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Teaching in the Department of Social Sciences


The Department has a long history of involvement in activities beyond teaching courses in economics and political science. The Debate Team has been active continuously since 1932, and indeed a Debate Society was active here before the Civil War. The Student Conference on United States Affairs --known here by its acronym of SCUSA --was first convened in 1949 and is the oldest student conference in the United States.
The Debate Council and Forum (DCF) is the umbrella organization for many of these activities, providing administrative oversight for SCUSA, the Debate Team, the Domestic Affairs Forum, the Model United Nations Team, and the Finance Forum. In addition to these DCF activities, the Department also administers two summer programs for cadets, Crossroads Africa and the Summer Intern Program. Finally, the Department promotes various scholarship programs in public affairs for West Point graduates. Each of these activities is described in more detail below.
Extracurricular activities reinforce our teaching efforts. They promote cadet, understanding, and interest in domestic and international political and economic affairs. They hone cadet analytical skills, enable cadets to compare their educational experiences here with those of their contemporaries elsewhere, and encourage cadets to build friendships beyond the Military Academy. Competitive and excursion trips also expose the cadets to senior leaders in government, academia, business, labor and the media.
These activities are also beneficial to faculty members. The DCF and summer programs provide instructors supervisory roles in one of the activities. Cadets compete in intercollegiate debate throughout the academic year. The emphasis is on education in the techniques of political analysis and persuasive speaking; competition provides the test of the cadets' ideas and a showcase for their skills. Officers participating in the program as coaches gain several important benefits. First, debate provides an opportunity to engage cadets in the kind of sustained intellectual relationship that is seldom achieved in the classroom. The cadets work one-on-one with their coaches, and the intellectual exchange is intense and rewarding. Second, by traveling with the team and meeting highly dedicated educators from civilian universities, officers can gain valuable perspectives on classroom techniques as well as insights on persuasive oral communications.
Finally, the personal rewards of coaching a cadet debate team from novice standing to national competition are tremendous. Few educational activities combine the short and long-term benefits of coaching debate.
The annual USMA Debate Tournament is an important aspect of the team's activities. The cadets organize and manage the tournament each October, hosting top students from across the United States for a weekend of outstanding competition. Every other year, the Debate Team also hosts a debate between West Point and the Royal Military College of Canada. Each of these events provides the cadets with opportunities to plan and execute complex operations while also emphasizing the Military Academy's commitment to academic excellence.
The team's competitive schedule includes more than 20 tournaments at schools from Massachusetts to California. Hard work and determination are the watchwords of the cadets on the team. Although the season makes extraordinary demands upon cadets --our best debaters will spend 10-12 hours per week on debate activities from early September to mid-April --the benefits are well documented.
The Student Conference on United States Affairs (SCUSA) is one of the largest and most visible extracurricular activities. Each fall, the conference brings together approximately 200 undergraduate and 50 senior participants from throughout the nation and the world.
The conference is built around student round tables that have either a regional or a topical focus. Round-table participants conduct policy analysis in the areas of interest and produce policy recommendations in a final report. Senior participants come from the highest levels of government, the media, and academia.
The conference is planned and executed by the Department of Social Sciences with the help of a substantial cadet staff. Department personnel supervise all conference activities and develop the conference theme and its conceptual framework. Instructors recommend cadet SCUSA participants based on classroom performance and assist cadets as they refine their positions and polish their academic skills.
SCUSA is an opportunity for members of the Department from every academic stem to become intensely involved in an extracurricular activity that promotes intellectual development. SCUSA not only serves the purpose of educating cadets, but it also educates visiting delegates and senior participan1s on the quality of both the students and the academic program at West Point.
The Department also sponsors cadet participation in student conferences at other colleges and universities. Each student conference has a specific theme, usually related to some significant international issue. Cadets routinely attend conferences at the Air Force and Naval Academies, Texas A&M, and Georgetown. Cadet preparation for the conference involves intense study of issues related to the conference theme and, in s()me cases, preparation and presentation of a paper. Department members often serve as round table moderators at these conferences.
The Domestic Affairs Forum, which offers over 100 cadets the opportunity to expand their understanding of domestic poli1ics and economics while having fun at the same time. The DAF's program is structured around four major trips, each of which is designed to expose the cadets to four distinctly different levels of activity –small
international consensus, team members gain an appreciation for the difficulty of balancing national interests with the need for multilateral solutions.
The goals of the West Point Model United Nations team are four-fold:
  1. To encourage vigorous debate on issues that are of vital importance in the arena of international relations and on the issues that transcend boundaries and affect the future of humanity.
  2. To develop an understanding of the structure of the United Nations, its strengths and weaknesses, and the scope and depth of the issues facing the organization.
  3. To understand the dynamics of the international system and the role of the United Nations in contributing to global cooperation, peace, and order.
  4. To provide a practical experience in multilateral diplomacy and to develop written, verbal, interpersonal, and organizational skills.
Cadet delegations are invited to a number of different Model UN simulations sponsored by schools such as Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Georgetown. A cadet delegation is assigned to represent a particular country in the simulation. In preparing for the conference, cadets study the major issues that will be discussed, examine past positions of the country they will represent, and prepare the position papers they will present at the simulation.
The culmination of Model UN activity is the national Model UN in New York City each spring. Here, cadets compete with students from colleges and universities throughout the United States. In addition, cadets get to work closely with the members of the UN delegation of the country they represent. The fact that the cadet Model UN team won an "Outstanding Delegation" award while representing Libya at the national Model UN conference one year is ample testimony to the effort that the cadets devote to their preparation for Model UN competition.
The faculty advisor for the model UN team is chosen from the members of the Department of Social Sciences. The advisor serves as an academic mentor to the cadets in their research preparation and as a policy advisor at competitive conferences.
Participation in both student conferences and model international organizations affords the cadets an excellent opportunity for intellectual growth. Cadets have a chance to learn more about a specific issue, and they share their opinions with students from other colleges and universities. In so doing, they listen to other points of view, and learn to evaluate critically their own perspective. These activities allow cadets to extend their intellectual experience outside the classroom and inject excitement into the process of learning.
The Finance Forum has four major activities. It sponsors guest speakers, operates an Investors Club, organizes trips and holds monthly meetings. The Forum’s guest speaker program addresses a range of investment topics. This program draws on investment counselors and brokers who have extensive experience in considering and recommending investment opportunities. Recent topics have included selecting a broker, the use of Value Line Investment Service, the fundamentals of fixed income securities, and the operations of money market funds.
The Investment club permits interested cadets to invest funds personally and decide jointly which securities their “fund” will buy. A cadet can purchase from one to ten shares at $25.00 per share each year; at the end of the year the “fund’s” capital and all gains and losses are distributed to shareholders. Thus through the actual experience, cadets can learn the fundamentals of investing.
The Forum also organizes one trip each semester to the New York City
Financial District. Cadets visit the New York Federal Reserve Bank, the Commodities Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange and several brokerage houses. Cadets are briefed n exchange activities, the operation of the banking system, and the procedures of brokerage firms.
Finally, the Forum holds monthly meetings to permit cadet and office discussion of financial and investment matters. These discussions include research techniques on a variety of investment vehicles, the state of the various sectors of the economy, and specific opportunities.
The Forum emphasizes thorough research, logical thinking, and discipline in investment activities.
The role of cadets and officers varies in each of our activities. In all of them, an officer ultimately is responsible for appropriate execution; however, our aim is to involve cadets wherever feasible in organizing, planning and implementing each trip and home event. Cadet involvement in all DCF activities should be significant, whether organizing the annual West Point Debate Tournament or planning the Domestic Affairs Forum trips to New York City and Washington, D.C.
The rules that govern these activities are found in a number of places. For all DCF and summer activities Regulations, USCC and USCC Regulation 28-1 on extracurricular activities provide specific guidelines for trips and home events. For all activities, established operating procedures are maintained in the form of constitutions, year-end planning letters prepared each spring, standardized operating routines for conferences, and extensive files that detail procedures for all events.
Budgets for all extracurricular activities are supervised by the Department's Budget Officer, with each activity director or an assistant monitoring expenditures.
Funding for activities is provided from a range of sources, to include both appropriated and non-appropriated funds. Where cadets and officers are attending competitive events or conferences, TDY funds usually are available. For excursion trips where cadets are visiting dignitaries, the cadets may be required to pay their expenses and for some of their transportation costs.
The Academic Individual Advance Development Program sends cadets, usually in their first class summer, to participate in an academically enriching experience throughout the world, in Washington, DC or elsewhere in the United States. The program has expanded substantially beyond the two programs discussed below so that most Social Sciences cadets will have the opportunity to participate in some form of AIAD.
The Cadet Summer Intern Program has been sponsored by the Social Sciences Department since 1967. Starting as an informal, un-funded program largely run by friends of the Department living and working in Washington, it has evolved into a regular Department activity in which cadets are sent TDY to a variety of agencies. The purpose of the Summer Intern Program is to place a small, select group of cadets in various government agencies for a two-month period. During this time, the cadet will be employed in some capacity deemed appropriate by his or her immediate supervisor. Ideally, the cadet will be assigned a project that is manageable during the period of the internship and which will have direct policy-making implications.
Over the past fifteen years, cadets have served in various positions. Currently, cadets are being allotted to the following agencies: State Department, Defense Department, Office of Management and Budget, Congressional Budget Office, Congressional staffs, and SHAPE. Cadets are always enthusiastic and curious about the program, particularly those who are Social Sciences concentrators and majors. The program, however, is open to all cadets regardless of their academic interests.
The Summer Intern Program is a major department activity enjoying enthusiastic support from cadets and faculty alike. Instructors in the Department should be aware of the basics of the program and encourage those students who seem to have particular aptitude in our disciplines to consider applying.
Operation Crossroads Africa, Inc., is a non-profit organization dedicated to building mutual understanding and friendship between the people of Africa and the people of the United States. In 1982, Crossroads celebrated a quarter century of service in the cause of international development and educational exchange. Over the past twenty-five years this organization has sent more than 5,000 American students to 37 countries in Africa. President John F. Kennedy credited Crossroads with providing a model for the Peace Corps.
The Military Academy first sent cadets to Africa in 1961. Since then, for eight weeks each summer between three and five USMA cadets have been able to see and touch traditional and modern Africa in a way seldom possible for a westerner. The Crossroads experience is a grassroots one: living with and sharing in the daily lives of people in an African village while working on a self-help development effort.
Like all American Crossroaders, the cadets join with African students and villagers in building rural schools, working on agricultural projects, or helping communities preserve their cultural traditions.
Typically, cadets describe their work as "back-breaking," their living conditions as "difficult," and their problems as "frustrating." Yet they all report a tremendous sense of accomplishment from their summer project. In addition, they all note aspects of personal growth as well as professional development during their summer's experience. The nature of the Crossroads program forces the cadets to fact the essential challenge of leadership. They gain a unique perspective on the great difficulties and greater rewards of working with a small group in the accomplishment of a meaningful mission, under the most difficult of conditions.
Crossroads is currently funded by the Association of Graduates and the West Point Chapter of the Daughters of the United States Army. After their return, Crossroaders provide briefings on their summer experience for numerous USMA organizations, hereby helping to inform a significant portion of the Corps of Cadets on Africa. The selection process for Crossroads is similar to that used by the Summer Intern Program. Department officers should encourage cadets interested in public affairs to apply
Members of the Department traditionally have assisted in the identification and development of selected cadets as they compete for a number of nationally recognized graduate scholarships and fellowships. Among the most noted are the Rhodes Scholarships, the Marshall Scholarships, Truman Scholarships, the National Science, Foundation Graduate Fellowships, and the Olmsted Scholarships. A complete description of the process involved for each scholarship can be found in the Dean's Policy and Operating Memorandum (DPOM) 2-11.
The Rhodes Scholarships are administered by the Rhodes Trust of Oxford, England, and are tenable at the University of Oxford for two or three years of study immediately after graduation from USMA. Possible applicants for the scholarships are screened in the Second Class year, and must be accredited by the Scholarship Committee of the Academic Board. Once accredited, candidates compete with outstanding students from other colleges and universities before state and district selection committees. Thirty-two Rhodes Scholarships are awarded annually to American undergraduates, and USMA currently ranks fourth in awards of the scholarship (behind Harvard, Yale, and Princeton).
The Marshall Scholarship program was established in 1953 by the United Kingdom government as an expression of British gratitude for the European Recovery Program instituted in 1947 by then Secretary of State George Marshall. The scholarship enables citizens of the United States to study at the university of their choice in the United Kingdom for a period of at least two academic years. Possible applicants for the scholarship are screened in the Second Class year, and must be accredited by the Scholarship Committee of the Academic Board. Once accredited, candidates compete with students from other colleges and universities at the regional level. Awards are made primarily on a regional basis, although some may be awarded at-large. Up to thirty Marshall Scholarships are awarded annually. USMA cadets have competed since 1982; 11 cadets have won Marshall Scholarships.
Truman Scholarships are awarded during a cadet's Second Class year. The scholarship provides a $3,000 grant to support undergraduate academic endeavors and two years of graduate study leading to a master's degree at any accredited university in the world. Both the grant and the two years of funded graduate study can be deferred. Studies should prepare the recipient for public service; i.e., careers in the military, government, public administration, public health, social services, human resource development, or conservation and environmental protection. Candidates are screened by the Scholarship Committee during their Third Class year.
As one means of aiding the progress of science and engineering in the United States, the National Science Foundation sponsors Graduate Fellowships to individuals who have demonstrated ability and special aptitude for advanced training in science or engineering. Fellowships are awarded for study or work leading to masters or doctoral degrees in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering and social sciences. The social sciences include such areas as Economics, International Relations, and Political Science. Possible applicants for the scholarships are screened in their Second Class year.
The George Olmsted Foundation established the Olmsted Scholar Program in 1959 in cooperation with and in support of the Department of Defense and the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Program is intended to provide young officers and their families a truly unique educational, professional and developmental experience by immersing them in a foreign culture while the officer studies in a foreign language in the field of his or her choice.
Each year the program selects two officers from each of the service academies and one officer from each service who has earned a regular commission through other officer training programs. Each officer receives educational and travel grants for a two-year period of study in a foreign university. The program provides a follow-on third year of graduate schooling in the United States, if the scholar's service approves.
Although officers are often designated as Olmsted Scholar candidates at the time of their commissioning, it is not until two to six years later that these individuals are considered by their service for further nomination to the Foundation. For this reason, USMA cadets who display exceptional leadership, language expertise, and outstanding ability in public affairs should be identified to the Department of the Army.
The Scholar's field of study is selected in concurrence with his or her service, but social and political sciences and international affairs are preferred, though not required. The Foundation also allows individual choice in selection of the language, country, and university, although "clustering" of Americans is avoided. Language training is provided to both the scholar and spouse.
The variety of extracurricular activities sponsored by the Department provides another dimension to our teaching and to our research efforts. Faculty members find experiences with extracurricular activities both intellectually stimulating and fruitful for classroom discussions. Additionally, they promote cadet-faculty contact and understanding. Clearly, our extracurricular activities confirm Haggadah's observation in the Fourth Century: “I have learned much from my teachers, and from my colleagues more than from my teachers, and from my students more than from all.”