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College Educators Convene for Faculty Development

Homeland security as an academic discipline has gained popularity in recent years with about 350 schools in the United States offering degrees in the field.

The current challenge? Developing faculty to teach those courses.

Thirty educators from across the country gathered for the one-week session held from Aug. 9-13 at the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) that was aimed at addressing that need.

"We’re starting to reach saturation in terms of developing homeland security programs," said Stan Supinski, director of the CHDS University and Agency Partnership Initiative (UAPI). "One of the problems now is finding qualified faculty."

Homeland security remains a bourgeoning discipline, but with a dearth of doctoral programs in place to develop the next generation of instructors, college professors teaching in this field are culled from other subject areas, such as law enforcement, political science or public health.

The inaugural CHDS Partnership Faculty Development Workshop shared insights into the courses taught at the Center, which is considered the gold standard of homeland security education.

"The whole purpose of this is to take existing UAPI members and help their faculty get smarter on the subjects that we teach so they can further develop their programs," Supinski said. "So, we’re trying to address that lack of qualified faculty issue."

Attendees had an opportunity to gain insight on some of the capstone subjects taught at the Center: Comparative Homeland Security; Technology and Homeland Security; Interdisciplinary Approaches to Homeland Security; and, Introduction to Homeland Security Leadership.

CHDS faculty offered their insights into the basic elements of these courses.

"We realize that in a week’s time we can’t take these folks and turn them into experts in the areas we have chosen, but what we can do is give them basics, tell them how we do it, we can point them to the materials that we use," Supinski noted.

Keith Logan, assistant professor of criminal justice at Kutztown University, said he found the section on comparative homeland security particularly helpful.

"We have little opportunity to see homeland security from the perspective of other countries," Logan said. "I understand homeland security from a United States perspective, but I’m also interested in the views of Israel, Egypt or Germany and England on homeland security."

The workshop also offered the opportunity to broaden contacts with subject matter experts and other academics, Logan added.

Heather Hilliard, an adjunct faculty member at Tulane University, said she benefited from discussions about homeland security intelligence.

"I don’t have an intelligence background," said Hilliard, who is also the program monitor for bio-terrorism with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. "My job is to deal with what happens after a suicide bomber hits. The workshop was very helpful."

In addition to course content, Center faculty also discussed the techniques they utilize when teaching.

"Rather than just focus on content area, I asked each instructor to talk about how they teach that subject, and the methodologies that are appropriate to that subject," Supinski said.

Samuel Morgan, a professor of criminal justice at Central Pennsylvania College, said the workshop offered an opportunity to learn from professional practitioners who are also academics. He added that his school’s relationship with the UAPI program has helped it develop a better homeland security curriculum.

"If I didn’t have these resources, I wouldn’t feel comfortable going back going back to my college and teaching homeland security," Morgan said.

Attendees were drawn from the 211 partners in the UAPI program, and were limited to people who would be teaching classes in homeland security this academic year, rather than administrators.

The UAPI program typically hosts a couple of partnership workshops per year. This was the first workshop focused on faculty development and Supinski envisions this effort will continue on an annual basis.