Integrating gender and cultural perspectives in Canada’s Professional Military Education: transforming military culture through informed leadership

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Brown, Vanessa Ashley Renee




This dissertation investigates and invests in the possibility for feminist transformational change within militaries as well as the potential for militaries to be 'forces for good.' The research considers whether militaries can contribute to feminist progress and work towards the cultural inclusion of diverse members within militaries due to personnel's exposure to gender and cultural perspectives within Professional Military Education. The project narrows its investigation to the mid-to-senior graduate level education of Canadian military officers within the Joint Command and Staff Programme at Canadian Forces College. It applies post-modern feminist, intersectional and militarized masculinities theories to understand the military learning environment and to analyze the inclusion and reception of critical theory by military learners. The research draws on contemporary pedagogic literature to make recommendations for optimizing learning environments and professional competencies to facilitate inclusive security and organizational culture change. Acknowledging the context of dominant masculinist and white centering constructions of military identity and socialization, this investigation asks: To what extent are gender and cultural perspectives integrated into mid-to-senior level Canadian Professional Military Education? If and in what ways military socialization and culture shape the learning environment and the reception of this education? Finally, if and in what ways such learning has facilitated feminist transformations in the military and beyond? The research draws from a critical discourse analysis of six semi-structured focus groups across military and civilian educators, curriculum developers, librarians, and students as well as 8 in-depth interviews with military students before graduation and 8 follow-up in-depth interviews with military graduates after at least three months in command and/or staff positions. The study's sociological approach illuminates lived experiences with teaching and learning across staff and students. Findings of the research ultimately highlight that while limited, exposure to gender and cultural perspectives, including critical feminist and anti-racist theories and frameworks has had positive professional effects. Graduate respondents report being better able to think critically about security, operations, institutional policy, and leadership, as well as institutional systems, structures, and culture. Some report being empowered by these concepts to facilitate inclusive security domestically and abroad and to advance organizational culture change.


Sociology - Organizational
Gender Studies
Ethnic and Racial Studies




Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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