UAPI Semi-annual Conference Held at CHDS

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The growth rate of colleges and universities offering homeland security programs may be slowing, but interest remains healthy in the still-new academic discipline.

That was evident during the Semi-Annual Conference of the University and Agency Partnership Initiative (UAPI) held Oct. 12-13 at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

Thirty-one new UAPI members representing 24 institutions gathered in Watkins Hall for the event that seeks to build a quality homeland security educational curriculum based on the CHDS model.

"The attendance shows the expansion is slowing down, but it is definitely continuing," said UAPI Director Stan Supinski.

UAPI was created in 2005 as a way to share expertise of the CHDS in exporting homeland security to campuses and agencies across the country. Some 220 schools and agencies have joined the initiative since its inception.

Albert Vasquez, Dean of Campus Security/Student Health and Safety, Santa Monica Community College was one of the attendees. In addition to gathering information for a program at that college, Vasquez was also working on behalf of California State University Council of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

The Council is developing a program that would educate people in homeland security at the community college level, preparing them for careers while also offering the opportunity to transfer to state university and major in the field.

"What we are trying to do is develop a program that incorporates all levels of education in the development of students for the homeland security field," Vasquez said.

Vasquez was particularly interested in learning how security topics are taught in a community college setting, he added.

"It’s the first time all the schools are working together on the entire discipline," Vasquez said.

Also attending was Eduardo Ortiz, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Puerto Rico University, the most distant institution represented at the two-day conference.

"Homeland security is growing (in Puerto Rico), not necessarily because of terrorism," Ortiz said. "The main reason is for natural disasters. That is our main concern."

Puerto Rico is prone to tropical storms, which impact water and electricity supplies.

"The understanding of homeland security will help us prepare better. Storms are something we know are going to happen," Ortiz noted.

Attendees were oriented to CHDS’ offerings, including the Homeland Security Digital Library, self-study courses, Moodle, the features of Dystopia, as well as a detailed look at the curriculum. Additionally, they participated in a workshop on teaching an introductory course in homeland security and how to tailor such a course to the needs of their institutions, students, and other constituents.

The conference was held just weeks before 30 UAPI partners will gather in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the inaugural Continental Security Conference slated for Dec. 7-8. That conference will be the first to include participants from Mexico and Canada.

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