“As dean, I often cited a remark made by the dean of Harvard’s Medical School on the occasion of its hundredth birthday in 1884. That acting dean was none other than Oliver Wendell Holmes, father of the famous jurist who bore the same name with a “junior.” At the celebration, he commented: if the entire medical establishment (by which he meant the Harvard Medical School and its affiliated hospitals in Boston) were put onto a ship, taken out into Boston Harbor, and sunk, it would be better for the health of the citizens of the Commonwealth—and worse for the fishes.”
“What relevance could this have for schools of public policy? I believe that we should ask Holmes’s question: when, in the treatment of various maladies suffered by the body politic, did the prevailing treatment become therapeutic? Or, when might it do so?”
–Graham Allison, former dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, “Emergence of Schools of Public Policy: Reflections by a Founding Dean.”
This was a question Professor Allison considered as he led the founding of what is now Harvard’s public policy school, the Kennedy School of Government. A question he considered in the late 1970s, almost 100 years following Woodrow Wilson publishing on “The study of administration,” which is considered by some to mark the beginning of the study of public administration (and later public policy) as a discrete field.
On this blog over the past week there has been much discussion concerning the future of homeland security education. Yet there has been distressingly little discussion of why “homeland security” deserves to be taught as a discrete field of study. Or even consideration that the idea did not exist 15 years ago, the concept was considerably less ambitious pre-9/11, and today there is little agreement on the definition or even regarding details of the predominant (perhaps only) organizing theory of resilience.
Is it possible that by rushing into curriculum development, in particular undergraduate curriculum, it could be worse for everyone’s homeland security? How can homeland security education avoid bunking with Luca Brasi?