Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

Journal 17 September 2011

Whether or not I stay in the Deep South beyond the short run (1-3 years) will totally hinge on whether I enjoy my job and produce in and outside of the classroom .  I think Montgomery can work in the medium run (4-6) if I am thoroughly happy with work and nothing equally attractive surfaces, other things being equal.  Something better would be another military school or a liberal arts college.  I doubt seriously that I’ll find something that will pay me as well and provide the type of perks that I receive at the Air War College.   I am at the moment enjoying my job.  However, the acid test will come when I start teaching.

My teaching load this year is three courses.  I’ll pretty much teach one class at a time from mid October until mid May.  The first class I’ll be teaching is a team-taught course called National Security and Decision Making.  Basically, the course addresses the determinants of U.S. foreign security policies.  The curriculum is set and, mercifully, I do not have to give a lecture for this course.  The faculty does hold a seminar for each instructional period (IP) and professors lead individual seminars of 16 or so officers.   A member of our faculty or a guest speakers delivers a lecture for each IP.  A two hour seminar immediately follows.   I teach, on average, twice a week and each course has 16 IPs.  The same structure governs the third course I teach, Global Security.  This course is essentially a regional security studies class that examines U.S. national security issues in different regions of the world.  I am in charge of the Latin America IP and lecture.

The second course that I teach is called Regional and Cultural Studies (RCS).  I am entirely responsible for its design and content.  The neat thing about this one, at least for this year, is that we will have budget to take our students on a field studies exercise to three Latin American countries for approximately two weeks.   I selected Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil.  Depending on costs, we might have to shave it to two countries, either Mexico-Colombia or Colombia-Brazil.

Next year I will also offer an elective that I will design this year.  The tentative title of my course is something like this: “Varieties of Weak States and U.S. National Security.”  It will look at failing states around the world that pose the gravest threats to U.S. national security.  I agree with my comparativist colleagues that the concepts of “weak” and “failing” states are mushy and need to be sharpened.  This is something that I’ll be thinking about a lot this year as I read for this class and think about my next major writing project(s).   This course will have to be approved by the AWC Dean.

When I started writing this post I did not intend to summarize my teaching agenda.  This, however, is what came out for this journal entry.  At least you all know what’s on my mind tonight: my work.

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