What to expect at the Strategic Broadening Seminar (SBS)

Information about SBS curriculum, faculty instructors, reading, grading and participation

You should expect a first-class educational experience during which you will be challenged and you will challenge each other. Be ready for a very different experience than what you have had since joining the Army. Be ready to read selections as diverse as Plato’s Republic, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, case studies in international relations and scholarly articles on China’s relationship with her Asian neighbors.

Be ready to listen attentively, take notes and question members of the faculty during their lectures. Be ready to engage one another and our faculty during round-table discussions and seminars. These sessions will rely on you being a driver. Be ready to engage in thinking about and writing up your own research and reaction project. You will need to be an active learner as well as a co-educator of your fellow participants. In sum, be prepared to enjoy yourself intellectually in the classroom.

Embrace the opportunity. Step up to the challenge. Prepare to lead.

The Curriculum

Effective leadership in the 21st century requires specific knowledge, an ability to think critically and imagine creatively, a willingness to reach people where they are in their cultural environment and an ability to consider strategic issues while executing on tactical goals. The McConnell Center’s Strategic Broadening Seminar is designed to help the participants develop these skills while providing them essential information about strategic issues, regional concerns and policy-making in the United States.

The guiding vision of the McConnell Center's leadership development programs has been honed over the last 28 years. Three concentric shapes encapsulate the overall understanding of leadership that guides our leadership education. The center circle represents the individual decision-maker/leader (knowledge, psychology, emotional intelligence, trust-level, and communication ability). The next triangle represents the context or immediate environment the decision-maker/leader finds him-or herself in (the environment/context for a Brigade Commander is very different than that of a First Lieutenant). The wide rectangle represents the cultural environment within which the decision-maker needs to act (the culture of the U.S. Army is different than the culture of a tribal area in Mali, which is not equivalent to the culture in urban Seoul).

The Strategic Broadening Seminar will have three overall foci under which specific seminars, lectures and experiential opportunities will help participants learn to be better leaders and strategic thinkers for the needs of the U.S. Army functioning in the contemporary world environment.

I. National Security: Constitutional Government and Policy-Making in America

  • Civilian-military relations
  • The Constitution of the United States: Foundations and Practices
  • War Powers
  • Foundations of National Security and Federal Budgeting
  • National Security Debates and Perspectives
  • Foreign Aid, Military Force, Intelligence operations and other arms of American influence overseas

II. Strategic Issues in the International Environment (emphasizing concerns of the Pacific Asia Command & Russia)

  • Understanding other cultures and environments
  • Developing issues in regional security
  • History of US-Region relations
  • Developing economic, environmental, political issues
  • Political dynamics in region nations

III. Leadership Development: Becoming a Better Leader, a Better Follower, and a Better Strategic Thinker

  • Opening the Leader’s Aperture: Ideas, Literature & Imagination
  • Leadership Roles in Contemporary America and the World
  • Personal Strengths and Weaknesses & Skill Development
  • Communication Skills/Media Relations
  • Imagining the “Other” & Imagining Solutions
  • The Art of Followership
  • Getting the Most Out of Your Team & for Your Team

Typical Week

  • Most Sundays will be free, and we will try to give you one other day of the week that is mostly free for you to study and prepare.
  • You will be in the classroom most weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • At least one Saturday and several evening events will be required and optional events will be offered during evenings and on the weekends.
  • You will have much reading to do in your downtime, so we urge you to start as early as possible and get as deeply into the reading as you can before you arrive.
  • Our week on the road to Washington, DC, will be very different as it will involve much moving around the nation’s capital and attending meetings with many different decision-makers and thinkers.


McConnell Center Director Dr. Gary Gregg will provide faculty leadership. Dozens of other faculty have been chosen from the University of Louisville and from institutions around the nation based on their expertise and reputation for excellence. Most of our faculty have taught in this program for the past five years. A complete list of faculty will be available on the Seminar webpage and in packets distributed upon your arrival. 


During the Seminar you will be tasked with reading a wide variety of literature, ranging from government documents and military case studies to excerpts from classical political philosophy and history. The reading will be challenging but has been chosen by the faculty to specifically fit the needs of the planned classroom discussions. You will be expected to read between 20 and 80 pages for each day in class. To facilitate the reading, faculty will provide study questions and guidance where applicable. Many of the specific seminars will rely on your having read the material and being prepared to discuss it with your fellow participants and the faculty. Faculty will not expect you to have fully understood the readings on your own but will expect you to have given them a thoughtful read before class.

Research Projects

Each soldier will choose an individual research project or will choose to work as part of a small team to explore a wider topic related to our classwork together. These active learning projects will allow soldiers to combine their personal experiences, classroom learning and research discoveries toward solving some key issues facing the U.S. military, American public life, or encouraging fellow soldiers in their own efforts at self-education. All projects should be worked on with the goal of it being worthy of publications, including in the McConnell Center’s “Meditations” newsletter. More details on this project will follow closer to the start of the Seminar.

Grading & Participation

You are taking part in the Strategic Broadening Seminar because the leadership of the US Army has deemed such an experience to be beneficial to its rising leaders. You are not taking part in the seminar to get college credit, and the faculty will not issue you a letter grade. You will be expected to actively participate in all classroom experiences and team projects, and your level of preparation and participation will be recorded. The faculty and administrators reserve the right to refuse course certification to any participant who is not an active participant in all academic elements of the Seminar.