Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

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.

August 11, 2011

Security Through Diversity

Filed under: Education,Futures,General Homeland Security — by Mark Chubb on August 11, 2011

This is another in a series of posts considering the analysis and recommendations of Linda Kiltz in a recent edition of the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

–+–

Before reading Dr. Kiltz’s article outlining the challenges in developing a homeland security discipline, I was fiercely ambivalent about the wisdom of engaging in such an endeavor. In the interests of full-disclosure, this is a subject she and I discussed while I was on the faculty of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and she was finishing her doctorate there in 2007. Although I admire her scholarship and passion, which I have considered carefully, I am now convinced not only that we do not need a distinct homeland security discipline, but that its successful emergence could prove harmful to the enterprise itself.

Much of my concern arises not from how we might define what is or is not within the homeland security domain, but rather what we decide is and is not within a legitimate and well-defined curriculum to support the preparation of its practitioners. Dr. Kiltz writes:

The homeland security enterprise consists of public organizations at all levels of government, non-profit organizations and businesses. As such, there are hundreds of thousands of employees and volunteers that are involved in this enterprise with a broad range of job descriptions, duties and skills. In order to prepare professionals to serve within the homeland security enterprise, it will be necessary to provide them with the knowledge and skills to perceive, analyze and respond to disaster and crises from multiple perspectives and paradigms (Drabek, 2007; Waugh, 2006; Bellavita, 2008). While this certainly will be challenging, it will be critical given the on-going threats we will face now and in the future. The scope and magnitude of the disasters in 2010 provide us with a warning signal of increasingly catastrophic disasters to come.

I have significant issues with the two main propositions presented in this paragraph.

First, while accepting the existing diversity within the field as it currently exists, Dr. Kiltz fails to acknowledge what specific contributions each makes to the whole. Is that whole equal to, less than, or greater than the sum of its parts? If the success of the present enterprise is in anyway a product of its diversity, how then will a curriculum that draws only on limited parts of the contributing disciplines foster perspectives that improve the concentration or orientation of expertise rather than promoting its dilution or dissipation?

Second, the future for which Dr. Kiltz argues we must prepare practitioners is not so much a product of the threats we face as the vulnerabilities we have already created by investing too little energy and effort in protecting or leveraging the legacies of previous investments. The byproduct of defining progress in a way that equates it not so much with innovation as with newness and moreness, has been too little attention to or respect for the uncertainties, complexities and interdependencies that arise within and not just across existing disciplines.

This leaves me wondering, “What can a new homeland security discipline do to make other disciplines — those responsible for creating and managing the domains in which catastrophes and crises emerge — more efficient and effective at managing them?” The answer from Dr. Kiltz’s perspective, it seems, relies on the unstated assumption that we cannot rely on those who created our problems to offer us the solutions. When it comes to problems like climate change, as just one example, we have choice but to do just this.

Convincing existing disciplines to invest more energy and effort in mitigating the long-term effects of past decisions and recovering from their inevitable mistakes does not strike me as the province of one discipline. Although we would do well (when it comes to mitigation at least) to develop and encourage the capacity of our existing disciplines to become more constructively self-critical and less patch-protective, when consequences arise we have no choice but to depend upon the deep expertise of several disciplines rather than the broad and superficial expertise of one to resolve the effects and mount a recovery. 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.

The resilience of the homeland security enterprise depends as much on its diversity as any other system. Protecting our communities is not the province of any single group of individuals no matter how well intentioned or trained they may be. Security is a fundamentally collaborative endeavor, the strength and success of which depends less on the concentration found in any one part than the contributions of many.

August 8, 2011

“The Challenges of Developing a Homeland Security Discipline to Meet Future Threats to the Homeland”

Filed under: Education — by Christopher Bellavita on August 8, 2011

This week Homeland Security Watch will focus on homeland security as a professional and academic discipline.

As noted a few days ago, we will start with Linda Kiltz’s recent Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management paper called “The Challenges of Developing a Homeland Security Discipline to Meet Future Threats to the Homeland.”

I will summarize the main points of the Dr. Kiltz’s article today. Our regular writers will contribute their thoughts during the rest of the week.  Readers are encouraged to contribute to the conversation.

My summary consists primarily of excerpts taken from the paper, occasionally rearranged, and lightly edited to synthesize portions of the argument for this post.  I have not included the citations.

Interested readers are encouraged to read the complete paper for a detailed explication of the argument summarized here.

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The paper makes three central claims:

1. Homeland security education must continually adapt to future risks, threats and vulnerabilities. To do this, it will be necessary to consider homeland security thinking and practice from multiple perspectives and disciplines. Looking at the homeland security enterprise through a variety of perspectives can deepen understanding and shed additional light on the scope of the field or discipline.

2. Existing and future educational programs in homeland security should include the theories, practices and research methods of emergency management, despite the current cultural differences between emergency management and homeland security.

3. Homeland security education programs have to confront three challenges:

  • the development and implementation of a standardized curriculum with core functions and competencies that are inclusive of emergency management,
  • the evolution into a new academic discipline;
  • the adoption of multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning.

Need for Collaboration Between Emergency Management and Homeland Security

Our ability to plan, respond to and recover from a broad range of disasters in the future will be determined in large part by the quality of our local, state and national emergency management systems and homeland security policies and programs.

There can no longer be stove pipes and divisions between emergency management and homeland security practitioners and scholars as we educate and train professionals in these fields in the years ahead. The success of the homeland security enterprise depends on our ability in higher education to work collaboratively across disciplines to design, develop and teach a curriculum that prepares professionals across the entire domain of homeland security (including emergency management), and to conduct research that serves to enhance our understanding of the complexity of the homeland security enterprise.

Vision and Missions of Homeland Security

In order to build educational programs for the homeland security enterprise it is important to have a clear understanding of how the Department of Homeland Security and the Obama administration envision homeland security.

The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report (QHSR) sets forth a shared vision of homeland security in order to achieve a unity of purpose. This vision of homeland security assumes the functions needed to achieve that unity will include both emergency management and homeland security, and will be seen under one overarching concept of the homeland security enterprise that recognizes the need for joint actions and efforts across previously discrete elements of government and society.

The traditional view of homeland security focused on terrorism. The current view encompasses an all-hazards approach that recognizes the value of emergency preparedness structures and processes.

The homeland security missions include: preventing terrorism and enhancing security, securing and managing our borders, enforcing and administering our immigration laws, safeguarding and securing cyberspace, and ensuring resilience to disasters through hazard mitigation, and effective emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts. Accomplishing these missions is the responsibility not only of DHS, but also of the hundreds of thousands of people across all levels of government, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations.

To be successful in accomplishing these missions, homeland security professionals in the public and private sector must have a clear sense of what it takes to achieve this overarching vision, as well as the knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve national, state and local homeland security goals. Our challenge as homeland security scholars is developing and implementing undergraduate and graduate curriculum that is grounded in a set of core competencies, and continually adapts to future threats, hazards, risks and vulnerabilities.

Current and Future Threats

It will be necessary to provide homeland security professionals with the knowledge and skills to perceive, analyze and respond to disasters and crises from multiple perspectives and paradigms. This will be challenging and critical given the on-going threats and hazards we face now and in the future.

The scope and magnitude of the disasters in 2010 provide us with a warning signal of increasingly catastrophic disasters to come. These 2010 disasters include:

  • 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti
  • 8.8. magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile
  • Twenty earthquakes at a magnitude of 7.0 or higher before the end of the year
  • Record heat and drought in Russia,
  • Typhoons in the Philippines and China, and
  • Mass flooding in Pakistan.

Climate change is expected to have a number of adverse socio-economic impacts within the global environment, including:

  • Shortfalls in water for drinking and irrigation, with concomitant risks of thirst and famine;
  • Changes and possible declines in agricultural productivity stemming from altered temperature, rainfall, or pest patterns;
  • Spikes in the rates and extended geographic scope of malaria and other diseases;
  • Associated shifts in economic output and trade patterns;
  • Changes and possibly large shifts in human migration patterns; and
  • Larger economic and human losses attributable to extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

Coastal populations in North America will be increasingly vulnerable to climate change—and nearly 50 percent of Americans live within fifty miles of the coast.  Impacts of climate change in the U.S. include:

  • An increased likelihood of flooding throughout the nation,
  • More intense hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico,
  • An increase in the number and duration of urban wildfires,
  • More severe and longer heat waves, cyclones and winter storms.

It is clear that a homeland security curriculum focused on all hazards, disaster research and the practice of emergency management should be a major part of future undergraduate or graduate programs in this field.

Given the link between climate change and natural hazards, future curriculum in emergency management and homeland security should include topics related to the adverse physical, social, and security impacts of climate change on the United States.  Future emergency managers and homeland security professionals will need to evaluate and better understand how climate change could affect the identification and selection of disaster mitigation strategies, the types of preparedness activities that jurisdictions undertake, the execution of response operations, and the implementation of long-term recovery strategies.

In addition to preparing for more frequent and devastating natural disasters, professionals should also be prepared for unpredictable man-made and technical disasters such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The threat of terrorism persists. Another low-probability, high cost terrorist event appears to be inevitable given the on-going threat of terrorism, particularly by “homegrown” jihadists. Developing and implementing antiterrorism and counter terrorism strategies to this rapidly changing enemy will require homeland security management professionals to have an advanced understanding of terrorist organizations and terrorism.

Challenges in Developing Homeland Security Programs

To provide well-educated professionals for the homeland security threats described above, it is critical that academic programs in homeland security:

  • Develop and implement a standardized curriculum with core functions and competencies that are inclusive of emergency management,
  • Evolve into new academic disciplines or stay grounded in a traditional academic discipline, and
  • Utilize multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning.

Homeland Security degree programs were initially established with no standardized or consistent core curriculum. This is due, in part, to the lack of agreement about the definition of homeland security. Additionally few professional associations or government organizations provide program level student learning outcomes or guidance on model curriculum.

Emergency management has become more professionalized over the past three decades because of the increase in emergency management higher education programs.  Numerous workshop sessions at the FEMA Higher Education Conferences and scholarly articles have produced several lists for individual emergency management practitioners about competencies, and knowledge, skills and abilities for each level of education in emergency management and homeland security. For example, here is a list of graduate competencies generated in 2004.

The Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium has attempted to propose standardized educational outcomes at all degree levels in homeland security education. In 2010 a work group recommended core content areas to be included in homeland security graduate programs:

  • Current and emerging threats;
  • Context and organizations;
  • Policies, strategies and legal issues;
  • Processes and management; and
  • Practical applications.

The author synthesized a draft list of core functions and competencies for graduate programs in homeland security based on a review of her own research and related studies.

Comparing the list above with core competencies in emergency management suggest there are a number of areas of overlap that could be integrated into a comprehensive multi-disciplinary degree program. This will be difficult to do while there is no clearly defined set of standardized educational outcomes that is publicly available to guide program development in homeland security education across degree programs. If any level of integration is to be achieved between homeland security and emergency management programs, then the culture clashes between homeland security and emergency management scholars must be minimized.

To overcome some of these conflicts between these two fields, scholars in the fields of emergency management and/or homeland security would need to expand their vision and adjust their paradigms to be more inclusive of the concepts, theories, practices and methodologies used by the different disciplines in these fields. This can be very difficult because it requires conceptual competence-the ability to identify, interpret and apply appropriate tools from participating disciplines relevant to the problem at hand.

Another challenge in developing a homeland security program is identifying the academic discipline and department in which it should be situated within the university. This is necessary because homeland security is currently not an academic discipline. We need to ask ourselves a number of questions: Should homeland security be a subfield of public administration, political science, criminal justice, national security, or something else, or should it be developed into a new academic discipline?

For homeland security to become a discipline there must be consensus on the following topics commonly found within disciplines and reflecting core issues often found in accreditation:

  • Naming the field
  • Defining the field
  • Concepts: What are the key concepts and definitions? What is the core curriculum and does it serve both student and employer needs
  • History: What is the history of the field?
  • Theory: What are the theories, paradigms, and philosophies of the
  • field?
  • Methods: Which research methods should be taught to students?
  • Practice: What are the roles and relationships between educators and practitioners?
  • Student Outcomes Assessment: What are the demographic backgrounds of students? What types of recruitment and retention work best? What do graduates do with their new education? What are employer views of graduates?
  • Faculty Roles: What are the roles of faculty? How can faculty be evaluated?

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. Without these components of a discipline, it would be very difficult to create an interdisciplinary program despite the claims of some programs to have done this very thing.

An interdisciplinary program is one in which two or more disciplines are brought together preferably so that the disciplines interact with one another and have some effect on one another’s perspectives. Despite the benefits of interdisciplinary education, such an approach to homeland security is unrealistic at this time because the conditions necessary for such programs to succeed are too difficult to meet.

Homeland security education programs that are multidisciplinary are more realistic and easier to implement. Multidisciplinary is defined as “research, problem solving or teaching that mingles disciplines but maintains their distinctiveness.” It also refers to the involvement of several different professional areas, though not necessarily in an integrated manner. The advantages of multidisciplinary approaches are that they not only are much easier to develop, implement and evaluate, but also they still allow faculty and students to look at homeland security thinking and practice from multiple perspectives and disciplines.

Conclusion

Given even the challenges of implementing a multidisciplinary approach to homeland security education and its lack of disciplinary status, the best option may be to define homeland security as a subfield within a traditional discipline in the short term, while continuing moving toward becoming a discipline. In the meantime, there must be an on-going dialogue among homeland security scholars on whether homeland security is a discipline, a multidisciplinary endeavor, or a truly interdisciplinary field integrated into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Despite these challenges in developing homeland security education, homeland security has the potential to become an academic discipline if the academic community associated with it makes a concerted effort to develop a standardized curriculum with core functions and competencies, to shape the discipline in the future, and to construct the missing disciplinary components in partnership with scholars and practitioners in the field of emergency management. By working together we may some day be better able to answer the question, “What is homeland security?”

 

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