Prompted in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the decade-old Center for Homeland Defense and Security Self-Study program has undergone a major expansion, exponentially increasing the number and scope of the courses available.
CHDS self-study program lead Lauren Fernandez, who took over the free online program in the fall of 2020, said the expansion is a major step forward for the program. In all, she said there will be more than 40 new courses available.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, we took it as an opportunity to enhance our course offerings and expand our audience,” she said. “Producing virtual classes could be done by subject matter experts at home, and many were becoming much more comfortable with teaching in an online environment. Our goal was to design the program to help shape the future of homeland security through education. In a practical sense, this means providing information on current and emerging topics that can be useful for professionals in their existing positions and ones that want to grow into. It also means engaging students working both individually or as part of a university class to better understand evolving homeland security challenges and opportunities. It is a fantastic way for any lifelong learner to expand their aperture.”
Fernandez said most of the new course offerings “focus on specific threats or systems,” while others are “designed to enhance skills such as research, writing for publication, and leadership.” She said the goal was to add courses that “would provide knowledge on topics of interest and would contribute to conversations across disciplines about the future of homeland security”.
The courses were designed by CHDS faculty, alumni, UAPP instructors, and other subject matter experts. A CHDS information technology team, led by Eric Hinote, transformed the content into their online format. Below are thoughts of several self-study creators on their courses, and the challenges and opportunities associated with online learning.
CHDS instructor Paul Smith created the course “Use of Intelligence in the Battle Against Terrorism in the United States.” Smith said his course is designed to instruct U.S. police department commanders, their police officers assigned to both patrol and investigative functions, and their analysts – who he said are now on the frontline of counter-terrorism due to rising levels of crime, and increases in international and domestic terrorism threats – on how to “aggressively collect and use actionable intelligence.”
CHDS Masters and Executive Leaders Program alum William Pilkington developed “Public Health: Surveillance and Intelligence” and “Pandemics: The Ultimate Health Test”. Pilkington said his public health courses are among three new courses on the subject “addressing important issues associated with infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics,” which he said “fill a gap and provide an important knowledge base for anyone seeking to learn more about public health, one of the key components of our public health infrastructure,” noting that the CHDS Master’s Program has no public health courses.
CHDS instructor Lynda Peters’ “Quarantine Authority” course is a two-parter aimed at providing a basic understanding of the medical concepts of quarantine and isolation, the different legal authorities that exist at the federal and state levels of government to address a public health emergency and how they can be used, the constitutional limits on those legal authorities, and how the judiciary has reviewed exercises of power by the executive branch using a science-based decision-making model.
Peters said the CHDS self-study course catalogue expansion “translates into a unique opportunity to learn about a wide variety of homeland security issues, past and present. Each topic is explored through the lens of a subject matter expert who makes specialized knowledge accessible outside the classroom for everyone from the seasoned practitioner to student.”
She also noted the effort to develop more self-study course topics, which she said made “periodic return trips to the course site well worth it.”
CHDS Master’s alum Stephanie Blum’s “Constitutional Law and Homeland Security” looks at topics that are “significant and in the news” including: federalism and the pandemic; profiling under equal protection and the Fourth Amendment; and domestic versus foreign terrorism under the material support of terrorism statutes.
“In a world where more learning is occurring remotely and asynchronously, CHDS is a leader in bringing relevant and timely online classes to homeland security practitioners,” Blum said.
Subject matter expert Philip Palin’s course “Supply Chain Resilience,” provides learners with a “conceptual framing of supply chain behavior, risk, sources of resilience, and one method for self-assessing the risk and resilience of regional demand and supply networks.”
Palin, who participated in a CHDS Executive Education Program webinar on Nov. 16, said a “self-study course can speed the learning process by focusing on principles or processes or best practices that others have discovered are especially meaningful,” and he “tried to distill many years of experience and self-reflection into a two-hour overview” that if effective “the return on investment begins to bend exponentially.”
Palin continues, “What self-study does not always provide is peer feedback. This is a concern because peer feedback is typically how humans decide what is meaningful and not. The CHDS self-study courses are, however, expected to most often be used by adult learners who are already involved with other learners. The online self-study format is very easy access. Listening to (or reading) five modules for about twenty minutes each is not a huge lift. As a result, peers who matter most to each other can learn together. Both formal learning environments and the various informal relationships spawned by these environments can provide plenty of opportunities for conversation — online and offline — that will confirm, deny, or clarify the meaning to be derived from the Supply Chain Resilience self-study course.”
Subject matter expert Eric McNulty is leading the development of the course “Meta-Leadership: An Introduction” in partnership with Harvard University’s Preparedness Leadership Initiative. He said participants will become familiar with the “three dimensions of meta-leadership practice” and how those can help them lead through the “complex, fast-evolving incidents of crisis and change,” and is “grounded in real-world examples” and explore practical concepts and tools.
He said homeland security education “needs to keep pace with advances in the understanding of adult leaders, and that includes utilizing technology to ‘meet them where they are. Self-study offers both challenges and opportunities. The challenges are the limitations of interactive learning with instructors and other participants. The opportunities, however, are to reach a far greater number of learners and to pique their interest to explore more. Leadership is a critical skill for homeland security professionals at all levels–knowing how to ‘lead from where they are.’ The earlier in a person’s career trajectory that this mindset and skillset can be initiated, the better. We hope that this course helps in this regard.”
CHDS Instructor Nadav Morag said his course entitled “Middle East Primer” is designed to provide homeland security professionals and students of homeland security with a primer that provides context, both historically and in terms of contemporary issues, on the Middle East. This region has figured prominently in both the homeland security and national security realms as it was, and is, a central area of operations for terrorist threats represented by Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Hezbollah as well as an area of critical importance in terms of global energy supply. The course will explore the background and current status of the region, its conflicts, its ideologies, and its impact on the United States and its allies in the recent past and its likelihood to impact the U.S. and its allies in the future.
Participants can take a course at their own pace. A record of completion can be printed at the end which is used by some organizations for continuing education credits. The courses are also designed for students to be able to dip their toes into modules of interest, rather than completing a course sequentially. Homeland security instructors are welcome to use the self-study courses as part of their curriculum. For example, in a flipped learning environment, a student could take the Supply Chain Resilience course and then participate in a case study run in-person by their instructor.
Some courses are video-based with a voice-over, while others more closely resemble a textbook that can be read or even listened to during a commute, and some are hybrids. The plan is to incorporate more “interactive functionality” over time, according to Fernandez. “We are also interested in how we can make materials useful to other educational programs.”
Access to the courses is granted to local, tribal, state and federal U.S. government officials, members of the U.S. military, corporate homeland security managers or contractors, homeland security researchers or educators, and students currently enrolled in homeland security degree programs.
New CHDS Self-Study Courses:
- 9/11 Attacks: A Retrospective and the Federal Response
- Adversarial Nation-State Cyber Operations
- Border Security and Management
- Building a Public Health System for the 21st Century
- Climate Change and Homeland Security
- Cognition and Information
- Comparative Homeland Security Approaches
- Constitutional Law and Homeland Security
- Counterterrorism in the United Kingdom
- Current Research in Homeland Security
- Cybersecurity: An Introduction
- Deception Detection Techniques
- Emerging Technologies: Scientific Advances and their Influence on Homeland Security
- Global Jihadi Threat
- Globalization and Homeland Security
- History of Homeland Security
- Homeland Security in Israel
- Human Trafficking and the Homeland Security Enterprise – Intro
- Human Trafficking and the Homeland Security Enterprise – Practitioner
- Intelligence for Homeland Security: Organizational and Policy Challenges
- Meta-Leadership: An Introduction
- Middle East Primer
- Pandemics: The Ultimate Public Health Test
- Private Public Partnerships
- Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response
- Public Health: Surveillance and Intelligence
- Quarantine Authority
- Realizing Resilience
- Research Process and Methods
- Social Network Analysis
- Sociology of Public Policy
- Supply Chain Resilience
- Systems Thinking
- Technology Impact on the 4th Amendment
- Terrorist Financing and State Response
- Threat from Nation States
- Transportation Security
- Understanding Terrorism: A Social Science View on Terrorism
- Use of Intelligence in the Battle Against Terrorism in the United States
- Writing for Publication