Gloria Chang

MArch II & MDes RR, 2019

Organization: U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI

Sponsor: Joint Center for Housing Studies Community Service Fellowship

 

“To talk about the Naval War College (NWC) is to talk about Newport. The iconic Pell Bridge, steeply tolled and suspended high enough for destroyers to pass below, was constructed in anticipation of an extensive naval base. At the same time, the concentration of mansions to the south of Newport remain an attraction and testament to the island’s enduring status as a summer idyll for the wealthy and politically powerful, as well as local vacationers.

And some of these visitors are not even aware of the naval station next to them. Walking down the historic Thames street, with its offerings of small-batch toffee, seafood, and nautical themed goods, it may be possible to overlook the small island to the side, with its private roads and checkpoints. But once the awareness sets in, other military establishments come into focus: the Coast Guard station down in Point Judith, the Air Station over in Quonset, and the former Army post, Fort Adams, on the tip of Newport.

For the NWC, whose educational focus lies beyond naval knowledge or even wartime decision-making and extends to a program such as the HRP, each word of the College’s name is a practical misnomer. Located within a university which confers a singular degree in Strategy, the recently-developed Humanitarian Response Program is aimed towards bettering the collaborative efforts of civilian and military actors in disaster response efforts. HRP conducts workshops comprised of informational sessions and more in-depth simulations, involving officers and civilian leaders alike. This summer, the program will conduct sessions at RIMPAC, the largest international maritime warfare exercise, and host in Providence, at Brown University, the latter of which I will also attend.

Despite the layers of security involved in entering the base and accessing the computer network, the goals of the people here bear many similarities to parallel studies on the outside. Shortly after arriving, I was fortunate enough to sit in on the last class of the semester taught by my program. The officers here who matriculate at the NWC do not apply, but are selected to enroll and proceed to greater leadership, and come from many nations and branches of the military and government. Cautiously apolitical and conscientiously stoic, they showed substantive concern towards humanizing the military, reaching the public, and promoting international cooperation. In short, the concerns voiced here bear similarities to other fields and to the ones in my own program at the GSD, and we share the struggle to make specific issues more approachable to the general population and accumulate interest towards action.”