Conference News

David Last

Conference News


In an era of pandemic when many of us are working in isolation, keeping in contact with our colleagues, our communities of practice, and our learning networks is more important than ever. We hope that this blog will serve that purpose. There are currently more than 500 participants on the web site, many who have attended our conferences. This first blog will summarize some recent conference highlights and tell you what to look forward to. As we go forward, the Society has a mandate to do more than hold an annual conference, and we look forward to working with military science research centres, military libraries, and military journal editors.


The International Society of Military Sciences is a hub and platform for defence universities in small democratic countries to pursue improvements. It works in international English.


For more information contact:

Secretary: David Last, Royal Military College of Canada,


10th Anniversary Conference, Warsaw, 2018


Poland’s War Studies University hosted the first meeting of Commandants and Rectors of the member institutions, under the presidency of Ryszard Szpyra.  They pledged to contribute sufficient resources to realize the Society’s potential. Canada’s Royal Military College will fund the web site until 2029.  Commandants and Rectors charged the Council with specific objectives to allow the Society to serve its member institutions better. Portugal’s Military University Institute Joined the Council for the first time. 


11th Annual Conference, Vienna, 2019 “Military Science for the Benefit of Society”


The Austrian National Defence Academy hosted under the Presidency of Wolfgang Peischel, 18-20 November.  83 papers with participants and authors from 24 countries were accepted, most from military universities. Abstracts are posted on the conference pages of the website. Research roundtables were held in support of the Handbook of Military Sciences, the Military Profession Section of the Handbook, and the possibility of collaborative research on institutional leadership development. Conference proceedings are forthcoming.


Summary of participation in 2019: 83 participants from 24 countries

28 Poland

12 Portugal

6 China

6 Denmark

5 Canada





4 Finland

4 Singapore

3 Latvia

3 Sweden

2 Austria

2 Czechia

2 Greece 2

2 Hungary

2 Lithuania

2 US 

1 Estonia

1 India

1 Israel

1 Japan

1 Korea

1 Netherlands

1 Norway

1 Slovenia

1 Switzerland


Conference themes are to play a larger role in shaping future conferences, with the active engagement of Working Group chairs to help solicit and develop panels that will support both the research interests of participants and the institutional needs of defence universities. 


Military Science or Military Sciences? The conference opened with a plenary debate between Wolfgang Peischel and Anders Sookermany.  Peischel championed the position that the core of military science lay with subjects only taught in military universities, centred on military strategy against a hostile and lethal opponent. Sookermany took the position that military sciences encompassed all the subjects of interest to the military profession, addressed in both military and civilian universities, including history, technology, leadership, economics…indeed all the subjects addressed by ISMS working groups. The narrower and wider views of military science and sciences will coexist in ISMS.


Sponsored by ISMS, the Handbook of Military Sciences, edited by Anders Sookermany, is a Springer Reference work—a free open-source online resource—funded by the Norwegian Defence University College. It serves military professionals, especially mid-career researchers at staff colleges, and will consist of 12 sections, each with six to eight chapters of 5000 words, intended as a starting point on each subject. Chapters will be published online as they are developed.  Three chapters have been accepted, and the 2020 Conference may be used as an occasion to launch the electronic version. A paper edition will be published when it reaches about a thousand pages. Authors for each of the sections are being actively sought by most section editors ( ). 


Business meetings with military research centre directors, military librarians, and military journal editors were held for the first time this year. Cooperation is expected to continue in the form of information sharing, common projects, support for reviews and publicity, and collaboration on funding searches. EU research funds in particular are attractive, but hard to obtain without inter-institutional collaboration. Military universities are at a disadvantage, but plan to work together to improve the odds of external funding. Librarians already collaborate through several networks and have a joint project on information literacy through advanced interactive learning.  Journal editors expect to improve their indexing and review standards through collaboration. A workshop on peer review practices may be held at the next conference.


Cooperation on curriculum and curriculum development was acknowledged by Council. Discussions on core bodies of knowledge for pre-commission officers will be initiated online, and there is interest in shared development of technical staff knowledge for legacy and new fields, especially nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and cyber-security. 


12th Annual Conference, Helsinki, 2020 “Open Science and Military Science”


The 2020 conference will be 27-29 October, hosted by the Finnish National Defence University, under the presidency of Hannu Kari.  The theme will be “Open Science and Military Science” highlighting the challenges of research and collaboration on military subjects in a world where enemies exist but are not always clearly identified.  Working group chairs and council members will be invited to Helsinki to plan a focused approach to the problem. In light of the pandemic, we expect this preparatory meeting to be on a virtual platform.

Future Conferences

The 2021 Conference will be held at the Royal Military College of Canada, 11-14 October, in Kingston, under the Presidency of Harry Kowal. 


We expect the 2022 Conference to be hosted by the Military University Institute in Lisbon, Portugal.


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