Admiral and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael G. Mullen will be returning as a guest professor to Princeton this coming fall. He will be teaching the seminar WWS 318: U.S. Military and National and International Diplomacy, which he first taught in the fall of 2012.
Mullen held the post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 and was involved in overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Before coming to the Wilson School for the first time in 2012, he also oversaw the operation to assassinate Osama bin Laden.
Mullen said that he is looking forward to returning to the University because he has a passion for education and enjoyed interacting with students at the University. He added that he was unfortunately not available to teach this year because of family commitments.
“Part of the reason I was so excited to come in the first place, and am equally excited to return is because it gives me a chance to interact with young people and also to some degree impart my experience … in real world events that were very complex and very serious,” Mullen said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.
Vice Dean of the Wilson School Keith Wailoo noted that the positive responses of students who took the course in fall 2012 motivated the decision to invite Mullen to return.
“And it’s not every day that you can take a course from a decision maker like Admiral Mullen,” Wailoo added. “We are very lucky to have any of his time.”
The course he is teaching, Mullen explained, studies preeminent American diplomats stretching back to Benjamin Franklin but also examines historical US military endeavors to determine what lessons can be learned from them.
However, Mullen also placed the topic of his course in a larger context, explaining that his broader concern is the detachment of the military from the American people. He noted that the military makes up less than 1 percent of the American population and that the American people were limitedly involved or affected by the recent wars.
“I am a big believer that we have to work hard to create a better understanding between the American people and our men and women in uniform,” Mullen said. “And that’s a two way street.”
Former Princeton ROTC member and current Second Lieutenant in the US Army Zachary Beecher ’13 took Mullen’s class when it was first offered and said that the experience was exceptional. He explained that Mullen brought both an incredible amount of professional experience in pivotal moments of US military history and also invited distinguished guests to speak to the class regarding the creation of national security policy.
The final project for the class, Beecher noted, was to identify and analyze key studies of US military diplomatic power, and the findings of the students’ research were presented to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Beecher also noted that he thinks the Wilson School should expand the scope of what it studies, for example by offering more courses on timely topics related to the US military.
“We all hope, I think, as Princeton students, that no matter what people do with their education that they will eventually be a voice in their community,” he said. “My only hope, especially as an officer in the military, is that we have an educated populace that understands what using the military means.”