Two leading voices in military strategy, foreign policy and intelligence will bring a new Masters course to UNSW Canberra this semester.

Professors Clinton Fernandes and David Kilcullen will examine how lessons of the recent past could inform future conflicts.

“Contemporary Strategy is a Masters course that looks in-depth at one of the gravest decisions of all: the decision to use military force,” Professor Fernandes said.

Professor Kilcullen said that by taking a historical, contextual approach, students have the opportunity to understand strategy as it’s really made by institutions and policymakers in context, rather than as an isolated academic artefact.

“Strategy is fundamental not only to warfare, but also to national development, business, industry and personal success.

“Through the lens of military strategy, and by placing strategic decisions in historic context, we want to give students the ability to do strategy, not just think and write about it.”

Professor Fernandes said the course will survey significant modern geopolitical developments, the drivers of Russia’s conception of strategy, the impact of emerging technologies, jihadi ideologies and actions, Western strategies against jihadi groups and lessons from campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A country’s decision to use force can have far-reaching effects and Professor Fernandes said the fate of billions has been affected by recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider world.

“This course tackles these issues head-on, and does so from a critical perspective.”

The course is available to students completing a Masters program at the School of Humanities & Social Sciences.

“Anyone in Defence, the intelligence community, or Australian Public Service working at the strategic level would benefit from the course, as will people in business or industry interested in understanding the context and process for making key decisions that affect all of us,” Professor Kilcullen said.

Both professors are former Australian Army Officers and leaders in their fields.

Professor Kilcullen, a military strategist and counterinsurgency expert, has served in every theatre of the ‘War on Terror’ since 9/11. His appointments have included Special Advisor for Counter-Insurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chief Counter-Terrorism Strategist for the US State Department.

Professor Fernandes has a domestic track record in foreign policy, intelligence and the politics of technology. He has written a number of books on foreign policy spanning Australia’s relations with its Southeast Asian neighbours and the United States’ objectives in Australia. 

“We think the combination of these skills will benefit our students,” Professor Fernandes said.