Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 8, 2013

Some recent homeland security theses

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on January 8, 2013

On December 14th, the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security graduated its 41st and 42nd master’s degree class.

The titles of their theses, below, suggest the ideas explored by the graduates.

Most of the theses — adding to the storehouse of what we know, do not know, and might know about homeland security — will be available through the NPS Dudley Knox library in 4 to 6 weeks.

(If you know of any other recent master’s or doctoral theses related to homeland security policy and strategy, please let us know – – along with enough information to find the documents.)


• Analysis of Terrorist Funding and Strategic Capability.

• Assessing Fire Service Use of Automatic Aid as a Response Model.

• Aviation Security: Biometric Technology and Risk-based Security Aviation Passenger Screening.

• Border Law Enforcement – From a Dystopian Lens.

• Collaborative Radiological Response Planning.

• Combating Terrorism Within Local Policing Through Crime Reduction: Using Real Time Situational Awareness with a Distributed Common Operating Picture to Combat All Crime and Terrorism.

• Common Ground: Partnerships for Public Health and Medical System Resilience.

• Creating Defensible Cyberspace: The Value of Applying Place-Based Crime Prevention Strategy to Social Media.

• Domestic Intelligence: When Is It Acceptable?

• Enhancing Decision Making During Initial Operations at Surge Events.

• Enhancing Situational Awareness When Addressing Critical Incidents at Schools.

• Enhancing U.S. Coast Guard Field Intelligence Collection and Process Efforts with a Systems Thinking Leadership Strategy.

• How Do We Hedge the Homeland Security Risk? Let’s Talk Return on Investment.

• Improving TSA’s Public Image: Customer Focused Initiatives to Improve Public Trust and Confidence.

• Improvised Explosives and Related Chemical Precursors: Strategies to Identify the Threat and Protect Our First Responders.

La Guerra: The Contest to Define Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations in the Homeland Security Problem Space.

• New Technologies and Emerging Threats: Personal Security Adjudicative Guidelines in the Age of Social Networking.

• Preparing Minority Populations for Emergencies: Connecting to Build a More Resilient Community.

• Purposefully Manufactured Vulnerabilities in U.S. Government Technology Microchips: Risks and Homeland Security Implications.

• Putting the Critical Back in Critical Infrastructure.

• Rethinking Disasters: Finding Efficiencies Through Collaboration.

• Revisiting the Swine Flu Affair: Recognizing a Non-linear Homeland Security Environment for Improved Decision Making.

• Southwest Hispanic Community – The Absence of Homeland Security Threats.

• Suicide Terrorism in America? The Complex Social Conditions of this Phenomenon and the Implications for Homeland Security.

• The Emerging Domestic Threat: What the Law Enforcement Community Must Know and Prepare for In Regard to the Sovereign Citizen Movement.

• The FBI Counter Terrorism Division Global Initiative: Enhancing the Legal Attaché Program.

• The Homeland Security Ecosystem: An Analysis of Hierarchical and Ecosystem Models and Their Influence on Decision Makers.

• The North American Proliferation of Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations: Homeland Security Implications of the Hybrid Threat.

• Voice of America 2.0: A Study of the Integrated Strategic Counterterrorism Communications Strategy and its Application to the United States Counterterrorism Strategic Plan.

November 20, 2012

Wanted: Dangerous Homeland Security ideas. $500 reward.

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on November 20, 2012

Do you have a dangerous idea about homeland security?

Why is it dangerous?

You could receive $500 if you write a compelling response to those questions.

The Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security is running its sixth annual essay contest through January 20th, 2013. You can see the contest rules and the essay evaluation criteria at http://www.chds.us/?essay/overview.

The contest is open to anyone interested in homeland security — anyone except for Center for Homeland Defense and Security faculty, staff, students and graduates.

The winning essay will be announced around May 31, 2013.

Here are the essay questions from previous years:

2008 — “What single aspect of Homeland Security has been most successful, and what single aspect will be most critical to Homeland Security success?”

2009 — “What advice concerning Homeland Security would you give the next presidential administration and why?”

2010 — “How can, or should, the United States make homeland security a more layered, networked, and resilient endeavor involving all citizens?”

2011 — “Claude Debussy said “Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.” How might this idea be applied to how we approach homeland defense and security?”

2012 — “Identify a theory or insight from a field outside homeland security that has not been applied to homeland security but should be.”

You can see the finalists’ essays for those questions at this link.

September 25, 2012

Growing more homeland security ideas

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on September 25, 2012

On September 21st, the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security graduated its 39th and 40th master’s degree class.

To suggest the ideas explored by those graduates, here are the titles of their theses.

Most of the theses — adding to the storehouse of what we know, do not know, and might know about homeland security — will be available through the NPS Dudley Knox library in a few weeks.

(If you know of any other recent master’s or doctoral theses related to homeland security policy and strategy, please let us know – – along with enough information to find the documents.)


  • Leveraging National Guard Intelligence: Analysts in State and Regional Fusion Centers
  • The Future Mission, Tasking and Resourcing of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
  • The FBI is Leading the Way by Making the Private Sector Part of the Counterterrorism Homeland Security Enterprise
  • Policy Options to Address Crucial Communication Gaps in the Incident Command System
  • Utilizing Social Media to Further the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative
  • Federated Search Tools in Fusion Centers: Bridging Databases in the Information Sharing Environment
  • Creating a Learning Organization for State and Local Law Enforcement to Combat Violent Extremism
  • Start Making Sense: Exploring an Emergency Learning Framework
  • Evolving the Local Fire Service intelligence Enterprise in New York State: Implementing a Threat Liaison Officer Program
  • Shaping the National Guard in a Post War Environment
  • Effective Municipal Emergency Planning for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs
  • FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Teams: Considering an Improved Strategy for an Evolving Homeland Security Enterprise
  • Internet Radicalization: Actual Threat or Phantom Menace?
  • Incomplete Intelligence: Is the Information Sharing Environment an Effective Platform?
  • Ready for the Future: Assessing the Collaborative Capacity of State Emergency Management Agencies
  • Unity of Command for the Federal Operational Response to a Catastrophic Disaster
  • Social Media, Social Networking, Facial Recognition Technology and the Future of Law Enforcement Undercover Operations
  • Emergent Social Software Platforms for Sharing and Collaboration on Criminal Information and Intelligence
  • The Provision of Public Health Services for Illegal Migrant Populations: Policy Options for Improving Homeland Security
  • Applying Deterrence Strategy to Agents of Asymmetrical Threats
  • What is the Best Approach to Crisis Intervention?
  • Hunting a Black Swan: Policy Options for America’s Police in Preventing Radiological/Nuclear Terrorism
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Where Do We Go from Here to Bring the Fire Service into the Domestic Intelligence Community?
  • Violent Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations in Texas: Political Discourse and an Argument for Reality
  • Understanding “Swift Trust” to Improve Interagency Collaboration in New York City
  • Theory to Practice: How Developing a K-12 Curriculum in Emergency Preparedness, Life Safety, or Homeland Security can lead to Resiliency
  • Community Engagement for Collective Resilience: The Rising System
  • Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems into Modern Policing in an Urban Environment
  • Network Vulnerability Assessment of the U.S. Crude Pipeline Infrastructure

September 4, 2012

Badges? In a homeland security education future, your kids might actually want some stinkin’ badges.

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on September 4, 2012

This week’s post is an excuse to share a video a friend showed me a few days ago. (Thanks RNG.) But since this is a homeland security blog, I want to first make the connection between the video and homeland security.

Last week I had the chance to talk with homeland security educators from around North America. I came away from the conversation thinking about three issues: jobs, curriculum, and the costs of education.

Jobs was the big issue. Depending on what counts as homeland security higher education, there are between 200 and 400 programs across the nation. Where are the graduates of these programs going to find jobs? That was the number one question being asked.

There were very not many answers. A few programs (one of which I will mention later) did not have a significant problem finding jobs for its graduates. But those programs were the exceptions.


The second issue was what to teach in a homeland security program. This issue is as old as homeland security. So that means not very old if you are in the “homeland security started after 9/11/01” camp. Or really old if you’re part of the “we’ve always done homeland security” tribe.

The curriculum answer is often arrived at through vigorous assertion, sometimes supported by focus groups (as if focus groups are representative of anything other than the interests in the room); sometimes by more systematic analysis: for instance here and here.

According to the people in the room, employers know what skills they want from the people they hire: critical thinking, the ability to collaborate, the ability to communicate effectively. Knowledge about specific homeland security skills — whatever they might be — was not emphasized, at least not in the conversations I heard.

I don’t know how much critical thinking employers actually want in the public sector, or the private sector for that a matter. But I don’t know the data either way on this topic.

I am reminded, however, how organizations can conduct a nationwide search to try to get the very best person available. Once that person his hired, he or she has to then fit in with the rest of the people. Maybe not all the time. But enough.

“It’s path dependency,” a smart friend explained to me today.

In my opinion, there is no consensus on what should be included in homeland security curriculum. I think we are still in 100 flower territory.

Before too long the 100 flowers may fragment into 1000 flowers. And that could be a good thing for homeland security education and for homeland security. That leads to a third issue: money.


The third issue that came up was the cost of education. The “total outstanding student loan debt in the United States now stands at above $1 trillion dollars.”

I find it interesting the student loan figure runs parallel to Mueller and Stewart’s finding that “the increase in expenditures on domestic homeland security over the decade exceeds $1 trillion.”

No doubt just a coincidence.

But I don’t know anyone who knows what a trillion dollar really means. So I suppose the best one can say is a lot of money was spent on homeland security during it’s first decade. And students owe a lot of money for going to college.

What the nation received for the trillion dollars in homeland security spending remains an open question. Apparently it’s even harder to figure out what college students got for the trillion dollars they borrowed.


One person I heard speak is working at a new edge of homeland security education. It’s an edge where badges (sometimes called certificates) are more valued than degrees.

His program (the name is not important for the point I’m making) is not concerned about granting degrees. Instead, his organization trains/educates (discussing the distinction would add several hundred more words to the post) people to be intelligence analysts. The students in that program graduate with demonstrated competence in a skill certain employers want. They don’t end up with a degree. But they do get hired.

Badges/certificates are not especially new. Computer professionals and emergency managers, among others, have been collecting badges for decades. But the looming rupture of the student loan bubble portends an opportunity for the “Badges not Degrees” movement.

If the badges trend grows, what might the future of homeland security education look like?


That’s a very long way to get to what I actually wanted to write about.

Here’s a link to a ten minute video introducing a quasi-science fiction concept called EPIC 2020. (There’s a longer video on the page, but the first one gets the main idea across.)

If you’re interested in where education, curriculum and assessment might be going, the ten minute video is worth your time.

Maybe some of the concepts are fanciful (e.g., Apple buys Amazon, and Google buys the Khan Academy). Other ideas, like the student loan bubble, are a disturbing reality. Still other parts of the trend are happing now (a Stanford professor taught one course to 160,000 students from all over the world; that’s more students than most faculty teach in a lifetime).

The badges approach is not without downsides. But the current approaches to homeland security education — to higher education in general — also has its problems.

(Caution: very long sentence with unconventional spacing coming up. )

What could it mean for homeland security education
if we moved toward a future where a degree in homeland security
(or in any of the dozens of disciplines and professions related to it)
did not matter as much as a badge that certifies a potential employee demonstrated competence
in one of the higher level skills homeland security employers want:
collaboration, being comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, measurement, mash ups, social networking, resilience…
who knows what else?

I don’t know how many people are entering homeland security higher education programs this fall.

But I’m guessing the jobs the best of those students will be competing for when they graduate haven’t been invented yet.

That is an interesting curriculum design problem.

April 24, 2012

Cybersecurity Awareness and Capacity Building: Some learning objectives

Filed under: Cybersecurity,Education — by Christopher Bellavita on April 24, 2012

Sunday and Monday’s Homeland Security Watch posts reminded me how little I know about cyber fill-in-the-blank issues.  I know more than I did a year ago. But every time I hear or read something from someone who actually understand cyber issues, what I believe I know becomes a much smaller fraction of what I think I could know.

This week’s posts also reminded my of a “cyber awareness” course syllabus a friend sent to me last June when I was trying to make sense of the cyber domain.  The best I can figure out, the 20 page syllabus came from someone named “Paul Herman” at Florida State University.  I have not been able to verify that.

I bring this up for two reasons.

First, this is cyber week on homeland security watch, and I agreed to write something about cyber, severely underestimating how much time it would take to write something coherent about Susan Brenner’s 2009 reminder that “Article I § 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the “Power To . . . grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal,” and how we might want to consider using that Constitutional authority to encourage “cyber-privateers to deal with cybercriminals.” (See also this related entry on the Morgan Doctrine blog; [and thanks for the idea, KS].)

Second, when I first saw “Paul Herman’s course syllabus” I remember being impressed with how much territory it covered, and how it actually included “learning objectives.”

The syllabus helped me map my own preliminary cyber learning agenda.  I pass a very small portion of it (topics and learning objectives) along today, with the hope it might help someone develop his or her own agenda for learning about (or maybe teaching) this still emerging homeland security issue.

Thank you, “Paul Herman,” whoever you are.


Module 1: The Importance of Cyberspace

Much like globalization writ large, those states and societies that catch the cyberspace bus will tend to move forward, while those that miss it will tend to be left behind.

Learning Objectives:
When you complete this module you should be able to:
• Define Cyberspace and Cybersecurity
• Recognize the centrality of cyberspace to contemporary life
• Recognize the inherent vulnerabilities of utilizing cyberspace
• Differentiate the key sub-dimensions within the overall cybersecurity subject area

Module 2: Invasion of Personal Privacy

Increasingly, individuals’ confidential records and affiliations are stored or expressed on the Internet.

Learning Objectives:
• List the types of personal data that are increasingly connected to the Internet
• Comprehend the visibility of many personal behaviors on the Internet
• Conclude that this type of personal exposure entails risks to individuals

Module 3: Sexual Exploitation / Predation

The Internet lends itself to taking advantage of the physically and emotionally most vulnerable members of society.

Learning Objectives:
• Evaluate the impact on children of their forcible sexual depiction
• Evaluate the impact on women’s status in society
• Analyze the potential for predatory actors on the Internet to misrepresent themselves and lure other gullible participants into dangerous rendezvouses and relationships

Module 4: Disgruntled Insiders

Severe damage is arguably more likely to be done to your organization by persons who legitimately belong there than by external hackers.

Learning Objectives:
• Determine if unhappy employees in an organization are prone to stealing or destroying information assets as a type of revenge or justice seeking
• Determine if unhappy employees in a factory or supply chain are susceptible to being recruited to alter or degrade information and communication technology (ICT) products
• Assess the implications of the … WikiLeaks case

Module 5: Personal Financial Theft

The heist of digitized currency is probably the most prevalent cybercrime in the world.

Learning Objectives:
• Recognize the ease and frequency with which credit card numbers are stolen
• Recognize the susceptibility of financial data, including bank accounts, to being stolen
• Discover that stolen financial account data is sometimes sold to other criminals, or used to blackmail / extort victimized institutions.

Module 6: Corporate Espionage

Building competitive, innovative economies – aided by theft if need be – is probably more conducive to national security than is amassing armaments.

Learning Objectives:
• Estimate the magnitude of the value of stolen Intellectual Property (IP)
• Identify the different types of actors involved in stealing IP
• Explore the potential for commercial competitors to try to ruin one another’s reputation
• Assess the implications of a recent high-vis corporate penetration

Module 7: Violent Extremist Collaboration

Violent extremists bolster one another in cyberspace and exchange tricks of the trade.

Learning Objectives:
• Recognize how extremist groups and individuals can use cyberspace to incite violent impulses
• Recognize the availability of weapon and explosive device designs on the Internet
• Recognize group tactic sharing and operational attack planning on the Internet

Module 8: Critical Infrastructure Disruption

For ease of operation, many of the services citizens count on – utilities/energy, transportation, and financial markets – are increasingly accessible from the Internet.

Learning Objectives:
• List critical infrastructures
• Explain control systems, and illustrate their importance via the recent Stuxnet case
• Interrelate critical infrastructures and how failure in one might cascade

Module 9: National Security Espionage

In the U.S. case, Pentagon and State Department computer systems are probed thousands of times daily.

Learning Objectives:
• Recognize that the Internet provides nation-states and their intelligence agencies with vastly expanded capabilities to furtively acquire information.
• State some of the military and diplomatic advantages that would come from effective espionage.

Module 10: Information Operations / Cyber War

Cyber war is a force multiplier that developing nations will increasingly want to take account of.

Learning Objectives:
• Recognize that information operations can interfere with critical infrastructure, which is the logistical mechanism for mobilizing in a crisis
• Recognize that degraded targeting data make smart bombs dumb
• Observe that small nation-states are often the target of information operations during a confrontation (as illustrated by Estonia and Georgia opposite Russia in 2007 and 2008, respectively)

Module 11: Summary Patterns

This is a bigger problem than most people realize. Critical infrastructure is increasingly regulated in cyberspace, and such infrastructure is essential for an effective response to any emergency – natural or manmade.

Learning Objectives:
• Deduce or recall examples of how the aforementioned subdivisions of cyber security are nested or interrelated.
• Explain how cyber insecurity can have systemic – economic and/or political – effects
• Recognize that even developing states are not insulated from high-tech cyber concerns

Module 12: Technical Digression

…[It] must be realized that at bottom line, cyber security is heavily a function of computer science / network administration.

Learning Objectives:
• Describe how the leading types of malicious software (malware) work
• Describe the leading techniques exploiters use to trick Internet users.
• Identify several information technology (IT) best practices that aim to blunt computer exploitation

Module 13: A Policy Framework for Cyber Security

While governments alone cannot ensure cybersecurity, they can put in place a policy framework that facilitates it.

Learning Objectives:
• Articulate a case for states to formulate a national cyber strategy
• Explain the connection between legislated authorities and regulatory activities
• List key national cybersecurity institutions
• Identify sources of international / multilateral support

Module 14: A Culture of Cybersecurity

Societal features external to government IT programs contribute to a broad milieu of cyber safety.

Learning Objectives:
• Assess the adequacy of national science and technology (S&T) education
• Examine the adequacy of national business culture for fully incorporating cyber vulnerability into risk management formula
• Comprehend the need for civil society bodies to credential properly trained information security professionals

February 6, 2012

Disaster Tourism

Filed under: Catastrophes,Education,Preparedness and Response,State and Local HLS — by Arnold Bogis on February 6, 2012

The Boston Globe recently ran a very interesting, if short, editorial on the benefits of disaster tourism:

The residents of Joplin, Missouri suffered unspeakable tragedy when the May, 2011, tornado left the small city in ruins and 161 people dead. Today, Joplin is in the midst of a new crisis as city leaders, under fire, backed down from proposals to market the devastation and recovery as “tornado tourism.’’ While every effort should be made to respect the solemn nature of Joplin’s history, the city should reconsider: Disaster tourism is a natural part of any tragedy that engages, and sometimes enrages, a nation.

An interesting perspective I hadn’t thought of before.  Usually, such activities are easily cast as predatory or manipulative.  However, the editors of the Globe make the good point that disasters are learning experiences, not just for those directly impacted but for society in general.  For every person who goes and tours a former disaster site, a few might go home and perhaps not only prepare for the unthinkable themselves, but share that message with others.

January 6, 2012

Dear Jeff: Network Like Crazy

Filed under: Education,Futures — by Philip J. Palin on January 6, 2012

In his Tuesday post Chris Bellavita introduced us to Jeffrey M. Cottam a twenty-something homeland security professional who is not contributing as much as he perceives he could contribute.  Jeff told Chris that after earning good grades at respected undergraduate and graduate programs, “(I did) expect that after 18 months or so I’d be an agent somewhere.”

Mr. Cottam’s circumstance seems to crystalize many recurring hopes, doubts, and dreams of homeland security.  Here’s my unsolicited advice.


Dear Jeff:

You have earned helpful educational credentials. (May your student loans be modest.)  You are in your late twenties.  You have a job. You are dissatisfied.

Count yourself lucky.

Bureaucracies are bad places for entry level people; even — perhaps especially — bureaucracies that call their employees “agents.”

Compliance is typically the easy and rewarded path in most bureaucracies.  Compliance is the enemy of creativity.  Creativity is the most valuable long-term skill.

Avoid bureaucracies until you have creative skills sufficiently strong to resist the soul-devouring maw of bureaucracies.  With that strength secured bureaucracies can be conducive to soul-growing, but mostly as a source of resistance training.

Claim and craft opportunities to be creative.  Fail more than a few times and learn from your failures.  Succeed and give particular attention to the most ephemeral elements essential to your success.

Any time before you die is a great time to be dissatisfied.  Be especially suspicious of self-satisfaction.

Responding to your letter sent to Homeland Security Today the editor David Silverberg advised, “Network like crazy.”

Yes.  Absolutely.

Attend the meeting no one else wants to attend. Volunteer.  Take a title and role for a dollar-a-day (in addition to your current employment).  Put yourself in the most difficult circumstances possible.   Contact the Red Cross — or a dozen other agencies — and get yourself the training and launch-pad to be deployed for the next Katrina, Haiti, Tohoku…

Network for others.  It will benefit you too.

Network to recognize and engage reality.  What’s really going on?  Network to recognize needs.  Network to recognize solutions to needs.  Network to apply solutions to needs (that’s the toughest networking).   What kind of networking works?  What kind of networking fails?  When? Where? With who?  Why?

What skills do you have in networking?  What deficiencies do you have in networking?  With whom can you network that will balance your deficiencies?  Who needs you?  Who do you need?

The social network has been the principal human experience for several millenia.  Our networks are increasingly dense, complicated, complex and evolving with increasing speed.  Never before has malevolent networking been more a threat. Never before has gratuitous self-involved networking been such a waste of time.  Never before has wise and effective networking been more valuable.

Especially in homeland security.

In my judgment the traditional public safety professions — firefighting, law enforcement, emergency management, public health, and others — are and will be fundamental to the homeland security mission.   The same is true of related private and civic functions.

If homeland security has any comparative advantage it is networking proactive prevention, mitigation, and preparedness across public, private, civic, jurisdictional and disciplinary boundaries.  Homeland security is about the big picture or it is redundant… or even worse.

This is much more than a job.  It is a calling to be creative when most others are satisfied to comply.

May you be in a constant state of creative dissatisfaction.  May you always be weaving webs of relationships.  May you walk, even dance the cusp of chaos.

January 3, 2012

Finding a job in homeland security

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on January 3, 2012

Jeff Cottam was 16 in September, 2001. Today he holds an undergraduate degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in the same field, with a homeland security emphasis. He also has “a deep desire to serve in the homeland security field.”

Last month Jeff wrote a letter to Homeland Security Today describing how and why he is “losing faith in my education.”

He has a job, and he realizes he is fortunate to have job in this economy. But it’s not a homeland security job.


“Seeing as DHS was established in the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack our nation has ever faced, I thought that pursuing an education which focuses primarily on this field would be more desirable; especially as it is such a rarity on the graduate level. To my dismay, this is apparently not the case.”

Jeff has applied to over 100 federal and other agencies. “I have not had one phone call informing me I passed the first phase in the application process.”

In addition to filling out applications and sending resumes, Jeff has also done face-to-face, friend-of-a-friend networking.

“The federal application process is mind numbing,” he told me in a phone call on Monday. “And I keep getting the same advice from the people I talk to: put your time in; your time will come.”

Jeff wasn’t whining when we spoke; and he wanted to make sure I understood that. He knows his limited experience — even including an internship with ATF — and the economy don’t make it easy to find the job he wants. But as he was finishing his graduate program, he did “expect that after 18 months or so I’d be an agent somewhere.”

That hasn’t happened.

“They don’t tell you that when you’re in grad school,” he said.

Jeff’s letter to Homeland Security Today referenced the many schools that offer homeland security degrees and specializations:

“I thought it should be brought to your attention that despite the fact that these respectable programs exist, they offer little hope to students graduating with little to no experience in the field who seek to contribute their skills immediately….I feel that this [homeland security education] is not as effective as it should be for such a relatively new field.”


I agree with the first part of Jeff’s assessment: a degree does not translate into a job.

People with a homeland security related degree and little relevant work experience have to compete in an economy that has (among other features):

– a decreasing number of state and local homeland security-related jobs,

– fewer than 100,000 projected federal jobs in DHS and other federal agencies that have something to do with homeland security,

– and a “bleak glut” of unemployed veterans: 850,000 veterans can’t find work now, including 250,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars.

David Silverberg, the Homeland Security Today editor, disagrees with the second part of Jeff’s assessment about the effectiveness of a homeland security degree. Silverberg believes a person has a better chance finding a job within the enterprise — and being promoted — “with a homeland security education than without one.”


I think it can also be helpful to think about homeland security as a field where you have as good a chance creating your own job as you do finding a homeland security job you’ll fit into.

It’s still an open question (at least to me) what homeland security is. I continue to think that openness is a good thing because it keeps conversation (and job possibilities) open for what is to come in homeland security, rather than focusing exclusively on what it has been during its first decade.

In my experience a good post-secondary education (as opposed to graduate training) is largely about learning – or rediscovering –  how to be curious, think critically, communicate effectively and work collaboratively with other people. There are a lot of ways to gain that knowledge – whether it involves discussing great ideas or getting your hands dirty – but the payoff is a set of skills for a “field” where the half life of knowledge is months, if not weeks.

Duqu anyone?


Silverberg’s response to Jeff Cottam’s letter noted that homeland security has an especially acute need for people who understand cybersecurity.

Cyber is not the only need for Homeland Security 2.0, but it’s one that can serve a point I want to make.

I am struck by the number of homeland security executives I run into who remain clueless about the nature and scope of cyber security issues. During seminars I’m involved in, it’s the one topic everyone takes notes on.  I think it is  because few executives believe they really understand what cyber security issues are or how important they could be to homeland security.

When I spoke with Jeff, he mentioned he spent about 30% of his job working with data bases. From that perspective, one might argue that Jeff already has a homeland security job. But I’m not sure he realizes it.

No it’s not his dream job. But it is a foot in the door, or at least a door, leading into the wider world of homeland security.

Working on data bases is not being a cyber warrior. But what else is going on in his city and his state that is related to cyber security? How can he connect with that world?

Everywhere I’ve looked, small groups of overworked men and women have responsibility for the continuously metamorphosing cyber domain that may or may not be a big part of homeland security’s future.  I’m not sure how many job openings there are for “cyber security agent.”  But I believe this is a terrain ripe for creating a homeland security job.

I wonder what other openings there are to create homeland security jobs that do not already exist.


The Wall Street Journal reported on a study of 10,000 people. People in that study between 18 and 42 years of age had, on average, 11 jobs.  That’s a new job — in a new organization or not — every two years or so.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect people like Jeff who have desire, education, skills and a job to take advantage of those significant opportunities to create – rather than find – a homeland security job worth having.

I hope homeland security educational programs are teaching that idea as a part of their programs.

I also hope those programs talk straight with prospective students — including veterans returning to school — about the real job opportunities in homeland security and what it takes to exploit those opportunities.

December 13, 2011

Education as a homeland security concern: what the military can teach us

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

In May 2010, the National Security Strategy identified the need to strengthen the US educational system as an integral part of our national security interests:

The United States has lost ground in education, even as our competitiveness depends on educating our children to succeed in a global economy based on knowledge and innovation. We are working to provide a complete and competitive education for all Americans, to include supporting high standards for early learning, [and] reforming public schools….

The National Strategic Narrative considered education one of the nation’s three primary investment priorities:

By investing energy, talent, and dollars now in the education and training of young Americans – the scientists, statesmen, industrialists, farmers, inventors, educators, clergy, artists, service members, and parents, of tomorrow – we are truly investing in our ability to successfully compete in, and influence, the strategic environment of the future.

A few months ago, my colleague Sam Clovis also argued that “public education reform must be part of any serious discussion about national or homeland security.”

He outlined the abysmal state of American schools and some of its consequences:

  • …Forty years ago, the United States was number one in academic performance in the world. Today, the US ranks twenty-fourth is math and twenty-fifth in science.
  • Fewer than 35 percent of students achieve basic proficiency at grade level.
  • The overall high school graduation rate for the country is around 70 percent. Some 1.2 million children drop out of school during each academic year. Dropout rates among minorities is alarming, with Native Americans’ dropout rate at 49 percent, African Americans’ at 45 percent, and Hispanics’ at 44 percent.
  • Of all individuals incarcerated in the country, 68 percent lack a high school education.
  • No major city in the nation has a graduation rate above 64 percent. Detroit, Los Angeles, and San Antonio have graduation rates of 38 percent, 44 percent, and 47 percent, respectively.
  • Current unemployment rates for individuals with less than a high school education is 16 percent, nearly twice the national rate.
  • Closing the performance gap between the US and other developed nations – between minorities and between similar schools – would add $2.31 trillion to the gross domestic product of the nation. This would mean an additional $415 billion in revenue at the national level and $138 billion at the state and local level.

Clovis’ wants to

…call the attention of my homeland security colleagues to the idea that public education reform must be part of any serious discussion about national or homeland security. A better-educated citizenry will be less dependent on government and more independent in times of crisis. A better-educated citizenry will be more attentive to issues and challenges at the state and local level and more engaged at the national level. A better-educated citizenry will cost less in public funding and will contribute more to the public coffers. Ultimately, a better-educated citizenry will be the guarantor of security for the nation and liberty for the individual.


So, what to do about this?

The Bush Administration championed No Child Left Behind.  The Obama Administration created the Race to the Top.  Both programs rely on standardized testing and government (sometimes federal, sometimes state) micro-oversight of schools and curriculum.

The results of No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top are mixed. Both initiatives have detractors and supporters, with anecdotes and studies to support their varied claims of success and failure.


I came across a story by Michael Winerip about the 2011 the National Assessment of Educational Progress federal testing program results.

“…once again, schools on the nation’s military bases have outperformed public schools on both reading and math tests for fourth and eighth graders.”….

At the military base schools, 39 percent of fourth graders were scored as proficient in reading, compared with 32 percent of all public school students.

Even more impressive, the achievement gap between black and white students continues to be much smaller at military base schools and is shrinking faster than at public schools….

In fact, the black fourth graders at the military base schools scored better in reading than public school students as a whole….

…In the last decade, the gap in reading between black and white fourth graders at base schools has decreased to 11 points this year (233 compared with 222), down from a 16-point difference in 2003 (230 compared with 214), a 31 percent reduction. In public schools, there has been a much smaller decrease, to a 26-point gap this year (231 compared with 205) from 30 points in 2002 (227 compared with 197), a 13 percent reduction.

People trying to explains the comparative success of the military education program

…would find that the schools on base are not subject to … No Child Left Behind, or … Race to the Top. They would find that standardized tests do not dominate and are not used to rate teachers, principals or schools.

In the military base schools, standardized tests are used as originally intended, to identify a child’s academic weaknesses and assess the effectiveness of the curriculum.

One military base school principal believes that military base schools are more nurturing than public schools. “We don’t have to be so regimented, since we’re not worried about a child’s ability to bubble on a test,” [the principal] said.

Military children are not put through test prep drills. “For us,” [the principal] said, “children are children; they’re not little Marines.”

There are other factors in play; it’s not just about the schools:

Helping children succeed academically is about a lot more than what goes on inside the schools. Military parents do not have to worry about securing health care coverage for their children or adequate housing. At least one parent in the family has a job.

… A family’s economic well-being has considerable impact on how students score on standardized tests, and it is hard to make exact comparisons between military and public school families. But by one indicator, families at military base schools and public schools have similar earnings: the percentage of students who qualify for federally subsidized lunches is virtually identical at both, about 46 percent….

The military command also puts a priority on education. [One person], a petty officer who is stationed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., is given time off from work to serve as president of the base’s school board and coach middle school basketball and track teams.

Parents with children at the civilian schools … have not received that kind of support from their employers. “If Dad works in a factory, he gets three absences and he’s fired,” [a principal] said.

One data point does not a panacea make.  (For other perspectives, see this link, and this link.) I don’t know enough about the education policy domain to understand any dark side to the military school approach.  But the data in Winerip’s story hints at an alternative to the current mechanistic models of school improvement: i.e., hire motivated teachers and principals; let them do their job as they think best; monitor and publish the results; modify activities as needed; repeat.


Is improving public schools a homeland security issue?

I think it is.

As the National Preparedness Goal makes clear, “National preparedness is the shared responsibility of our whole community.”

I do not think it is a Department of Homeland Security issue.

But not everything homeland security belongs to DHS.


The National Preparedness Goal defines success as

A secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.

A dilapidated public education system is as much a threat to our national interests as other crumbling infrastructure.

We achieve the Preparedness Goal, in part, by

Protecting our citizens … against the greatest threats and hazards in a manner that allows our interests, aspirations, and way of life to thrive.

Terrorism, disasters, and the usual threat suspects cannot be ignored. But focusing exclusively on past evils will not open the path to a future worth creating.

A resilient nation requires a resilient education system.

Maybe we learn something about how to get there by listening to what the K-12 schools on military bases have to teach.






October 11, 2011

The Naval Postgraduate School’s Homeland Security Reading List

Filed under: Education,General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on October 11, 2011

Here is a list of books the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center For Homeland Defense and Security use in its master degree program.

The works that follow, presented (mostly) in alphabetical order by author, include only books and monographs.  The list does not include the journal articles, reports, and other documents that make up the required reading in the program’s dozen master’s degree courses.  The list is current as of  late summer.

I took most of the brief descriptions that follow the book’s title from reviews I found on Amazon.


  1. Adler, Mortimer J. & Charles Van Doren (1972). How to Read a Book: A Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (rev): The New Yorker says “It shows concretely how the serious work of proper reading may be accomplished and how much it may yield in the way of instruction and delight.”
  2. Andrew S. Grove (1999). Only the Paranoid survive: How to exploit the crisis points that challenge every company: Steve Jobs said “This book is about one super-important concept. You must learn about Strategic Inflection Points, because sooner or later you are going to live through one.”
  3. Aslan, Reza. (2009) Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting the Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization 2009: The School Library Journal says “This book offers an informed critique of good-and-evil dualisms on both sides in the war on terror.”
  4. Bardach, Eugene (2008). Practical Guide to Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving(3rd ed.): “Students consistently give this perspicacious presentation of policy analysis fundamentals high marks for its clarity and insight,” says Robert P. Goss
  5. Barrett, Frank J. and Ronald E. Fry (2005). Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Approach to Building Cooperative Capacity: “This book provides a concise introduction to and overview of the growing discipline and practice of Appreciative Inquiry,” says one description of the book.
  6. Berger, Peter L. & Luckman, Thomas (1967). The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge: A long time ago the American Sociological Review called this book “… A major breakthrough in the  sociology of knowledge.” It still is.
  7. Berman, Paul (2004). Terror and Liberalism: Publishers Weekly said “Berman puts his leftist credentials … on the line by critiquing the left while presenting a liberal rationale for the war on terror, joining a discourse that has been dominated by conservatives.”
  8. Bernays, Edward (2004). Propaganda New York: Noam Chomsky said this “honest and practical manual [originally published in the 1920s] provides much insight into some of the most powerful and influential institutions of contemporary industrial state capitalist democracies.”
  9. Bobbitt, Philip (2009). Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century: This is the most thought provoking homeland security book I’ve read.

10.  Bongar, Bruce Michael, et al. (2007). Psychology of Terrorism: The International Journal of Emergency Mental Health says “it would be difficult to find a more thorough and comprehensive compendium on the psychology of terrorism in all its important aspects than that represented by this volume.”

11.  Booth, Wayne & Gregory G. Colomb & Joseph M. Williams (2008). Craft of Research (3rd ed.): This is “a well-constructed, articulate reminder of how important fundamental questions of style and approach … are to all research, says the Times Literary Supplement.  It is the “first option offered to students who ask ‘Just how should I begin my research?'” says someone from the Business Library Review.

12.  Brafman, Ori and Rod A. Beckstrom (2008). Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations: Publishers Weekly believes this book is “a breezy and entertaining look at how decentralization is changing many organizations.”

13.  Brannan, David, Bruce Hoffman, Eric Herren, and Robert Matthiessen (2007). Preparing for Suicide Terrorism: A Primer for American Law Enforcement Agencies and Officers: is a “for official use only monograph.”

14.  Brockman, John (2006). What We Believe but Cannot Prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Uncertainty: The American Library Association says in this book “more than 100 notable scientists and scholars answer the question, ‘What do you believe even though you cannot prove it?’”

15.  Bryson, John M. (2004). Strategic Planning for Public and Non-Profit Organizations (3rd Edition): Hal G. Rainey says “Anyone professing competence in public and nonprofit management needs to know what Bryson says about strategic planning.”

16.  Bulliet, Richard W. (2004). Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization: The Washington Monthly says according to this book “there is a far better case for ‘Islamo-Christian civilization’ than there is for a clash of civilizations.”

17.  Chicago Manual of Style (16th): According to the New Yorker, “The Sixteenth Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is here, and it’s hard for some of us to contain our excitement.”

18.  Clarke, Richard and Knake, Robert (2010). Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It: The Financial Times says “It is worth [reading] this book if only for [the] pithy five-page vision of [the] coming apocalypse and a return to stone-age conditions within a week, all because of a few pesky hackers and viruses.”

19.  Clayton M. Christensen (1997). The Innovator’s Dilemma:  This book describes how disruptive technologies can redefine the landscape, sort of what Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party folks are trying to do.

20.  Covey, Stephen M.R. with Rebecca R. Merrill (2008). Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything: Warren Bennis says this book is “brave, imaginative, amazingly prescient, and backed up by empirical and analytical heft.”

21.  Creswell, John W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches: This book provides a practical guide to designing, executing and presenting research.

22.  Cronin, Audrey Curth and Ludes, James M. (Eds.) (2004). Attacking Terrorism: Elements of a Grand Strategy: Kurt M. Campbell calls this an “unusually interesting, readable, and well integrated look at the essential elements needed for an American grand strategy to confront the scourge of global terrorism.”

23.  Davis, Paul K. & Brian M. Jenkins (2002). Deterrence & Intelligence in Counterterrorism: A Component in the War on al Qaeda: This monograph – available from RAND and elsewhere – “summarizes the findings of a six-month project on deterrence of terrorism.” It remains one of the most thoughtful and comprehensive discussions of deterrence.

24. Descartes, Rene (2006, by way of 1637). Discourse on the Method for Conducting One’s Reason Well and for Seeking Truth in the Sciences: How “perfect knowledge can be achieved by means of perfect, individual reasoning.”

25.  Donatella Meadows (2008). Thinking in Systems: Peter Senge says “The publication of Meadows’ previously unfinished manuscript is a gift for leaders of all sorts and at all levels.”

26. Eggers, Dave (2010). Zeitoun: “the story of one man’s experience after Hurricane Katrina,… a successful Syrian-born painting contractor, decides to stay in New Orleans and protect his property while his family flees.”  A disturbing narrative.

27.  Entman, Robert (2003). Projections of Power: Framing News, Public Opinion, and U.S. Foreign Policy: The book jacket says this is “an essential guide for political scientists, students of the media, and anyone interested in the increasingly influential role of the media in foreign policy.”

28.  Fanon, Frantz (2005, via the 1961). The Wretched of the Earth 2005: Jean-Paul Sartre says “Have the courage to read this book.”

29.  Frankfurt, Harry G. (2005). On Bullshit: The author asks why “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.”

30.  Freier, Nathan (2009). DoD Leaders, Strategists, and Operators in an Era of Persistent Unconventional Challenge: “This study argues that the future security environment will be dominated by unconventional threats and challenges that lie outside the boundaries of traditional warfighting.”

32. Gerencser, Mark (2008). Megacommunities: How Leaders of Government, Business and Non-Profits Can Tackle Today’s Global Challenges Together: Newt Gingrich  says “… these concepts work,” and promises that “We’ll be applying the methods explained in this important book even more ambitiously in the months ahead.”

33. Godin, Seth (2011). Poke the Box: When Was the Last Time you did something for the first time?: This powerfully irritating manifesto says all your good ideas matter little unless you ship something.

34.  Hewitt, Christopher (2002). Understanding Terrorism in America: This book “surveys the characteristics and causes of terrorism and governmental responses to it.”

35.  Hoffman, Bruce (2006). Inside Terrorism: The Washington Post calls this “The best one-volume introduction to” terrorism.

36.  Johnson, Loch K. and James J. Wirtz (2010). Intelligence: The Secret World of Spies: An Anthology: “An admirable contribution to the intelligence canon,” says Mark M. Lowenthal.

37.  Jones, Morgan D. (1998). The Thinker’s Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving: “A collection of proven, practical methods for simplifying any problem and making faster, better decisions every time,” says the product description.

38.  Kelly, Joesph F. (2003). Responding to Evil: This book asks how good and evil can be reconciled.

39.  Kettl, Donald F. (2007). System under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics: A public administration scholar looks at the first few years of homeland security.

40.  Kim, W. Chan & Renee Mauborgne (2005). Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant: A “vision of the kind of expanding, competitor-free markets that innovative companies can navigate….  Swim for open waters.”

41.  Laurence, Jonathan & Justin Vaisse (2006). Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France: The American Prospect calls this “an exceedingly important read for anyone trying to understand how governments can help promote (or stunt) the integration process of Muslim immigrants to Europe.”

42.  Leedy, Paul and Jeanne Ormand (2009). Practical Research: Planning and Design: A “’do-it-yourself, understand-it-yourself’ manual designed to help research students in any discipline understand the fundamental structure of quality research and the methodical process that leads to genuinely significant results,” promises the product description.

43.  Lewis, Ted (2006). Critical Infrastructure Protection in Homeland Security: Defending a Networked Nation: Homeland Security Watch says “The book is written as a student textbook, but it should be equally valuable for current practitioners…this book is a very worthwhile investment.”

44.  Lewis, Ted. (2010) Bak’s Sand Pile: The author says “Modern societies want to avert catastrophes, but the drive to make things faster, cheaper, and more efficient leads to self-organized criticality-the condition of systems on the verge of disaster.”

45.  Lowenthal, Mark M (2011). Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy: This is “the go-to book for the most comprehensive overview on the U.S. intelligence community,” says Michael Bennett .

46.  Mansfield, Laura (2006). His Own Words: A Translation and Analysis of the Writings of Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri: “The vision of Al Qaeda as it is articulated by one of its founders,” says a book reviewer.

47. Mintzberg, Henry (2005). Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through The Wilds of Strategic Management: I don’t know a better overview of strategy.

48.  Moghaddam, Fathali (2010). The New Global Insecurity: How Terrorism, Environmental Collapse, Economic Inequalities, and Resource Shortages Are Changing Our World:  The author “analyzes the elements and roots of global insecurity, discussing it in relation to terrorism, torture, economic instability, threatened identity, and religious fundamentalism.”

49.  Moghaddam, Fathali (2008). How Globalization Spurs Terrorism: The Lopsided Benefits of “One World” and Why that Fuels Violence: Paul Ehrlich says this provides “the Big Picture for better understanding radicalization and terrorism in the 21st century.”

50.  Moghaddam, Fathali (2007). Multiculturalism and Intergroup Relations: Psychological Implications for Democracy in a Global Context: An exploration of “the large-scale migration of refugees fleeing international conflict as well as the effects of 9/11 and the violent conflicts that have erupted in its wake.”

51.  Moghaddam, Fathali M. (2006). From the Terrorists’ Point of View: What They Experience & Why They Come to Destroy: Masur Lalljee  calls this “A fascinating study into the development of the perspective of the terrorist. The ‘Staircase to Terrorism’ is a powerful metaphor.”

52.  National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (2004). 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Required reading, for as long as we talk about homeland security.

53.  Provost, Gary (1985). 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing: Way number 1 – get some reference books.

54.  Reynolds, Garr (2008). Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery: Check out the pecha-kucha style for powerpoint presentations (and the presentation zen website).

55.  Sims, Jennifer & Burton Gerber (2005). Transforming U.S. Intelligence: “[T]ransforming intelligence requires as much a look to the future as to the past and a focus more on the art and practice of intelligence rather than on its bureaucratic arrangements.”

56.  Stewart Baker (2010). Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism: The Wall Street Journal describes this as “a memoir of day-to-day life within a major Washington bureaucracy [DHS] and an insider’s analysis of the challenges to domestic security in the post 9/11 era.”

57.  Tajfel, Henri (2010). Social Identity and Intergroup Relations:a collection of articles about social identity theory.

58.  Taleb, Nassim Nicholas (2010). The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: “On Robustness and Fragility: Niall Ferguson says this is “Idiosyncratically brilliant.”

59.  Van Der Heijden, Kess (2005). Scenarios: the art of strategic conversation: Probably the definitive contemporary work on scenario planning.

60.  Wolf, Naomi (2007). End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot: Wolf cautions how “fascism can exist without dictatorship.”

61.  Zegart, Amy B. (2009). Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI & Origins of 9/11: Graham Allison believes this is “An outstanding demonstration of how the adaptation failures of the CIA and FBI before and after 9/11 lie in deep-rooted organizational deficiencies and not individuals asleep at the switch.”

62.  Zimbardo, Philip and John Boyd (2008). Time Paradox: The New Psychiatry of Time that Will Change your Life: This work will “help you understand the source of many of the world’s greatest triumphs and most pressing problems — from terrorism to homelessness, from religion to love, from the successes and failures of CEOs to those of marriages,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky.

63.  Zimbardo, Philip G. (2008). Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil: Zimbardo describes how “almost anyone, given the right ‘situational’ influences, can be made to abandon moral scruples and cooperate in violence and oppression.”

64.  Zimmerman, Doron & Andreas Wenger, eds (2006). How States Fight Terrorism: Policy Dynamics in the West: The book describes “how national governments are struggling to cope with the complex threat of mass-casualty terrorist attacks carried out by armed groups driven by ideological and/or religious motivations.”

65.  Zinsser, William K. (2001). On Writing Well, 25th Anniversary: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction: This is a book “for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day,” whether a memo, report or a blog post.



August 16, 2011

Homeland security: Interdisciplinary learning for an emerging discipline

Filed under: Education — by Philip J. Palin on August 16, 2011

Most of last week HLSWatch gave focused attention to The Challenges of Developing a Homeland Security Discipline to Meet Future Threats to the Homeland by Linda Kiltz.  Below is a reply and further considerations by Dr. Kiltz.  She has also posted more specific replies to several of the comments made last week using the comment function for each of the posts.


Thank you to all of those who participated in discussion on the challenges of homeland security education. I appreciate the thoughtful dialogue and debate on some of the critical issues I raised in this article.  While I believe there continues to be a need for more discussion on what a standardized homeland security undergraduate and graduate curriculum would entail, I believe we need to move on to more critical issues that require great thinking.  First, we need to have greater debate and scholarship on the definition of homeland security.  We need to move beyond what government policy documents provide in terms of definitions and begin to explain what we mean by homeland security.  Is it a concept, an organization, an area of research, or a policy domain?  If a definition is a statement that specifies or identifies critical properties or features of a concept then what would these be for homeland security?  While this endeavor may produce no agreed upon definition, it could at least lay the foundation for building a theoretical foundation in this emerging field.

Second, many scholars have discussed the multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary nature of homeland security.  I suggested that we initially use a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning due to the inherent challenges in trying to design, develop and implement interdisciplinary programs.  I think it will be critical to move to a more interdisciplinary approach in the future due to the complex, interdependencies inherent in homeland security.  Klein (1990) states, “Interdisciplinary education has been variously defined as a methodology, a concept, a process, a way of thinking, a philosophy, and a reflexive ideology.  It has been linked with attempts to expose the dangers of fragmentation, to re-establish old connections, to explore emerging relations and to create new subjects adequate to handle our practical and conceptual needs.  Cutting across all these theories is a recurring idea.  Interdisciplinarity is a means of solving problems and answering questions that cannot be satisfactorily addressed using single methods or approaches.”

Despite the challenges in creating and implementing interdisciplinary programs, I believe all of us can begin to implement interdisciplinary teaching practices.  Below are ten suggestions for interdisciplinary teaching.  Examples of how each of these activities has been integrated into a course would be helpful to HS educators.

Ten Suggestions for Interdisciplinary Teaching

1. The objective of interdisciplinary teaching is to assist students with seeing complex problems and solutions from a holistic and global perspective … reviewing the history of the pedagogical approach may be helpful, as well as linking it to the increasingly global nature of contemporary society (the world wide web, multi-national organizations, etc.)

2. Identify specific outcomes that illustrate interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving.

3. Construct lessons around a particular question or problem, and take time to identify the disciplines that may offer insights, responses and solutions.

4. Take time to identify issues both central and peripheral to the problem or question; explore how addressing the periphery could enhance the process of problem solving.

5. Explore how various disciplines would resolve an issue; analyze discipline-centric concepts and theories by investigating the success of their applications and comparing and contrasting various multi-disciplinary approaches.

6. Assist students with content analysis of unfamiliar sources that may represent documents outside their chosen field of study; allow them to evaluate the credibility of sources through small group discussion.

7. To enrich critical thinking and writing skills, provide ample opportunities for students to reflect upon the process of their problem solving and their insights on the relationship between the knowledge base and skills of different disciplines.

8. Generate rubrics for student work that satisfies both formative and summative assessments, and be sure to integrate interdisciplinary elements into the rubric.

9. Integrate skills into the problem-solving protocols that draw upon critical thinking, such as statistical literacy, content analysis, and deductive compositions.

10. Integrate conversations about interdisciplinary learning into the challenges we face in homeland security.

Selected Publications

• Augsburg, Tanya. Becoming Interdisciplinary: An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, 2nd Ed. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 2006

• Froderman, Robert, Julie T. Kline, and Carl Mitchman, eds. Oxford Handbook on Interdisciplinarity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2009

• Klein, Julie T., Humanities, Culture, and Interdisciplinarity: The Changing American Academy. Albany State University of New York Press, 2005

• Klein, Julie. T. (1990). Interdisciplianrity: History, theory and practice. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

• Klein, Julie T., “Resources for Interdisciplinary Studies.” Change (March/April 2005): 52-58.• Repko, Allen. Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory. Los Angeles and London: Sage, 2008

• Woods, Charlotte. “Researching and Developing Interdisciplinary Teaching: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Classroom Communication” Higher Education. Vol. 54 Issue 6, p. 853-866. Dec. 2007

August 15, 2011

Should Homeland Security Education Sleep With the Fishes?

Filed under: Education — by Arnold Bogis on August 15, 2011

“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?

Just a thought as post-script to an interesting HLS Watch post this weekend provided by a mystery scholar…(perhaps it should have been labeled the “Long Blog” or the “X Post?”)


August 13, 2011

“Fundamental challenges of homeland security education:” Preliminary findings

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

This post summarizes some preliminary findings from an empirical study of homeland security education.  Because Homeland Security Watch has been discussing education this week, the author allowed me to post this summary.  However, since the findings and conclusions are still provisional, the author requested not using the author’s name until the study has been finalized.  Once it is, I will provide information about how to obtain the full work.


Fundamental Challenges of Homeland Security Education

A growing question is arising as to the focus and status of the “academic discipline” of homeland security.  This is not unique to homemade security.

A quote attributed to Paul Samuelson, the Nobel Laureate Economist, in his Collected Scientific Papers on the state of the discipline of economics seems appropriate: “Economics has never been a science, and is even less now than a few years ago.”

Similarly, homeland security education seemed to be more coherent a few years ago than now.  A few graduate programs were engaged in educating homeland security practitioners, assessing the value and relevance of the curricula, and making deliberate, thoughtful changes based on the evidence.  Educational volume increased and many in academe as well in the workforce established their versions of “model” curricula.   By 2007 the crowded field was metastasizing:

The homeland security academic discipline is currently an evolving ungoverned environment of numerous programs purporting to prepare students for various positions of responsibility. Many of today’s homeland security offerings are an amalgam of pre-9/11 programs and courses that have since been revised to reflect some undetermined level of education and instruction in homeland security issues.[1]

Curricula appear to be touted more than tested.  However, rather than take a completely negative position, there is support for a synthesized “way forward” toward an academic homeland security discipline.

Abbott describes academic disciplines as social and cultural entities for which there are few rules but two main functions:

Reproduction (of Employment for Academics): “being an academic means, willy-nilly, being a member of a discipline” and

Preventing Knowledge from becoming too Abstract or Overwhelming: “Disciplines … define what is permissible not to know and thereby limit the body of books one must have to read.”[2]

One function is self-serving, the other is self-limiting.   Neither function is especially appealing at this stage of development of homeland security education but the need to assess the status of homeland security education has never been more important.

The Homeland Security Education Project

This [research] project began with an assumption: the emerging discipline of homeland security is in the germinal stages of development with a clear direction and focus, even if the elements of the discipline are somewhat unclear.

The research presented here does not support the assumption of a discipline, and it is not clear that there will be an academic discipline of homeland security. The future will be determined by the degree to which academics in homeland security can offer better solutions to problems, and subject-specific knowledge than parallel disciplines.

Issues Facing Homeland Security Education

There are many good reasons to applaud the emergence of homeland security as a new academic discipline.  Encouraging the coalescing of research and knowledge around the critical issues inherent in homeland security is important.  A colleague is fond of quoting a line from Mao Tse Tung, “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences….”   If homeland security is destined to be an academic discipline, it should become increasingly evident as more research is conducted, more theories tested and refined, and more scholarly publications emerge, not simply an increasing number of degree programs seeking to increase head-count.

Students, particularly undergraduate students, rely on faculty and university administrators to exercise good judgment in developing academic programs and pursuing the students to populate them.  There are two honorable reasons to lure students into classes – enhance vocational capabilities and become better educated citizens.  Some programs blend or balance the two, probably compromising one, the other or both.  One issue at hand is the degree to which homeland security education, as currently conceived, addresses either of these objectives.  If it does, students should be encouraged to enroll, complete degrees and accomplish the objectives of the education.  If it does not, homeland security is still a viable research area, attracting multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary attention to the safety and security issues facing the nation.   …[But] the trust of the consumers of education, the students, should not be lost.

The method adopted for constructing this [analysis] is the customary research process common in the social sciences.  Problems and issues are articulated, research questions identified, literature reviewed to formulate possible answers to the research questions, research products described, and conclusions stated that flow logically from the research.  Based on the answers to these research questions, recommendations on a way forward will be made, based on all evidence.

[“Research Method” not included in this summary]

Research Findings [excerpt; supporting data not always included in this summary]

1. Who should be the consumers of homeland security education?

The most critical, and perhaps the exclusive consumers for homeland security education today are practitioners, with homeland security administrative or leadership responsibilities, working in the 51 professional disciplines or groups identified in the research.  Additionally, the most appropriate tier of education is at the first graduate level (Master’s degree).  Committees sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, meeting in 2004 and 2005 identified some core elements of a homeland security curriculum, however, the report stated clearly and unambiguously, “Not a single workshop participant, or any of the committee members, voiced support for an undergraduate degree program focused specifically on homeland security.”[3] Additionally … that education is [probably] best provided at the graduate level.[4] Training is appropriate for many others in the professional disciplines but the objectives and capabilities described [in the study] are most appropriate for graduate education.

2. What is the efficacy of such education?

The research suggests that graduate education could prepare professionals in homeland security leadership positions to be much more effective in their capability to operate in an ambiguous environment …, engage in strategic collaboration …, and engage in critical thinking ….   It would appear that undergraduate vocational education in homeland security, as an employment opportunity, is not central to the largest potential employment, law enforcement, even though the professional discipline is engaged in homeland security preparedness activities….  It would appear that homeland security vocational education at an undergraduate level would not be effective in enhancing employment.

3. What learning objectives and capabilities should be the foundation of the education?

Based on data gathered since 2004 from 19 independent survey groups, across all major professional disciplines in homeland security, the most important objectives and capabilities for homeland security leaders and administrators are:

Strategic collaboration

  • Ability to coordinate, collaborate and communicate across agencies
  • Ability to identify and build strategic relationships within your homeland security organization and across the homeland security community
  • Capability to build, sustain and operate within interagency teams/task forces
  • Improve efforts for collaboration, information-sharing, threat recognition, and target hardening between various disciplines
  • Communicate appropriately with other agencies and organizations to insure the sharing of critical information during and following a homeland security threat or incident

Critical thinking and decision-making

  • Ability to think about complex issues using scientific/critical thinking approaches to solving problems and make sound judgments
  • Capability to take action that is consistent with available facts, constraints, and probable consequences
  • Ability to operate in extreme ambiguity.

The objectives and capabilities [identified above] were the items scored highest in importance by the [survey groups].  The entire list of categories of capabilities, from most important to least important, was:

  • Strategic collaboration
  • Critical thinking and decision-making
  • Foundations of Homeland Security
  • Analytical Capabilities
  • Leadership
  • Legal Issues
  • Strategic Planning
  • Cognate or Specific Knowledge
Arguably, [the] top two categories — strategic collaboration, and critical thinking and decision-making — could be imbedded in every course in a graduate curriculum and the results would enhance practitioners’ capabilities regardless of their professional discipline.

4. Is there sufficient agreement [about what] homeland security courses [should educate] appropriate students on the appropriate capabilities?

Based on available literature, it appears that there is no more agreement on homeland security core curricula today than in 2007 when Rollins and Rowan found “The homeland security academic discipline is currently an evolving ungoverned environment of numerous programs purporting to prepare students for various positions of responsibility.”[5]

5. Are established, more mature, parallel disciplines better capable of educating students on the appropriate capabilities?

While it was initially expected that existing programs such as Public Policy and Public Administration would better accomplish the two most important elements [above] and cognates could address the remaining ones, examination of the core courses in those disciplines seems to suggest otherwise….  The conclusion is … these parallel programs do not suffice in meeting the needs of homeland security graduate education.

6. Is homeland security a viable academic discipline?

The answer to this key research question is “Not at this time.”  Whether it is an interdisciplinary or a multi-disciplinary study area can be debated but it appears not to have evolved to a point where idiosyncratic theories and methods of research in homeland security are better paradigmatically than those of the disciplines initially producing them and coming together to address or assess the issues in homeland security.  Homeland security education appears to be too immature and amorphous, with its educational goals in dispute, to merit proceeding vigorously in the development of new programs beyond those providing the knowledge and capabilities needed by those leaders already in defined homeland security roles and key public safety positions, and producing evidence of the efficacy of the education.

Consider, for example, the list of things homeland security education is missing, according to Kiltz:

To date, there is no agreed upon definition of homeland security, no grand theory explaining the phenomenon of homeland security, no standardized curriculum, little discussion of the history, paradigms and philosophies of the field, and ill defined faculty roles.[6]

Faculty in the emerging discipline of homeland security, seeking to craft (or cobble together) courses and coursework, in their zeal to incorporate and homogenize the theories and research of others, may drift away from the areas of their expertise and do a less-than-creditable job instructing students when faculty more central to the disciplines being instructed are available.

A Way Forward

Steps forward are still possible, despite the skepticism of the paragraph above….

Continue to encourage graduate education, but strongly encourage the inculcation of [such objectives as ] … strategic collaboration capabilities, the ability to think critically and analytically, and the capability to operate in the ambiguous environment of homeland security.

The recommendations, going forward are:

  • Assess the courses and the program using those key [objectives] as dependent variables in the assessment processes;
  • Assess impact of homeland security education using disciplined, reliable methods that can discriminate effects…
  • Disseminate the results to other universities and colleges with recommendations of smart practices…
  • Encourage (through special journal issues, fellowships, and proactive recruitment) faculty in existing disciplines to adopt homeland security issues and problems within their research agendas….
  • Encourage the Department of Homeland Security to partner with the U.S. Department of Education, Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies to take a leadership role in a process similar to the Bologna Process…, using homeland security education as the example….
  • Engage representatives of more mature disciplines, already contributing to homeland security education and research, to be manifestly involved in the development of theories, methods, and analytical capabilities that should be considered in the development of graduate homeland security education….

Based on these recommendations, it should be feasible to then begin to formulate model curricula that are evidence-based.

[1] Rollins, John and Joseph Rowan. (2007). The Homeland Security Academic Environment: a Review of Current Activities and Issues for Consideration. Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium.

[2] Abbott, Andrew. (2001). Chaos of Disciplines. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. P. 130-131.

[3] Committee on Educational Paradigms for Homeland Security, National Research Council (2005). Frameworks for Higher Education in Homeland Security, National Academy of Science Press, p. 19. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11141.html

[4] Common, Michael Lamport. (2008). Introduction to the Model of Hierarchical Complexity and its Relationship to Postformal Action, World Futures, Vol. 64: 305–320 and Common, Michael Lamport. (2008). Implications  of Hierarchical Complexity for Social Stratification, Economics, and Education, World Futures, Vol. 64: 430–435.

[5] Rollins, John and Joseph Rowan. (2007). The Homeland Security Academic Environment: a Review of Current Activities and Issues for Consideration. Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium.

[6] Kiltz, Linda. (2011). The Challenges of Developing a Homeland Security Discipline to Meet Future Threats to the Homeland. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Vol. 8(2), Article 1, pp. 1-22, at p. 13.



Homeland Security Education: From pre-school to life long learning

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

This was originally posted by Phil Palin on August 12th

I appreciate Dr. Kiltz setting out the issue and offering a comprehensive and coherent framework to engage. I have critiqued some key elements of her framework. But she has done the better work of creating and offering the framework.

I have also appreciated my colleagues’ posts. Mark and I so often agree that we are probably each feeling vindicated to finally disagree with each other. The varied comments — with some sense of conversation — have been encouraging and helpful.

The exchange prompted some thinking. This is far from being sufficiently well-considered for the front page. But as a kind of mental exercise, here’s a strawman academic program for an ideal sort of professional involved in what we sometimes broadly and vaguely call homeland security.

Pre-School and Kindergarten: Develop soft skills of attention, perseverance, curiosity, collaborative problem-solving, negotiating shared space, toys, and other stuff, communication, building trust, and behaving in a trust-worthy way. As our frequent contributor John Comiskey has mentioned, he learned everything he needed to learn in kindergarten. Well, it would be nice to have it start even a bit earlier earlier.

Grades 1-4: Organized and individualized playful engagement with the external world especially the worlds of nature, numbers, words, and the social experience.

Grades 5-7: Organized and individualized engagement in how to conduct explorations and create experiences to share with others through research and design using science, writing, art, drama, math, programming, music, and other media meaningful to the learner and his/her context. Introduce learners to unfamiliar worlds including: foreign languages, different cultures, history, abstract mathematics, etc. , etc.

Grades 8-10: Team based and individualized experiences focused on how an individual productively engages with others — including very different others — to achieve shared objectives: the more tangible the better (including team sports), organized in a way to make explicit principles of individual integrity, personal creativity, the consequences of choice, justice, friendship, social effectiveness, the production of value, and differentiation of value.

Grades 11-13: Personal practica and adventures where the learner engages with others in something complicated — even better, complex — that is passionately important to the learner. With the help of mentors the learner reflects self-critically on the experience, especially using skills of analysis, synthesis, and creativity. Some of these practica and experiences would involve working in public safety, emergency management, firefighting, disaster response, emergency housing, and related concerns. Those emerging from these “adventures” would be the next generation of our professions.

Grades 14-16: Exploring the lessons-learned of others who have had adventures; including learning from literature, philosophy, religion, history, case studies, recreating laboratory experiments, and much, much more. Using their personal adventures as a touch-stones the young men and women (roughly 18-22 years of age) consider the lessons learned by others and what these other lessons may say to them. The skills of analysis, synthesis, and creativity are advanced as much as possible.

Life-long learning: After completing this 16 years of formal education our learners would join specific professions, such as law enforcement, firefighting, public health, and so on where they would receive profession-specific education and work across professions to solve real problems. At least every seven years our learners would have seven months of “refresher” learning in an explicitly interdisciplinary environment.

I pounded out this superficial vision in less than a half-hour.  It will not hold up to much specific scrutiny and is beyond any realm of practicality.

But, but… boy I think these kids would be some kind of police, firefighters, emergency managers and more.

“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.

Four for Saturday

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

I was going to use the Saturday spot to summarize the main points made over the past week in response to Linda Kiltz’s paper.  But given the breadth of the responses, I will forego a summary for now.  Interested readers who have not followed the conversation should start with the Monday, August 8th post, and look particularly at each day’s comments.

I would like to thank the homeland security watch bloggers and those who commented for using their valuable “cognitive surplus” to contribute to the continuing conversation about homeland security education and professionalism.

I would also like to thank Linda for her scholarship.  Linda will post her thoughts about this week’s discussion on Tuesday, August 16th.

I’d like to highlight in the next two posts (immediately above this one): comments from Phil Palin, and from Steve Ricca and his colleagues.

Phil created a pre-kindergarten through life-long-learning homeland security curriculum.

Steve posted some comments from several instructors developing a new journal, called The Journal of Homeland Security Education.

The final post for today summarizes some preliminary findings from an empirical study of homeland security education. The author allowed me to post these findings on homeland security watch, but since the findings and conclusions are still provisional, the author requested not using the author’s name until the study has been finalized.  Once it is, I will provide information about how to obtain the full work.

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