Teaching Military Ethics Within a "Moral Operating System"
By Lieutenant Commander John P. Patch, U.S. Navy
We arranged the classroom desks in a circle to avoid any semblance of a traditional old-school lecture hall. Ground rules promoted mutual respect for diverse opinions. A forthright overture requesting feedback, and criticism, from the students further relaxed the atmosphere. I was surprised to realize that this relationship worked both ways: I was learning, too.
The nurturing environment of a private, liberal arts university steeped in the Augustinian tradition guaranteed a student body with a zest for the fruits of philosophy, literature, the hard and soft sciences, and, yes, even theology. A recently received Chief of Naval Education and Training (CNET) text that related numerous real-life military ethics scenarios provided a sound basis for discussion. At the beginning of each class, I gave the students an opportunity to relate an ethics case and, more important, to provide their own personal analyses and opinions.