Page 90 - Cormorant 2019
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  The Quarterdeck Series
Lt Col Chris Fogarty
AT THE START OF ACSC22, DACSC highlighted the importance of
challenging ourselves and ‘thinking outside the box’. When
surrounded by a group of military officers with similar operational experiences and lengths of service, this can be rather difficult. The Quarterdeck series of lectures for this academic year took the theme of Consciousness and the Self, and exposed all attendees to genuinely different thinking.
The inaugural lecture from Dr Brian Sudlow was on “Silence, distraction and attention; Trappist Monks, smart phone addicts and Navy Seals.” It was fascinating. The premise was about how different cultures view silence, and the importance of disconnecting from the 24/7 information age to find peace in one’s thoughts. Although many on the course only seem to survive through the constant monitoring of WhatsApp and Twitter, the lecture provided an important insight about the power of mindfulness. The topic provided a different perspective; even just taking five minutes out to imagine what life would be like as a Trappist monk living
in silence helped us to understand different cultures.
The next lecture from Professor Roy Peachy on “The great acceleration” flowed logically from the previous one. The talk covered how many things globally have sped up and the examples used were mind blowing
- who knew that people now walk through city centres at a faster pace than they did 10 years ago? Among the recommendations for further reading, Friedman’s “Thank you for being late”
is vital for anyone interested in human adaptation to an age of acceleration.
One fundamental philosophical question is “Why is there something rather than nothing?” which was the topic of the next lecture. Ralph Stefan Weir spent 40 minutes discussing a number of different answers from prominent philosophers, expanding upon why these were not satisfactory. I left the briefing more uncertain than when I had arrived, but also with a healthy respect for philosophy students as they try to answer such fundamental and difficult problems. This question put the issues of Brexit, NATO’s current role and the UN’s relevance in an age of constant competition into sharp perspective.
The next set of lectures focussed on the expression of shared values followed
by the human and consciousness,
which continued to address questions about what makes us human and the importance of culture. In an age of Artificial Intelligence and automation, the relevance of these questions continues to grow. These briefs nicely dovetailed into later ACSC lectures on Hofstede, cultural intelligence and the human aspects of stabilisation, but were much broader in their focus and provided some lateral thought.
The final lecture was on “Making the world strange: the importance of fantasy” by Dr Alison Milbank. She discussed how fantasy can make us see the world differently and allows us to see them for what they really are by making them strange. This in turn provides a philosophical lens to focus on the issues that really matter. Myths and the stories that a society
tells are hugely important to that society’s culture, and in turn tells us a lot about who we are and what drives our actions. This echoes some of the thinking of ACSC 22’s Dave Calder, whose DRP discussed the importance of science fiction to the UK military.
The Quarterdeck lectures provide a wider perspective to expand students’ thought processes. Some have suggested including them in the mainstream ACSC syllabus, but having them in a more relaxed manner outside work has its benefits. The Quarterdeck series has provided a valuable insight into culture, consciousness and the self, which will be useful to those heading into staff jobs and command in the near future. Many thanks go to Lt Col Toby Courage and the committee for their efforts in co-ordinating this year’s series.
briefs nicely dovetailed into
later ACSC lectures on Hofstede... ◆◆◆

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