Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Homeland Security Education: A Way Forward

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Homeland Security Education: A Way Forward

Article excerpt


In a remarkable occurrence, the American people over the past decade have come to value the set of activities that comprise homeland security and the related tasks of emergency and crisis management. In the wake of terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and earthquakes, a more genuine appreciation has developed for prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation, recovery, and consequence management. More to the point, most people seem to realize these activities significantly contribute to the quality of life or lack thereof in our communities, today and in the future. Accordingly, an unusual importance has attached to these tasks. Their performance is less and less seen as an aspirational goal and has moved toward becoming at least an expectation if not a mandatory requirement. It is a worthwhile exercise to identify and nurture the catalysts that are capable of enhancing our government's abilities to successfully execute these tasks.

There is significant evidence that education is a potent and durable contributor to changing and enhancing performance in a wide range of endeavors in which excellence is sought.1 This fact, coupled with what has been a significant investment in homeland security education for the past several years, suggests two lines of inquiry.

* First, what is the value of homeland security education?

* Second, and perhaps more importantly, what is it that homeland security education ought to be doing - and ought not to be doing - to ensure better solutions or performance in the face of more challenging threats and incidents?

Absent this inquiry, the potential for being "prepared" is not high and the opposite is possible.

To conduct this exploration of what homeland security education ought to be in order to best address the exigencies of a better-prepared nation, ongoing research was synthesized and new research conducted in 2010 and 2011. It is important to clarify that the exploration focused on education, not on training. Education intends to enhance the performance of strategic, complex cognitive tasks, such as planning, coordination, and achievement of consensus. Training is best suited to improving the performance of more tactical, simpler tasks such as using weapons or equipment, entering dangerous "hot" zones, or negotiating physical barriers, all in conformity with existing standards.

To focus and guide the discovery of a plausible way ahead for homeland security education, the research addressed five fundamental questions, with each question asked in the context of an overarching goal of national preparedness.

1. Who should be the consumers of homeland security education? Or, asked differently: Who are the most appropriate students for homeland security education?

2. What is the effect of homeland security education? Or: What does homeland security education best prepare students to do?

3. What learning objectives and capabilities should be the foundation of homeland security education? Or: What should courses and curricula for homeland security education teach?

4. What courses and curricula best serve as vehicles for educating the appropriate students on the appropriate objectives and capabilities?

5. Other than homeland security programs, are there established, more mature fields/disciplines/programs that provide education to appropriate students on the appropriate capabilities for homemade security?

Research Method

These fundamental questions were posed adhering to a methodology significantly impacted by what is best characterized as "research informed curriculum design." The key feature of this methodology is the use of expert judges. The curricular elements are derived through research processes using subject matter experts to judge the worth and importance of the elements to them and other homeland security professionals like them.

Three distinct groups were surveyed for this research: (1) graduates of the master of arts degree program in National Security Affairs, Homeland Security and Defense, at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS); (2) faculty teaching in this program at NPS; and (3) subject matter experts outside of the NPS graduate degree program. …

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