Photo of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in the sky

Nation’s first graduate degree in military ethics is launched at Case Western Reserve University

While military ethics have been studied for more than 2,000 years, the field has lacked a common entry point for professional training—until now. Case Western Reserve University has established the nation’s first graduate program in the field.

Shannon French
Shannon French, leader of the new degree program and the Inamori Professor in Ethics

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Military Ethics program formalizes a field of study that contends with questions of how advancing military technologies relate to the common humanity of both enemy and ally.

While the study of military ethics has long supported humanitarian goals, such as preventing unjust wars, war crimes, and other atrocities, students in the program will be trained in emerging areas of ethical consideration, such as cyberwarfare, human enhancement, and the use of new weaponry, including unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called “drones.”

Case Western Reserve is currently accepting applications for classes that begin fall semester of 2017. The deadline to apply for full consideration for fall admission is April 10, 2017; however, applications will continue to be accepted on an ongoing basis for rolling admission.

Designed to prepare students for career advancement or teaching in military ethics, law, foreign affairs, veterans affairs and other fields, the program is taught by faculty experts in an array of topics, including international relations, public policy, journalism, history and others.

“There are a wealth of opportunities in military ethics and a need for more people trained to research and make tough policy decisions on complex ethical questions that have significant implications all over the world,” said Shannon E. French, leader of the program, the Inamori Professor in Ethics at Case Western Reserve, and director of its Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence.

French speaking at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
French speaking at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 2015 / photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

“Embracing and leveraging our ethical values in meaningful ways helps us establish allies and work for peace and sets a powerful example,” said French, also a co-associate editor of the Journal of Military Ethics and the General Hugh Shelton Distinguished Visiting Chair in Ethics with the U.S. Army.

Program basics

  • Students can complete the degree in one year or at their own pace.
  • Graduates will earn a specialized degree that stands alone, pairs with a law or other advanced degree or serves as a stepping stone to a PhD program.
  • The curriculum is designed for students seeking to enter government, policy and foreign affairs fields, including humanities and social sciences undergraduates; mid-rank military officers who often pursue a graduate degree to achieve senior rank; military chaplains, who are tasked with being ethical advisors to those in command; as well as law students and professional students whose future careers may intersect with military issues.
  • Coursework includes military ethics, international and humanitarian law, international relations, military bioethics, human rights, comparative religion and wartime journalism.
  • This program received approval of the Chancellor’s Committee for Graduate Studies in January 2017 and has been approved by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Code of the Warrior
  • Case Western Reserve recently became the host institution for the International Society for Military Ethics.
  • French, author of The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values, Past and Present, taught for 11 years as an associate professor of philosophy at the United States Naval Academy and served as associate chair of the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law.
  • The degree program is based in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Philosophy and is offered in partnership with the School of Law, College of Arts and Sciences’ Departments of Art History and Art, Classics, Political Science and Religious Studies, and the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence.