Naval War College Review


In these times of ethical uncertainty, especially among senior Navy leaders amid the ongoing “Fat Leonard” fiasco, we need to look to our roots. The Foundations of Moral Obligation elective, otherwise known as “The Stockdale Course,” has been a mainstay at the Naval War College (NWC) for most of the past forty years.

Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale, USN, the fortieth President of the College, collaborated with Dr. Joseph Brennan, a professor emeritus from Columbia University’s Barnard College, to develop the elective shortly after Stockdale assumed the presidency. Little did they know how popular the elective would become and the positive impact it would have on graduates over the years. The Foundations elective has become a part of the moral fabric of both the institution and the U.S. Navy.