Jessica Wolfendale, associate professor of philosophy at West Virginia University, has been selected as a Stockdale Center Research Fellow for the 2014-15 academic year, and is spending the next nine months at the United States Naval Academy Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, working alongside academic peers and military personnel to continue her research on the causes of war crimes.

The Stockdale Center, located in Annapolis, Maryland, at the United States Naval Academy, is made up of academics and military personnel from across the country and examines the ethical aspects of military operations and strategies.

Research accomplished by the center’s fellowship recipients makes a significant impact on education at the Naval Academy and policy making within the federal government.

“I can talk to military professionals about what they see as important issues and what they see as relevant in terms of preventing violations of the laws of war, and hopefully they will gain something from talking to me as someone who is outside that world,” Wolfendale said.

Wolfendale is working with Matthew Talbert, chair of the Department of Philosophy at WVU, on a book about war crimes and responsibility, in which they examine alternative theories about the causes of war crimes and the responsibility of perpetrators of war crimes.

“The Nazis appealed to the principles of honor and integrity, but they twisted them so that it was ‘honorable’ to be able to kill innocent people,” Wolfendale said.

“Those principles themselves can become used in the service of promoting war crimes by making such acts appear to be permissible and even honorable.”

In addition to conducting independent and joint research, Wolfendale also will participate in weekly seminars, travel to meet with other experts in the field, and publish her findings in journals and books.

Wolfendale will give a presentation about her research at the McCain Conference in April to 80-100 military ethics and law academics from the United States service academies and colleges.

For more information, contact Jessica Wolfendale at



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