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Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law

Midshipmen Independent Research


Title: Empowerment and Organizational Change
Midshipmen: MIDN Ansley White and MIDN Natalie Wallace
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joe Thomas

Abstract:  Preliminary research conducted within the Brigade indicates that many midshipmen have both the interest and desire to affect change within the Naval Academy in order to improve the caliber of its graduates.  This course of study will explore and evaluate the current systems for midshipmen-led change in support of the institution’s call for midshipmen empowerment.  Quantitative and qualitative data collection in the form of surveys, focus groups, and consultation of subject matter experts will inform Academy-specific recommendations for Brigade leadership.  The end product be presented to LEL faculty and Brigade leadership on the effectiveness of current midshipmen empowerment systems in order to expand independent research opportunities for select midshipmen interested in Brigade-specific amelioration.


FALL 2013

Title: “Confidence: Its Definition, Acquisition, and Value for Midshipmen”
Midshipman: MIDN Allison Reitmeyer
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joe Thomas

Abstract:  Confidence is an essential leadership trait that is most impacted by individual’s experiences and knowledge of self.  Defining confidence allows people to being to understand ways in which they develop confidence and the role it takes in their leadership.  In exploring the idea of confidence several officers and midshipman were interviewed and asked a series of questions about confidence.  Each individual described personal experiences and how they have shaped their understanding of confidence.

For more information, please view MIDN Reitmeyer's final video project.

Title: “Read, Write, Speak, Listen: The Lincoln Model of Developing Skills in Oratory”
Midshipman: MIDN Sarah Fogleman
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Joe Thomas
Abstract:  President Lincoln is remembered as one of the greatest orators of his time. This independent study addresses three main questions: What characteristics of Lincoln's speeches and their delivery made them great? How did Lincoln develop these skills in oratory? And how can these methods be applied to the leadership development curriculum here at the United States Naval Academy? These questions are addressed in an analysis of Lincoln's speeches, his learning habits during adolescence and young adulthood, and a proposed addendum to the NL310 lesson on communication.


Title: “Media Portrayals of Women Leaders”
Midshipman: MIDN Katie Davidson
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Judith Rosenstein, CDR Dave Smith
Abstract:  Popular media reflects trends of more women entering high-level leadership positions in the workforce, but to what extent are these women’s experiences accurately reflected in the media.  We know real world women face many work-family conflicts related to gender norms that are tied to the roles of men as breadwinners and home for women as nurturers (Correll, 2007, Blair-Loy, 2001).  These role conflicts can be problematic for women in their roles as working mothers (Cech & Blair-Loy, 2010; Ridgeway, 2001; Rudman, 2011).  The portrayal of a limited population of women leaders in high-level positions needs to be socially responsible since the mass media has an impact on women’s self-images, which can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies for real females in terms of gender roles.  This research considers the question of how women are portrayed in the media, focusing on sitcoms of the Fall 2012 season available on the free Hulu website since this site is easily accessed by college women, the rising cohort of female business leaders.  I assess how women are portrayed, focusing on relationship interaction with subordinates, demeanor, and attire as well as whether they have children or are married, while controlling for the gender of the director/producer and writers.  I expect to find women leaders portrayed as iron maiden figures in which their leadership style is at odds with their roles at home.

FALL 2012

Title: “Cicero’s Philosophy for Statesmen: Civil and Military Responsibility in Designing State Policy”
Midshipman: MIDN Sam Oat-Judge
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Joseph Thomas

Abstract:  Roman philosopher and statesman Cicero (106-43 BCE) wrote extensively on Roman Republican political philosophy and served much of his life in government positions. He wrote in a climate of political collapse and transition, the storied Republic giving rise to Imperial Rule during his lifetime. Dedicated to the spirit of republican government, Cicero devoted his later life to instructing future public servants in the principles of republican rule by writing political philosophy. He did not adhere to a particular school of thought but focused on defending the virtue of republican government and providing a working, meaningful example of proper leadership. 

The lessons of Cicero’s time for modern American leadership are seen in the Roman Republic’s militarization of policy and eventual collapse due to weak generations of leadership that had lost sight of the founding ideals of the Republic and were instead absorbed in what he called the three threats to policy. Faced with ineffective rule, military leadership seeks to fix the crisis of civilian leadership (or take advantage of it, depending on perspective) by asserting itself into policy-making, bringing a militarization of the state and eroding civil society. When leaders lose sight of Cicero’s lessons for good statesmanship and their founding national ideals, policy suffers. With a lack of focused civil leadership guiding foreign policy, the political arena most important to a republic’s military, the military establishment seeks to increase its power and take greater control over decision-making. Regardless of motivation, this challenges the very nature of civil society and places the survival of a republican government in grave danger. 

MIDN Oat-Judge presented his paper at the McDonough Leadership Conference in Marietta, Ohio on April 13th, 2013.

Title: “Secondary Trauma and Ethical Obligations for Military Psychologists: Preserving Compassion and Competence in the Crucible of Combat"
Midshipman: MIDN Michael Bertschinger, MIDN Alicia K. Snell, MIDN Amber Jeter
Faculty Advisor: Prof. W. Brad Johnson 
Abstract:  Current ethical guidelines require psychologists to self-assess competence and take steps to limit or discontinue clinical work when they can no longer render competent care. Yet even in the best of circumstances, human beings—psychologists included—are not very good at evaluating their own competence. Moreover, when psychologists are deployed to combat zones and work constantly with severely traumatized and injured service members, evidence suggest that they become vulnerable to compassion fatigue and secondary trauma syndromes. In this article we consider the unique threats to competence faced by military clinical psychologists (MCPs). We conclude with several specific recommendations for deployed MCPs themselves and for the community leaders tasked with training and supervising them.


Title: “Building Warrior-Scholars: An in-depth look at warrior-scholar theory, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain as exemplar, and its application at the Naval Academy”
Midshipman: MIDN Jonathan Poole
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Joseph Thomas
Abstract:  In warfare, there tend to be leaders and officers that stand out from the rest. There is a common belief in a warrior-scholar leadership model. The model was developed over the course of martial history and has been mastered by few. The first section of the paper will seek to define a warrior-scholar and the never-ending quest to achieve a 3000 year-old mind.  In the following pages, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of 20th Maine during the civil war will serve as the exemplar for the model. The final section will seek to apply the 3000 year-old mind and the lessons of Chamberlain to the midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy.
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