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What can we know about pressing security challenges through wargaming? How do we know?

To mark the establishment of a new Wargaming Network, the School of Security Studies is launching a public lecture series on wargaming. The lectures will examine fundamental challenges for adapting wargaming theory and practice to usefully address contemporary security problems facing the UK and its NATO allies.

The UK and its NATO allies have revived their interest in wargaming as a tool for strategic, operational and technological innovation in a new strategic environment marked by the return of major power competition. While the value of wargaming as a method for learning and teaching is well-accepted, its value as an rigorous academic method of inquiry is still largely contested.

Dr Perla will re-examine the fundamental theoretical debate of whether wargaming should be considered an art or a science in the context of the changed security environment. The aim of the talk is to bring wargaming theory and practice to a new multi-disciplinary epistemological ground that would enable its useful contribution to advancing knowledge, informing policy and furthering education.

Prof Wyn Bowen, Head, School of Security Studies, will deliver the welcome address and Ms Ivanka Barzashka, Wargaming Network, will chair the discussion.

The lecture will address three sets of questions:

  1. Why has wargaming to-date been practised more as an art than a science? What have been the consequences of this approach for the wargaming process; the impact of wargaming products on scholarship, policy and education; and the professional wargaming culture?
  2. Does wargaming require a more scientific approach to usefully address contemporary security challenges? Can a scientific approach incorporate both quantitative and qualitative analyses?
  3. Can we reconcile diverging epistemological views to reap the benefits of wargaming as both an art and a science?