AF Academy’s 2022 National Character and Leadership Symposium focuses on human dignity, respect

  • Published
  • By Ray Bowden
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force Academy’s National Character and Leadership Symposium began Feb. 24 with Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark commenting on the event’s theme, “Ethics and Respect for Human Dignity.”

“Our theme is incredibly important and timely,” he said. “The Air Force Academy is an institution of higher learning, cutting-edge research and where we shape the future of the profession of arms.”

The annual symposium brings scholars, military and academic leaders, corporate executives and athletes together to discuss honorable living and leadership. 

”Ethics and respect for human dignity is vital to all we do here, to the health of our society no matter your perspective or where you join us from,” Clark said to the audience in Arnold Hall and those attending via livestream.

The speakers’ list includes actor and human rights activist George Takei, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. CQ Brown Jr., and Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, the Space Force’s senior enlisted leader.

Clark said U.S. society – and by extension, the U.S. military - is experiencing resurgent threats in the air, cyber and space domains in a new era of strategic competition. He’s confident cadets face ethical issues daily and will continue to face such dilemmas during their careers as commissioned officers.

“During NCLS, we’re going to talk about critical and at the same time uncomfortable topics: comprehending morality and moral decision making, using ethical judgment in our lives and careers, having respect and dignity for all we encounter.”

Clark praised the symposium’s diversity.

“We have an incredible lineup of speakers joining us,” he said. “We have senior leaders from our Air Force, thought leaders, civic leaders, authors, historians, Pulitzer Prize winners, actors, athletes, and leaders in business and academia.”

Clark encouraged the audience of cadets, service members and guests to attend an NCLS session they know will challenge their perspective and beliefs.

“Challenging the views we hold is critical to our lifelong education whether you’re a cadet, college student or have been around a few years like me,” he said with a laugh. “We’re going to talk about some tough topics over the next two days and I hope we’re uncomfortable at times.

“Amid the challenges we face, the future is bright and exciting, and we’re here at the Air Force Academy to better prepare for the complexities that future will bring.”