bacteria. By studying these diseases and the epidemics they caused from Antiquity to COVID, we will explore the significant social, cultural, and military impacts that shaped the evolution of medical care and the modern world. This course will also examine basic principles of virology, epidemiology, and immunology while seeking to understand the pathology, morphology, etiology, and symptomatology of major epidemic diseases throughout history.

What You Will Learn

  • Identify changes in social and medical factors that were shaped by the impact of epidemic disease over time.
  • Summarize and explain basic medical theories and terminologies in the etiology, morphology, epidemiology, and symptomatology of the major epidemic diseases of history.
  • Describe and analyze historical medical trends in disease identification, treatment, and therapeutics.
  • Comprehend and explain how epidemic disease has impacted the social, political, and military traditions of the world.
  • Describe how epidemic disease is represented and remembered through literature, religion, and law.
  • Prepare students to consider a unique aspect of physical history, and train future officers to consider operational dynamics beyond purely what is visible and measurable.

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Course Description

This class surveys the dimensions of warfare and civil-military relations from the end of World War II to the present.

What You Will Learn

  • Learn about the key military events shaping the Cold War & the New World Order.
  • Learn some of the reasons why recent wars were won - and lost.

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Course Description

This course is a history of the United States Marine Corps from its founding in 1775 until the twenty-first century. Its purpose is to familiarize students with a basic narrative concerning the growth and development of the Marine Corps over time. Like the Army and Navy, the growth of the Marine Corps has coincided with the growth of American economic, military, and naval power. We will discuss how this peculiar amalgam of traditions and jurisdictions has affected the Marine mission, identity, culture, and history.

The Marine Corps is a warfighting institution. Therefore, attention will be devoted to its history of combat operations across the breadth of the United States' military and naval history. It's development from ships guard’s and naval landing parties to the modern-day Fleet Marine Force is a complicated and complex evolutionary process. Much of that evolution was informed by the conflicts that the Marines fought at home and abroad.

The Marine Corps is also an American institution comprised of men and women from all walks of life. That was not always the case. How the Marine Corps came to more accurately reflect the makeup of the general population along social, racial, and gender lines will be an important question that we discuss throughout the semester.

The Marine Corps' own institutional culture will be a frequent point of discussion. We will explore the Corps' world view, ethos, image construction, myths, legends (often a mix of truth and fiction), and purpose. The Marine Corps, like the Navy, Army, and Air Force is a military means to a political end subject to the perceived needs of Congress and the American people. It is not an end in and of itself. Therefore, we will discuss how the Corps has found itself dependent upon the goodwill of the society that it serves.

What You Will Learn

  • Express ideas clearly and precisely in written form.
  • Describe the Marine Corps' evolution (both as a social institution and a warfighting organization) between 1775 and the present day.
  • Analyze and explain the Marine Corps' impact on American strategy, foreign relations, and society.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in historical research, to include the use of primary and secondary sources.

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Course Description

Insurgency and counterinsurgency are hardly new phenomena. The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the history, theory and doctrine of irregular warfare, with a focus on modern counterinsurgency warfare.

The course will also explore factors that have influenced U.S. irregular warfare success/ failure as well as introducing the concept of a globalized insurgency to prepare students for the challenges of dealing with emergent non-state entities.

What You Will Learn

  • Context. Successful counterinsurgents must understand the operational and strategic environments, especially the socio-cultural aspects of the indigenous population groups. Additionally, insurgency and counterinsurgency may occur within the context of larger events or grievances.
  • Dynamics of Insurgency. The dynamics of insurgency are a framework to evaluate insurgencies over time. The dynamics include: leadership, objectives, ideology, operational approaches, external support, internal support, phasing, timing and organization.
  • Principles of Counterinsurgency. Certain principles of counterinsurgency provide a framework to evaluate specific campaigns over time. These principles include: understanding the strategic and operational environments, legitimacy, unity of effort, political primacy, intelligence driven operations, isolation of insurgents, expropriation of the insurgent cause, security under the rule of law, long-term commitment, management of the narrative and expectations, use of the appropriate level of force, learning and adapting as an organization, empowerment of the lowest levels in the chain-of-command and support of the host nation.
  • Efficacy. One of the key outcomes for this course is for the students to be able to evaluate the efficacy of specific insurgency and counterinsurgency campaigns. What worked? What did not? Why? These are key questions for your future.

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Course Description

Over the course of centuries, naval professionalism has developed through the active and intellectual writings and engagement of officers and civilian maritime leaders. Including subjects such as strategy, leadership, policy, and professional conduct, the intellectual history of navies in general and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in particular have been expressed through professional and historical writing. This activity accelerated at the close of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth.

The development of a "naval mind" requires an understanding of this history of naval thought and maritime intellectualism. This course is a reading and writing intensive program to study the development of that naval thought. It is particularly focused on the long 20th century as a period of intellectual development for the U.S. sea services and world naval understanding. This course is not designed as a program to "teach you what to think" about the past and present of the naval profession. Instead, by reading and discussing the naval professional writing of the past the goal is for you to begin synthesizing it to do your own thinking about the services you will be joining.

What You Will Learn

  • Gain a general understanding of the intellectual development of naval thought, particularly American naval thought, across time.
  • To develop a sense of the themes of American and international naval thought and theory, including but not limited to historical philosophies on leadership, strategy, professionalism, and technology. In doing so, to be able to identify key naval thinkers and key ideas as they have progressed across the intellectual history of 20th century naval professionalism.
  • To practice "naval thought" and intellectual development by synthesizing and analyzing the historical writings of past naval professionals and writing your own.

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Course Description

Naval history is filled with examples of what we think of today as "transformative" innovations. While many of these developments are quite well known, the difficulties involved in making effective use of them are far less so. Through examination of primary and secondary sources, we will seek to understand how some of the most famous paradigm shifts in 19th and 20th century naval history--steam propulsion, long-range gunnery, wireless communication, carrier airpower, and others--came into their own. In doing so, we will develop an understanding of why some innovations succeed (and become famous) while others fail.

What You Will Learn

  • Students will gain an understanding of the process of military innovation and its effects through historical case studies.
  • Students will gain an understanding of why some military innovations succeed while others fail.
  • Students will apply what they have learned about patterns of innovation to more contemporary naval problems.

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