From August 1998 until February 2006, he was the founding director of the Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics (now called the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership) at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Dr. Pierce built the center from scratch, leaving in place an organization with a high-quality professional and support staff, Resident Fellows, and a rich menu of programs that support the Naval Academy, the Navy, and the Marine Corps. The Center also engages in national outreach and partnerships with the other service academies, civilian colleges and universities, and research institutes and think-tanks. He also put into place a solid base of funding for the Center, including both appropriated funds and gift funds raised through the Naval Academy Foundation.
From February 1985 until August 1998, he had been Professor of Military Strategy at the National War College, where he taught courses in military strategy, the use of military force, civil-military relations, ethics, French security policy, and national security policymaking.
Prior to joining the War College faculty, Dr. Pierce was a defense correspondent for NBC News. Before that, he was Deputy Director of the Strategic Concepts Development Center (SCDC), an in-house think tank established by Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger. (SCDC was the predecessor of NDU’s Institute for National Strategic Studies.) He also served as Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, writing speeches, Congressional testimony, and the Fiscal Year 1982 Annual Report for Secretary Harold Brown. Before moving to the Defense Department, he was with the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
At various times, he has been a consultant to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Cambridge Survey Research, Inc., the Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University, the John F. Kennedy Library Corporation, and SRI International.
From 1985 to 1990, he was a Visiting Professorial Lecturer at the George Washington University, teaching graduate-level courses in National Security Policy, National Security Policy-Making, and Defense Policy and Program Analysis: Nuclear Issues. From 1987 to 1992, he was a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia, where he taught The Role of Military Force in International Relations. In 1996, he was an adjunct professor at UCLA’s Washington program, teaching a course in national security policy and the use of military force. For several years, he taught a graduate-level course in professional ethics as part of the master’s degree program in Leadership Education and Development conducted by the Naval Postgraduate School for junior officers assigned to the Naval Academy. In March 2008, he taught a one-week course in professional ethics as part of a graduate degree program at the Public Policy Institute of Georgetown University.
He is a member of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics and the International Studies Association. In 1985, he participated in the MIT/Harvard Summer Program on Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control. During 1987-1988, he was a Fellow in MIT’s Seminar XXI program. In 1991, he was selected for a Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs, and in 1994, he was chosen to participate in a Carnegie Council faculty summer institute on Teaching Ethics and International Affairs, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Also in 1994, he became one of the first two Americans to become an auditeur of the French Institut des Hautes Études de Défense Nationale.
In April 2001 and again in October 2007, Dr. Pierce delivered the keynote address at the Annual James Bond Stockdale Leadership and Ethics Symposium at the University of San Diego. In March 2002, he gave the Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Memorial Lectures in National Security Affairs at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 2004, he was co-director of a month-long faculty development institute, “War and Morality: Re-thinking the Just War Tradition in the 21st Century,” which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1964.
He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Military Ethics and of the Editorial Board of Media, War, and Conflict.
He lectures frequently to a wide range of military, government, academic, civic, business, legal, and other professional audiences, including senior leadership in all those domains, on topics in ethics and leadership.
Dr. Pierce is a graduate of St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. and a cum laude graduate of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he majored in politics. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in political science from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He is an Honorary Member of the Naval Academy Class of 1964.
Among his publications are The Armed Forces Officer (co-author with several others, published by The National Defense University Press and Potomac Books, Inc. in 2007); Ethics and the Future of Conflict, co-edited with Anthony F. Lang, Jr. and Joel H. Rosenthal (Prentice Hall Studies in International Relations, 2004); Strategy, Ethics, and the “War on Terrorism” (Berkeley Public Policy Press, 2003); A Model for Moral Leadership: Contemporary Applications, Occasional Paper No. 15 (The Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, Southern Methodist University, 2003); “Conflict, Strategy, and Ethics,” in J.I. Coffey and Charles T. Mathewes, editors, Religion, Law and the Role of Force: A Study of Their Influence on Conflict and on Conflict Resolution (Transnational Publishers, 2002); Ethics for the Junior Officer (co-editor with various others of several editions published by the Naval Institute Press 1998-2006); “Commentary on ‘Captain Lawrence Rockwood in Haiti,’” Journal of Military Ethics, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2002, pp. 53-54; “Just War Principles and Economic Sanctions,” Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 10, 1996.