Teaching Common Sense
The Grand Strategy Program at Yale University
By Linda Kulman
How is critical thinking taught? How will the next generation cope with an ever-changing and increasingly complex world?
These are questions that the Grand Strategy program at Yale seeks to address. The Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy seeks to revive the study and practice of grand strategy by devising methods to teach that subject at the graduate and undergraduate levels, by training future leaders to think about and implement grand strategies in imaginative and effective ways, and by organizing public events that emphasize the importance of grand strategy.
The program defines “grand strategy” as a comprehensive plan of action, based on the calculated relationship of means to large ends. Never an exact science, grand strategy requires constant reassessment and adjustment. Flexibility is key. Traditionally believed to belong to and best-developed in the politico-military and governmental realms, the concept of grand strategy applies—and ISS believes is essential—to a broad spectrum of human activities, not least those of international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private businesses and corporations.
For fifteen years, the Grand Strategy program has been cultivating leadership skills of undergraduates and graduate students of Yale University. In Linda Kulman’s compelling book, we learn about this remarkable program from the inside, sharing the stress of the “murder boards,” the revelation of applying the classics to current geopolitical situations, and the crucial importance of fast decision-making under duress. Teaching Common Sense weaves together on-site reporting, archival research, and original survey data into an intellectual history of the Grand Strategy program.