Sir Paul Newton

Student engagement

Name Sir Paul Newton


Director of Strategy and Security Institute

College Strategy and Security Institute

Multi-disciplinary approach

In 2014, Sir Paul Newton was involved with Grand Challenges; a week-long summer programme where University of Exeter undergraduates work together in interdisciplinary research groups, alongside top academics in order to consider and address some of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century.  

As Director of the Strategy and Security Institute (SSI), Paul led the ‘Global Strategy' Grand Challenge. Providing an important opportunity for multi-disciplinary learning and engagement, students on the Challenge were engaged as active learners to explore the complex security challenges of the future, in order to put forward a range of solutions to several of the most serious threats that we are confronted with today.

Techniques such as 'Red Teaming' and 'SWOT Analysis' were used to generate deeper understanding of these so-called 'wicked problems' after which students gave formal policy briefings on the strategic options they had constructed, and their relative merits.

Engaging students in active learning through simulations

Paul Newton is also the architect of the novel MA Applied Security Strategy programme. The emphasis is very much on active learning and going beyond an elegant description of a problem, to the production of practical approaches under conditions of realistic ambiguity and a degree of pressure. For example, students role-play participants in the Balkans crisis, during a 5 day field trip to Bosnia; and during a major 4 day simulation earlier in the course, they work in teams as strategists in a National Security Secretariat using such tools as stakeholder analysis and TV interviews to generate policy options and relay their "StratCom" messages to other state and non-state actors.

The simulation is run in SSI's purpose-designed base so that students can experience the near-reality of crisis management in an immersive environment. SSI's network of senior mentors (including former Ambassadors and current StratCom practitioners) add to the multi-disciplinary experience; a unique Exeter "ac-prac", or "academic-practitioner blended" approach. Students are not only taught the theory behind strategy, but can practice these techniques under increasing pressure, to help improve their confidence, team work, written and verbal communication and critical thinking.

Aim 1: Talented, Active, Engaged Students

To increase levels of student engagement with their academic studies

Active learning

"Our core programme is a selective one... so I'm used to dealing with... very talented, very challenging, very engaged students".

Grand Challenges

“[Grand Challenges] pulled together a fascinating blend of students and some of the most impressive insights.”

Student Feedback

Students give feedback about the MA Applied Security Strategy course and the simulation week (9th-13th March 2015)