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culture and climate

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I thought Hunt did an excellent job of synthesizing the literature on culture and climate in chapter 10. The difference between culture and climate as he articulated it, is a common frame of reference for the Army. We consider culture to be the deep-seated and slowly changing values and norms that we take for granted as part of our soldiers creed in which lies at the bedrock of our profession. We consider climate to be the local conditions that are scoped by time and space and specific units in which can vary considerably based on your lineup of personnel.

We will actually use the analogy of the difference between climate and weather which is kind of unfortunate since by climate we really mean culture and by weather we been climate if you take my meaning.

An important take away for me from this chapter was the importance of the use of mixed methods to ensure that we get after all three layers or three and half layers of the onion skin complex that is culture and climate. It’s relatively easy to use questionnaires exclusively and stay in the quantitative realm, but I believe it’s very important that we use all of the methods and tools available to us while remembering that at best forgiving an approximation of the complete environmental description.

In all of my departments courses in blocks of instruction, I’ve added a number of quantitative and qualitative questions to have students describe the climate of education they find in the classroom to help us determine how well we are establishing conditions that promote adult learning. These are quite a bit different than our former strategy which looked almost exclusively at specific matters of content and assessment instruments. The other departments in the College seemed to be interested in this idea so hopefully we have turned the corner.

It seems problematic to me on how to approach multinational and global issues of culture with anything except qualitative tools. If the US and Great Britain are two people separated by a common language, what optimism can we have to truly gain deep understanding of more broadly diverse cultures. It’s a real problem.

We had a discussion in one of our campaign planning lessons today, in fact, on the different meanings of rule of law and the implications for nationbuilding. There are quite distinct and different meanings of the rule of law based on a background of English common law, a realm of law, Athenian law, Sharia law just to name a few. I am attaching a mind map i of a briefing that we developed in the classroom today that addresses just this issue in which we decided that the rule of law of some form was the only basis to avoid Huntington’s Clash of civilizations. That mind map represents a considerable shift in cultural appreciation for this generation of officers who are accustomed to looking at the world through Western eyes.

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