University and Agency Partners convene for 12th annual Education Summit
When the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) was established in 2002, it was entrusted with the goal of solving homeland security issues and sharing the knowledge base with local, state, tribal, territorial, federal, and private sector partners. By sharing the information, CHDS is helping to bridge gaps across various agencies and organizations, creating a stronger homeland security enterprise. One of the main platforms for disseminating this knowledge is the University and Agency Partnership Program (UAPP). UAPP brings together academic institutions and learning centers to increase the number of students and practitioners receiving homeland security education, accelerate the growth of high-caliber academic programs, and provide opportunities for collaboration. UAPP is currently comprised of over 400 academic institutions that have access to CHDS curriculum, distance learning technology, Homeland Security Digital Library, and other critical resources. By providing access to these resources and shared knowledge, the participants create an intellectual multiplier effect that furthers the study of homeland security.
Each year, UAPP organizes national and regional events that encourage collaboration between homeland security practitioners and academia. The cornerstone of these events is the annual UAPP Education Summit. The Summit attracts program faculty and directors who want to refresh their curricula, enrich and grow their programs, integrate best practices, and engage in professional development. In the past, UAPP hosted the Education Summit at inspirational venues like George Mason University, Valencia College, and the University of Albany. This year, the Summit was hosted in Monterey, CA at the newly renovated Conference Center. Each day provided a range of opportunities to learn from roundtable discussions, research presentations, and moderated panels with subject matter experts from top-tier institutions like the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, the School of Professional Advancement at Tulane University, the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the U.S. Army War College, St. John’s University, Stanford School of Law, and of course, the Naval Postgraduate School and the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
“The 12th Annual Homeland Defense & Security Education Summit perhaps was the most timely ever,” according to UAPP Director Steve Recca. “This year’s themes around ‘public interest security’ – including information/disinformation campaigns and border issues – really struck a chord with the higher education and policy participants.” The theme Public Interest Security: Leveraging Education to Connect Policy and Operations with American Perspectives of Homeland Security produced a number of diverse discussion topics by focusing on two specific research presentation tracks: Border Issues and Technology and Influence Operations. To complement both tracks presentation topics, the three-day Summit also addressed pertinent sub-themes in the realm of evolving homeland security threats, critical infrastructure protection, emergency preparedness, and new approaches in homeland security education.
The first day was comprised of pre-summit meetings and general program updates. Attendees learned about ongoing accreditation processes from a few of the newer institutions. The program brief provided by Wendy Walsh on the FEMA National Training and Education System was very encouraging. Afterward, there was an author’s roundtable discussion moderated by Keith Logan of Kutztown University. Rowman and Littlefield Publishing House presented a session titled Book Publisher Insights: Getting Your Book Published. The hosted social was well attended and sponsored by Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and School of Professional Advancement at Tulane University.
Day two began with a warm introduction from Steve Recca and transitioned into welcoming remarks from CHDS Director Glen Woodbury, FEMA National Training and Education Director Scott Kelberg, and NPS President VADM Ann Rondeau. Afterward, the Honorable Thomas Modly, Undersecretary of the Navy, delivered a rousing keynote speech. Many of the sessions focused on topics related to the use of technology to influence operations. The three research panel sessions explored the intersection of disinformation and homeland security. “The challenges with ‘false news’ explained by our first panel illuminated a new range of threats,” Recca added. “These issues are exactly what our students – and future workforce – will need to tackle. A fundamental takeaway from the discussion with our panelists: the threat is real, it’s current, and the will likely grow with time and technology.”
Day three explored the relationship between homeland defense and border security. Glen Woodbury also shared some programmatic news about the newly rebranded UAPP name. It is changing from UAPI to UAPP. After 12 years of operation, the University and Agency Partnership is no longer an ‘initiative’ because it’s fully implemented, operational, and self-sustaining—thus the change from University and Agency Partnership Initiative to University and Agency Partnership Program. To set the stage for upcoming sessions on border security issues, Former Commissioner of US Customs and Border Patrol CBP Gil Kerlikowske discussed future challenges to border security. Advocating for proactive solutions, Kerlikowske suggested, “Just like the opioid epidemic, we can’t arrest our way out of the problem.”
Similar to day two, after the morning break there was a roundtable discussion on security challenges and opportunities with extremely insightful panelists, moderated by Alan Bersin, former CBP Commissioner. “We tend to think of border security in terms of actions at the border,” according to Recca. “Our accomplished international panel addressed the deeper complexities surrounding motivations of those that have nefarious purposes as well as those, however well-meaning, enhance the wicked problems we are seeing from Central America well into the US. These issues and the subsequent discussion will inform both policy and the classroom for years to come.”
After lunch break, there were three concurrent Border Security and Human Security Research Panel Sessions. Each session focused on a specific topic—ranging from Integrated Approaches to Border Security, to International Issues in Border Security and Emergency Management, to Innovative Security Approaches. At the same time, there were also two special topics sessions that examined the K-12 School Shooting Database and Community-based Security Initiatives in the Balkans, respectively. The final three panel sessions revolved around the topics of Homeland Defense, Emergency Management and the Border; Security Education and Research; and Implications of Climate Change and Environmental Security.