CHDS Education Summit focuses on turning challenges into opportunities

Homeland security education needs to be flexible and adaptable to keep up with a rapidly evolving security environment, while also taking an integrated approach to homeland security, emergency management and national security, particularly where they merge.

Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano (above) speaks with CHDS director Glen Woodbury during the Education Summit.

Those were among the top themes emerging from discussions between Center for Homeland Defense and Security director Glen Woodbury and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Emergency Management Institute Superintendent Jeff Stern during the 14th Annual Homeland Defense and Security Education Summit held Nov. 1-3 in Monterey, CA.

“There is a need to take an integrated educational and training approach to increasingly complex issues ranging across the national security, homeland security and emergency management domains with special attention to where they overlap each other,” Woodbury said. “Additionally, the connectedness among research, education, and training efforts in homeland security and emergency management should be more deliberate; perhaps along the lines that FEMA is initiating with its regional and preparedness offices including the Emergency Management Institute, Higher Education Program and National Training and Education Division.”

Woodbury’s discussion with Napolitano, the former Arizona Governor and University of California Chancellor who currently serves as director of the Center for Security in Politics, served as the keynote plenary session for Day 1 of the three-day event.

Emergency Management Institute Superintendent Jeff Stern (below) speaks with CHDS director Glen Woodbury.

Napolitano pointed out the need to recognize that homeland security and risk factors are constantly evolving, noting the emergence of climate change-related threats, cybersecurity and emerging technology challenges, and threats to democracy from social media and mis- and dis-information.

Woodbury argued that existing “legacy” policies often don’t keep up with the technology, but homeland security education must do so.

And Napolitano said homeland security officials and educators “can’t afford to be static,” and must be constantly looking ahead to what might threaten life and serious property damage.

Meanwhile, on Day 2 of the summit, Woodbury and Stern argued for an integrated approach to educating and training a competent workforce in the effort to address complex issues, including readiness to confront both domestic and national challenges.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency deputy director Nitin Natarajan (right) and CHDS faculty Eileen Decker.

The hybrid event, which was entitled “Educating Future Homeland Security Leaders During an Era of Uncertainty: Turning Challenges Into Opportunities,” and was held largely online with a separate in-person component, and included a range of special discussions, plenary and research sessions, and more, featuring CHDS alumni and faculty, along with other homeland security and emergency management officials and subject matter experts.

In addition to the online summit sessions, the event included a series of in-person Curriculum and Faculty Development sessions at the Monterey Conference Center over the same three-day period.

Hosted by CHDS, the event was held in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The event followed an entirely online event at last year’s summit, and organizers expressed the hope that next year’s event would be able to welcome more participants back to Monterey.

Naval Postgraduate School president Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau (retired) (right) with UAPP director Steve Recca.

Day 1 of the summit kicked off with opening comments from University & Agency Partnership Program director Steve Recca, followed by welcome remarks from Woodbury, FEMA deputy assistant administrator Scott Kelberg, and Naval Postgraduate School president Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau (retired).

A Special Session entitled “Advancing Homeland Security Theory: An Interdisciplinary Approach” featured CHDS Academic Programs director Christopher Bellavita with panelists Alan Bersin, Woodrow Wilson Center, Canada and Mexico Institute; Chappell Lawson, MIT Center for International Studies; and Robert Griffin, Dean of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, University at Albany (SUNY).

A Leadership Discussion entitled “What the Past Tells Us About Securing the Future,” led by former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Bear McConnell was followed by a pair of research panels held in the afternoon.

Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Bear McConnell (right) with UAPP director Steve Recca.

Day 2 included a Discussion entitled “Issues in Cybersecurity” featured CHDS faculty Eileen Decker and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency deputy director Nitin Natarajan talking about the need to recruit a more robust and diverse workforce to deal more effectively and holistically with cybersecurity issues that are inundating nearly every aspect of homeland security, with Natarajan encouraging a wider range of prospective employees to consider his agency and urging, “We want you on the team.”

The second day of the event also saw St. John’s University assistant professor of Homeland Security Dr. Keith Cozine named as the Second Annual David McIntyre Award for Excellence in Homeland Security Education winner by last year’s inaugural award winners James Ramsay, University of New Hampshire, and CHDS faculty Stan Supinski.

The day concluded with four research panel sessions ranging from “Considerations in Emerging Technologies” to “Communicating Homeland Security for Gen Z (and the rest of us).”

CHDS Strategic Communications director Heather Issvoran speaks about the Center’s educational programs.

Day 3 consisted of a series of research presentations ranging from “Covid-19 and Beyond: Impacts on and Solutions for Higher Education,” which included New Jersey City University’s Meagan van Harte’s research entitled “Growing Mistrust of Public Health: How the Public is Becoming the Biggest Threat to Public Health Authority and Effectiveness,” to “Homeland Security, Defense, and Infrastructure Protection: Faultlines,” including George Mason University’s Robert McCreight and University of Maryland’s Cynthia Gavin on “Assessing the National Guard’s Role in Complex Energy Grid Collapse Scenarios.”

The curriculum and faculty development sessions included everything from panel discussions entitled “Advancing Homeland Security Theory” and “Building the (Homeland Security) Research Agenda” (which included talk of forming a homeland security education association) to sponsor and program updates including CHDS self-study program expansion, and DHS/FEMA education and community preparedness reports. The final day session also included discussions about efforts to develop a code of ethics and professional standards for Emergency Management FEMA, and updates on a range of homeland security and emergency management journals including the new Pracademic Affairs Journal that just published its inaugural issue in 2020.

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment |, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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