Analyzing the Relationship Between the Military, Higher Education

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March 24 lecture and panel discussion will feature scholars and ROTC personnel

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PITTSBURGH—What are the roles and responsibilities of universities in bridging understanding between military and civilian populations? How has the relationship between the U.S. military and higher education evolved from the Cold War to the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy? 

University of Pittsburgh Professor of Public and International Affairs Ilia Murtazashvili and University of Wisconsin Professor of Political Science Donald A. Downs, as well as local military representatives and Pitt students will discuss these and other complex issues during the event “Arms and the University.” The free and public event—comprised of a lecture and panel discussion—will be held at 4 p.m. March 24 in the Lower Lounge of the William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland. 

The lecture and discussion will focus on many of the issues raised in Murtazashvili and Down’s book Arms and the University: Military Presence and the Civic and Liberal Education of Non-military Students (Cambridge University Press, 2012). The book probes the complex and sometimes contentious relationship between the U.S. military and American society as well as recent efforts to restore a closer relationship between the military and institutions of higher education. 

The lecture will feature Murtazashvili and Downs discussing their book and related topics. Following the lecture, prominent officials in Pitt’s and Carnegie Mellon University’s ROTC programs will join Murtazashvili and Downs in a panel discussion. The featured panelists are Captain Jeffrey S. Coran, a professor of naval science at Carnegie Mellon and the commanding officer of the Steel City Naval ROTC unit; Lieutenant Colonel Steven Hernandez, a professor of aerospace studies at Pitt and a commander of Pitt’s Air Force ROTC unit; and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Loeb, director of the Three Rivers Battalion Army ROTC unit at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Murtazashvili has taught in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs since 2009. His research and teaching interests include natural resource management, political economy, and the politics of economic development. In 2012, he was awarded the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs’ Donald M. Goldstein Award for Teacher of the Year. In addition to Arms and the University, Murtazashvili is the author of the forthcoming book Bandits within the State: The Political Economy of Property Institutions on the American Frontier (Cambridge University Press). 

Donald Downs is the Alexander Meiklejohn Professor of Political Science, Law and Journalism at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He is the cofounder and director of the University of Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy. He also is the president of the university’s Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights as well as the former director of the university’s Legal Studies Program and its Center for the Study of Law, Society, and Justice. In 2013, Downs received the national Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award for his defense of academic freedom and freedom of thought in higher education. 

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