Despite its vast potential to shape the global security environment, climate change remains underrepresented in national security curricula, including professional military education institutions. This article draws on the authors’ experience leading the first climate security course offered at the National War College to illustrate a viable approach to building climate literacy among national security practitioners and related audiences. This article describes the course structure, explains the key topics discussed, and highlights essential pedagogical considerations for teaching climate security to rising strategic leaders and professional audiences. The authors intend for their experience to provide a roadmap for other instructors who seek to incorporate global climate change into their national security or political science courses at all academic levels.


Greg Pollock

Greg Pollock served as the Secretary of Defense Chair on the faculty of the National War College from 2019-2021. He served in various leadership positions within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, most recently as the acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Cooperation. Greg has also worked at the Department of the Treasury, the Department of State, and as a Brookings Legislative Fellow for Senator Harry Reid. He received a B.A. from Wake Forest University and a M.S.F.S. from Georgetown University.

John C. Ellis

John C. Ellis is a graduate student reading for a MPhil in Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University. He was a research intern working on climate security topics at the U.S. National War College and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. John holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests include diplomatic history and the intersection of climate change, national security, and grand strategy.

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No. 5 Integrating Climate Change Into Professional Military Education