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"General Washington" is facing some tough choices

Students go on site to experience strategic challenges, supported by Eliot Cohen's Osgood Professorship
Posted April 13, 2017

Osgood Professor Eliot Cohen leads a staff ride in Gettysburg Osgood Professor Eliot Cohen leads a staff ride in Gettysburg

It's not easy being "George." Just ask the students of Eliot Cohen, the Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

His innovative "staff ride" program takes them to world battlefields — Vietnam, Gettysburg, Normany — where they assume the roles of generals, politicians, foot soldiers, and citizens and experience the strategic process firsthand.

Staff rides — case studies done at an historical event's actual location — originated in 19th century Europe as military training, says Cohen, who adds he's not aware of any other educational institution which has adapted it for scholastic purposes. He has been running the program for more than 20 years.

"This is completely interactive. Everybody has a role to play. We're all participants," according to Cohen. "The idea here really is to put students in the position where they have to think about the decisions that someone else made as if they were that person."

It's a lesson they'll remember when making their own tough choices later in life.

To learn more about how you can support faculty like Eliot Cohen, please contact Kimberle Morton, associate dean of development, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.