The Wargaming Network at King’s College London is launching a new programme of educational activities to advance wargaming as an academic discipline. The initiative is funded by the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy’s Education Fund and the Department of War Studies.
Governments, thinktanks and universities are increasingly interested in using wargames for research and education purposes. Yet wargaming is only beginning to emerge as an academic discipline and is taught mostly at military universities in the United States.
The new King’s programme includes an MA module, short courses, a co-curricular training programme for students and staff. It also includes a public lecture series featuring authors of cutting-edge wargaming scholarship.
Dr David Banks, the Academic Director of the Wargaming Network, says: ‘Our ultimate goal is to place wargaming on solid epistemological and pedagogical foundations, and to make King's College a global centre for the study of wargaming.’ Banks joined the Department of War Studies in August 2020 as Lecturer in Wargaming. He is also the first faculty member at a civilian university to have wargaming in his title.
Banks is convening a new MA module in wargame design and analysis for master’s students at the Department of War Studies, together with Dr Aggie Hirst. Hirst, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of War Studies, is recognised for her empirical research on the phenomena of play and immersion and the US military’s use of wargames and simulations for teaching and training purposes.
'Because they impact upon players' affective, in addition to their cognitive, learning domains, wargames exceed current pedagogical theory and bring new possibilities and challenges to our teaching and learning practices in both civilian and military educational institutes,’ says Hirst.
Two short courses on wargaming in education and research respond to a growing interest among faculty, staff and postgraduate research students at the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy. Banks, Hirst and Ivanka Barzashka, the Managing Director of the Wargaming Network, are teaching the new courses. The lectures also feature Professor Wyn Bowen, Professor Matthew Moran, Dr Hassan El-Bahtimy and Dr Andrew Corbett who use wargames as part of their teaching at the Department of War Studies and the Defence Studies Department.
The co-curricular programme for strategic analytical wargaming trains postgraduate students, research staff and faculty to support King’s principal investigators who are collecting data and analysing wargames for research purposes. Barzashka established the initiative in 2017 as part of a project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Anna Nettleship, the Coordinator of the Wargaming Network, now leads the programme, of which she is also an alumnus.
This new Wargaming Network effort builds on a long history of wargaming education at King’s. Professor Philip Sabin, who retired in 2019, began teaching conflict simulation at the Department of War Studies in 2003. His students, including Barzashka and Nettleship, are playing leading roles in advancing wargaming theory and applications across the world.