The basis of true strength
is Character.

Character is "the sum of those qualities of moral excellence which compel a person to do the right thing despite pressure or temptations to the contrary." At the United States Air Force Academy, we'll teach you to evince character in everything you do.


Cadet Development

Character education is central to the curriculum at the United States Air Force Academy. Each year, cadets experience a different aspect of character-based transformational leadership education. We begin by developing personal understanding, then interpersonal skills followed by servant leadership and finally, we explore organizational improvement through the analysis of ethical dilemmas.

The Academy’s character education plan is built to fully complement the Officer Development System. Beginning in Basic Cadet Training (BCT) and continuing through your last semester at the Academy, The Cadet Development Directorate of the Center for Character and Leadership Development provides a variety of classroom, seminar, workshop and experiential learning programs — including an Adventure-based learning (ABL) ropes course — to all cadets. These programs encourage character and leadership development throughout the cadet experience and across Academy mission elements, providing hundreds of opportunities for involvement.

The multiple opportunities offered by the Cadet Development Directorate provide a deliberate, developmental approach to each cadets personal character and leadership growth. The end-goal of our character education programs is to inspire and excite cadets about their future roles as officers and leaders in the world’s best air force. Through our focus on character education, we ensure that the Academy not only makes a positive difference in cadet development, but contributes directly to the Air Force and Department of Defense goal of having officers of character leading our nation’s military. Programs include:

Core Values Education

The Academy and Air Force core values are Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do.  They are the foundation of a cadet’s ethical standards.  Instruction is provided to all Basic Cadets during their initial training, in order to instruct and inspire them to embrace these core values and hold their classmates to the same high standards of character and morality. These special standards of good conduct are inexorably tied to the military profession’s unique demand for self-discipline, stamina, courage, and selfless service to the nation.

Adventure-Based Learning

The Directorate also offers optional high- and low-ropes course adventure-based learning (ABL) exercises for cadets and other military organizations throughout the year. These sessions include, but are not limited to, “Alpine Tower”, “zip line” experiences, and various mental and physical challenges. While these experiential learning opportunities are not mandatory, many USAFA and other DoD teams and organizations experience remarkable personal growth by participating in these courses.

National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS)

NCLS is attended by 4,000 cadets and 300+ guests, students, and faculty from military academies and universities across the nation and around the world. This nationally-recognized forum ties together distinguished scholars, military leaders, and corporate executives with a popular student consortium to explore character and leadership issues. Past keynote lectures have been given by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of the Air Force, Medal of Honor recipients, Olympic athletes, sports role models, academic scholars and military personnel from all services. NCLS provides cadets and permanent party the opportunity to enhance their understanding of character-based leadership.
For more information on NCLS, please visit their website.


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