College Philosophy


The vision of the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College is to be the NZDF's premier provider of Joint Professional Military Education.

SC 50 CM incl NZ Police, RNZAF and International Course Members [CSC-11-0581-49]


The purpose of the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College, under the auspices of the wider New Zealand Defence College, is to provide professional military education to middle ranking officers and senior Warrant Officers from the New Zealand Defence Force.  It does this in order to assist in the development of future strategic leaders, commanders and staff officers of the Defence Force.

Educational Philosophy

The NZDF Command and Staff College has an over-arching educational philosophy that guides all courses. Individual courses will have their own individual course philosophies that link to this one.


The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Command and Staff College is the nation’s premier military educational institution. In line with that role and within the context of the NZDF Professional Military Development Framework (PMD), it prepares today’s emerging leaders for the defence and security challenges of the future.

Learning Environment

The educational philosophy of the College is founded on a learning environment where course members are encouraged to be innovative, critically engaged, creative and analytical thinkers, and to develop unique solutions to contemporary challenges. The College encourages the development of leaders of character exhibiting trust and confidence in each other, as well as a high level of self-awareness, intellectual independence, analytical rigour and strategic acumen. The enhancement of an individual’s cognitive agility and the development and refinement of critical thinking skills, will provide graduates with an ability to operationalise the theory and concepts within an environment of complexity and ambiguity.

Professional Military Education

A presentation in the Lecture Theatre [CSC-11-0581-17]

The College provides contemporary, agile and relevant professional military education courses to the future commanders, staff officers, and leading Warrant Officers of the NZDF. Civilian personnel from other government agencies and selected international officers from across the globe add a critical dimension to these courses as they contribute valuable cultural, defence and security experience while benefiting from the New Zealand military environment. The courses provided by the College prepare selected individuals to undertake responsibilities in complex contemporary integrated, joint environments by promoting excellence in military operations and leadership. The College aims to grow strategic leaders, providing course members with the theoretical and practical tools necessary for success in command, and to contribute effectively as staff officers.


Key to course members’ learning, at all levels, is time for reflection. Reflection allows an individual to analyse and explore issues at a deeper level, and assists in developing the capacity to effectively and persuasively communicate an argument, whether orally or in writing. The concepts of teaching and learning that the College employs are based on the application and recognised good practice of contemporary adult education principles. Specifically there is recognition of, and support for the variety of learning styles of the individual and the group; consultative approaches to teaching and learning practice; emphasis on research and a concept of individual learning responsibility. It is acknowledged that taking responsibility for one’s own learning within a supportive environment aids in the development of an independent thinker. To that end the courses encourage self-responsibility for learning as a basis for the development of independent thought and effective practice.

Collegial Learning

SC 50 Course Members at the Welcome BBQ [CSC-11-0581-51]

Notwithstanding the emphasis on individual development, the College is residential and collegial by nature, and the approach is promoted throughout the ‘Command and Staff College experience’. The development of course members’ ability to work together as a ‘Learning Group’ is actively encouraged and supported as this collegial approach is seen as pivotal in promoting team spirit and morale in order to encourage shared learning and development. This approach underscores the core values of the NZDF and delivers on the vision of the NZDF of Joint Operational Excellence - we are integrated in the way we work, train and operate at home and abroad.

This page was last reviewed on 23 February 2016.