Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 13, 2011

“Commentary from Homeland Security educators” about the Kiltz homeland security education article

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on August 13, 2011

This was posted originally by Steve Recca on August 12th

In response to Linda Kiltz’ article, and Chris Bellavita and Mark Chubb’s initial commentary, I am providing the following running commentary from Homeland Security educators. These contributors are part of a larger planning committee associated with the development of The Journal of Homeland Security Education. The JHSE – http://www.JournalHSE.com – will publish its first issue in late January 2012.

On behalf of the contributors, thank you for the opportunity to add to the conversation … around Linda’s timely article.

James Ramsay Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
In his response to Linda Kiltz’ article, Mark Chubb wrote: “Creating a new discipline that carves out a niche for homeland security practitioners does little to enhance the application of expertise within disciplines to solving their own problems, and could even undermine the efforts of other disciplines — like law — to secure appropriate remedies when failures in others — like engineering or medicine — produce spillover effects.”
Really? It would be helpful to see an example of how academic HS may undermine existing efforts (whatever those are) by existing disciplines to secure appropriate remedies (which were not identified). It has not been the feedback from either my students or employers or internships (which include the FBI, TSA, the Secret Service, DHS, Lawrence Livermore Labs, several in local law enforcement, the EM community, the US Dept of State, and so on) I are receiving. The feedback from the market (at least to me and my program’s students) has been overwhelmingly positive and constructive.

It seems to me the entire concept of “synergy” has been lost in this argument. HS, at the undergraduate level, leans on and utilizes science and practice from a variety of extant disciplines, and synergizes wonderfully with graduate degrees in a variety of areas (risk management, EM, intelligence studies, law and policy, strategic studies, security management, etc), and thereby is an appropriate part of one’s professional education. Indeed, it seems to be a robust generalist degree for those looking for careers in law enforcement, security management, EM, or for subsequent graduate education.
Linda’s (Kiltz’) article clearly adds to the debate about the ever-growing and emergent discipline we are calling “academic homeland security”. Rather than trying to argue for its non existence, perhaps we may try to clearly articulate what it needs to do to be even more helpful to the enterprise.

Andy Cain DMgt – Homeland Security Board of Advisors Colorado Technical University
The disciplines of Public Health and Medical Services; Law; Fire Science; Emergency Management; Transportation; Communications; Agriculture; Energy; and, the 7 other Emergency Support Functions (ESF’s) are Cultural “Cylinders of Excellence”. And, within each you will find more tightly bound cylinders with the habits of self-licking ice cream cones.
Homeland Security does not “carve out” from those disciplines, Homeland Security does have the potential to bind those Cylinders-of-Excellence together symbiotically to address all-hazards and mitigate disasters. And, Homeland Security Education can be the “glue that binds” those cylinders for greater strength. I call that collaborative resilience.

Stan Supinski Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security
I am currently having one of the best discussions I’ve ever had in one of my classes that’s closely related. One of my students is arguing that the definition of homeland security is essentially multidisciplinary communication – or, as Andy states below, binding of the cylinders of excellence. The discussion came about because of the big child porn case from last week – which had Janet Napolitano standing next to the AG. Is child porn really an HS issue? I think not, but DHS played a role, even though there was no nexus to terrorism (ICE was involved).

It is pretty hard to come up with any public safety issue that doesn’t somehow connect to HS. And, 10 years later, we are no closer to defining it.

Mike Collier Eastern Kentucky University
One question that academia is still wrestling with is “What encompasses a multidisciplinary degree program?” When I was a student in the DIA multidisciplinary MS in Strategic Intelligence program back in the mid-1980s, there was an ongoing discussion about whether Intelligence was a real academic discipline. Proponents argued yes, because it had its own literature, its own professional and/or academic journals, and it had a professional community demanding instruction. I then encountered the same debate as to whether International Relations, also very multidisciplinary, was a real academic discipline when I started my PhD program in the mid-1990s–and this was 50 years after WWII, which most people peg as the start of the IR discipline. When it comes to multidisciplinary emerging disciplines, there will always be the naysayers who are conditioned by their single disciplinary blinders. The traditional single disciplines surely have not cornered the market on creating knowledge and solving society’s problems. The way we approach multidisciplinary Homeland Security at EKU, as was supported by the results of the 2009 CHDS conference on creating a model HS undergraduate curriculum, is that the discipline encompasses all that DHS, other government agencies, and the private sector do to protect the US–whether it is enforcing US laws at the border, protecting the CIP & KR, or responding to “all hazard” disasters. Because HS crosses government and private sector boundaries, I tell our students to think of it as a management degree specializing in security management and disaster preparedness. Eventually our HS instruction should create a core of productive HS professionals who speak the same language, and not a bunch of single discipline specialists who tend to “talk past” each other and get little done.

James Ramsay Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Good thoughts Mike. I’ll toss in a couple more intellectual tidbits: Consider the natural evolution that occurs: jobs=>occupations=>professions. Medicine and law went through this life cycle, as did nursing, engineering, and other professional fields. Today each is considered a bona fide, sovereign profession, not merely an occupation.

To broaden our perspective on whether or not “HS is a real discipline”, we can look at the status of many similar fields (aka occupations) today: security management, intelligence studies, industrial hygiene, occupational safety & health, environmental health, EM, CJ, law enforcement, IR, etc. Each can be considered a bona fide occupation with journals, professional associations, conferences, credentials, and some with accreditation standards. None have title protection or licensure. And each suffers from the challenge of an ill-defined professional boundary. When a field/occupation cannot clearly define who they are and who they are not, it is difficult to mature to a profession. A clearly defined professional boundary and some barriers to entry to that field have tended to be vital to the movement from occupation to profession. Professional boundaries, in turn, are often drawn via accreditation at the program level. Hence without a viable program level accreditation structure operating, it will be more difficult for HS to begin to define itself professionally. (I should note that accreditation is not a panacea and that data are unclear as to whether accreditation actually makes for “better practitioners”; however, accreditation does tend to tightly connect academic programs to best practices and is based in continuous quality improvement precepts).
In addition to an inarticulate professional boundary, I’d note that Dr Bellevita correctly points out that HS needs to define an underlying theoretical framework which describes its practice patterns and helps identify policy, strategy and tactics that work. Further, once developed, the HS field needs to confirm/disconfirm this theory with basic and applied research that’s subjected to peer review. However, while this is not an insurmountable deficiency, it is one that needs to be systematically addressed in the near term by HS and related educators/practitioners.

I once described academic HS as a “meta discipline” to the NY Times when I was asked what it HS “is”. I said this since HS professionals encompassed the need to be true boundary spanners, and to work/communicate with a plethora of other professionals in order to achieve a common objective. As such, its curriculum needs to reflect and bestow those skills to its students. There are disciplines that operate on a small scale (sub specialists in medicine or law; gastroenterology or nanotechnologists) and there are disciplines that operate on a larger scale, which is what HS may end up being more like. Again, at the undergraduate level, academic HS seems to make some sense at this time…. I think the jury is still out as to whether a PhD in HS makes sense…. Of course, those that pursue such a thing may end being the ones who generate and test the theory that needs to undergird the field.

Further, nobody really practices the entirety of the law, instead, they practice in something specific or a couple of things specific, but they all go to law school and they all pass a bar exam before they practice. The same can be said of medicine. Both medicine and law use and lean on the science and practice of a wide variety of extant disciplines in their own curriculum. Take medicine for example, med schools use biology, chemistry, physics, math, biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, risk management, business management, and public/environmental health, among others in their curricula. In many ways, I see the educational structure of HS to be following a similar path. To condemn academic HS for using a similar model to medicine and law is not logical.

At the undergraduate level, HS is a broad field, applied social science that leans on and uses the science from a wide variety of extant disciplines and which provides a functional and appropriate platform for entry level positions or for one to pursue subsequent credentialing (CPP, CEM) or graduate work in related by extant disciplines.

It is fascinating for me to sit on the ASIS Academic Council, and the IAFIE and ASSE Education Standards Committees, and to have worked on HS accreditation standards and the occasional EM debate and see that the professional issues in this respect are identical across each of these occupations. While it’s certainly legitimate for bona fide occupations to mature into sovereign professions, it is important to note that there is a life cycle that tends to describe this growth. Indeed what we may be witnessing with the examples provided, are complex and dynamic occupations that are more than occupations, but not quite yet professions and are in fact stuck in similar places in their life cycles.

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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Four for Saturday

August 13, 2011 @ 1:24 am

[...] Steve posted some comments from several instructors developing a new journal, called The Journal of… [...]

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 13, 2011 @ 8:39 am

Curiosoty (sic)? Who will be funding and editing the new Journal of Homeland Security Education?

And since there seems to be a consensus on having HS a graduate level of study where should it be housed in any college or university? Profit making institution location? Non-profit making institution. Public Administration? Political Science? Government?
Engineering? etc. etc.

Noting that Embry Riddle stock is traded and down recently (as many other stocks) attributed to slowing of student intake.

Comment by Linda Kiltz

August 16, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

Thank you for the great discussion on the challenges we face in homeland security education. Should homeland security be considered an academic discipline or is it even wise to create such a discipline at this time? How do we begin defining homeland security and how will this definition guide our teaching and research? Do we want homeland security to be a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary endeavor given the challenges of each in our traditional academic institutions?

I have argued that HS is not currently an academic discipline by traditional definitions and standards and that it should be embedded in a traditional discipline at this time. This is what we are seeing in most programs across the country. Given the complex problems in homeland security, it is logical to move toward a teaching and learning approach that is interdisciplinary. What disciplines are brought to the table may vary but we should be open to a variety from law, to national security, to public health and public administration, and others. To obtain a truly holistic perspective on the problems we face we need to be open our minds to the space of other disciplines and possibilities. By learning from other disciplinary perspectives, we are not watering down homeland security or emergency management but rather opening spaces for innovation, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving that would not be created if we approach problems from a singular disciplinary perspective. Academic disciplines do not provide superficial knowledge on anything but are in fact designed to provide expert knowledge and problem solving skills that are quite narrow in focus (an inch wide and a mile deep). When we combine these narrow disciplinary perspectives in a synergistic way involving many scholars, I believe the very best teaching, scholarship and learning can occur homeland security.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

August 16, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

Professor Kiltz,

Out of curiosity, how would you define the discipline of “national security?” And where is it taught?

I can easily identify law, public health, and public administration programs. Where and what exactly is taught in national security studies (as distinct from security studies or international security)?


Comment by William R. Cumming

August 17, 2011 @ 5:08 am

Arnold! To ask the question is to answer it. National Security often in the eye of the beholder. There is never any definition given in the many statutes passed by Congress and signed into law including the infamous National Security Act of 1947 or its many amendments. Oddly National Defense often is defined.
If the National Security State survives the forthcoming budget cuts then I would simply define “National Security” as the end state justification for all those that wish to be protected from the currents of history.

Better to try and hold back the tides.

Comment by Linda Kiltz

August 18, 2011 @ 7:58 am

Arnold, I believe national security as a discipline is often part of international relations and security studies. Some universities offer a graduate degree in national security studies which is quite similar to security studies. In national security studies often the focus is on national security strategies, policies and organizations.

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