The evolution of the curriculum of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, 1924-1988 : a search for rigor
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This study examined the curriculum evolution process of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) and its predecessor, the Army Industrial College (AIC), as it was influenced by a variety of factors between the years 1924 and 1988. Most of the published material used for this study was found in the library of the National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC. Additionally, current and past College faculty and staff members were interviewed.
Six main questions served to guide and focus inquiry for this study. These questions concerned how the curriculum evolution process was affected by (1) various influential persons, (2) recommendations of commissions and boards, (3) social, economic, and political phenomena, (4) military and civilian faculty, (5) educational philosophy, and (6) technological advances.
Using the historical method, the study identified five distinct periods in ICAF's curriculum history: 1924-1941, during which AIC's original curriculum sought to forestall a recurrence of industrial mobilization problems; 1943-1964, which saw the emergence of economic mobilization as the overarching curriculum theme; 1964-1975, a time when a strong leader completely restructured the curriculum theme to emphasize management and active learning; 1975-1984, a period when NDU was created as the joint college umbrella, applied behavioral science was introduced, and the curriculum theme returned to mobilization; and 1984-1988, during which the conceptual frameworks of joint and combined warfare and the systems approach guided the continuing search for academic excellence and rigor.
The study found that each of the potential change agents affected the way the curriculum evolved. However, the most influential factor was the occasional person who interpreted the significance of a multiplicity or phenomena in an innovative fashion, and consciously chose to restructure curriculum. Commandant, Lieutenant General August Schomburg and Dean of Faculty and Academics, Colonel Barry M. Landson, were the two most effective individuals in this regard. Consequently, the study concluded that, for the most part, curriculum planning was not an orderly, systematic, and analytical process. Generally, curriculum change was found to be incremental and often based on which subjects received greatest media attention or the relative argumentative forcefulness of proponents.
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