Shaping the Future: Highlights from the 16th Annual Homeland Defense/Security Education Summit

The Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) held its 16th Annual Homeland Defense/Security Education Summit virtually on Nov 1-2, 2023. This annual event acts as a nexus between academia, government, and industry leaders interested in the progress and future of homeland defense and security education.

UAPP Director Steve Recca

Reflecting on the Summit, Steve Recca, Director of the University and Agency Partnership Program (UAPP) at CHDS, emphasized the criticality of the event, saying that the 16th Annual Summit “really came at a crucial time for homeland security educators. The theme of this year’s event, ‘Homeland Defense and Security Education at a Crossroads – Innovating for Enduring Value,’ gets to the essence of the absolute need for agile, dynamic education and research practice to meet the wicked security problems we face, and likely will continue to face into the future.

“The broad and deep experience of our plenary speakers and the rich expertise demonstrated in the research panel discussions proved both timely and particularly cogent to help us mature the homeland security education environment.” 

From top: CHDS Interim Director Jodi Stiles and (T) Patrick Cowhey

The two-day event was split into several sessions, each designed to provide attendees with a broad and nuanced overview of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in homeland defense and security education.  

After introductions by Recca, the event opened with welcome remarks by Jodi Stiles, Interim Director of CHDS, and Patrick Cowhey, Director National Training and Education Division. Former Director of CIA Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier and CHDS faculty David Brannan followed with the keynote session titled “Terror Attacks in Israel: Homeland Security Implications.”

The day proceeded with engaging plenary panels discussing academia’s role in the future of defense and security. The first panel, “Translating Past Experience to Future Defense/Security: Academia’s Role,” featured security professionals Tim Manning, former Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness, FEMA; William Seymour, former Deputy Commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command; Linda Urrutia-Varhall, Former Director of Intelligence, U.S. Southern Command; and Jeffrey Burkett, Former Deputy Director, Joint Staff J-7 & Vice Director, National Guard Bureau, J-3.

Bert Tussing, U.S. Army War College and third recipient of the David McIntyre award, presented the Fourth Annual David McIntyre Award for Excellence in Homeland Security Education to Meghan McPherson, Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California Emergency Management Graduate Program.

McPherson shared her thoughts on the importance of the UAPP Summit, praising the event for “consistently focusing on topical, relevant, and essential subjects in homeland security education.” McPherson went on to add that the annual Summit is “an opportunity to have engaging conversations with colleagues from across the country, and this year did not disappoint!”

The afternoon sessions featured research panel discussions where pressing topics like domestic and international threats, and novel approaches to curriculum design were debated. The first panel, titled “Should Homeland Security Studies Survive?”, led by Erik Dahl and James Ramsay, placed a critical lens on the resilience and adaptability of the discipline facing contemporary security challenges. “Adding Education as an Instrument of Power” followed, where educators like Tobias Gibson, James Baker, and Maria Cudowska proposed transformative applications of academia.  

The emphasis then shifted towards a crucial nexus point in our security landscape within the session “Homeland Security and Emergency Management Nexus,” during which Keith Cozine shed light on the Mass Migrant Crisis while Daryl Schaffer and John Pennington delved into post-storm mitigation efforts in underserved communities.  

“The 16th Annual Summit really came at a crucial time for homeland security educators. This year’s event … gets to the essence of the absolute need for agile, dynamic education and research practice to meet the wicked security problems we face, and likely will continue to face into the future.”

Steve Recca, UAPP Director, CHDS

Various threats, current and prospective, were put under the microscope during the next session, where panelists Tobias Gibson and Maria Cudowska took the “stage” again, this time with Kelli Perrin, to expand on the scope of climate threats; John Comiskey highlighted the “wicked” problem of terrorism; and Russel Lundberg underscored the importance of mental health considerations in threat analysis. 

From top: Tim Manning and Kathleen Fox

As the day concluded, the discussions turned towards homeland security curriculum design. The final two panels, “Intelligence Curricula Design for Baccalaureate Degree Programs” with Brian Harte and Charles Russo, and “At a Common Crossroads: The Methodological Overlap Between Practitioner-Scholars in the Fields of Rhetoric & Homeland Security/Homeland Defense Education” with Meghan Dunn, addressed innovations and overlap in homeland security education.

To wrap up a productive day of intellectual exchange, Recca commended the resilience and commitment of the community to adapt and innovate within the evolving homeland security education landscape.

On the Day 2, the Summit began early with a special session titled “Infrastructure Protection and Risk Management: Lessons learned from the Turkey 2023 Earthquake,” with John Fisher, Muhaedin Bela, and Zijavere Keqmezi providing their valuable perspectives. 

The main proceedings started with a recap of the previous day and moved on to two plenary panels. The first, “The Future of Homeland Security and the Role of Higher Education,” featured industry veterans Glen Woodbury, former CHDS Director; Kathleen Fox, Assistant Vice President (Resilience), George Washington University, and Tim Manning, former Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness, FEMA.

Clockwise from top left: Lynda Peters, James Ramsay, Erik Dahl, and Meghan McPherson

The second plenary panel, “Does Homeland Security Education Have a Future?”, brought together panelists Erik Dahl and Lynda Peters from CHDS, Meghan McPherson from the University of Southern California, and James Ramsay, the Head of Department for Security Studies and Criminology at Macquarie University.

Both plenary panels unpacked strategic prospects and responded to existential questions around homeland security education’s future, and cemented the relevance of academic contributions to the constantly evolving field of national security.

During the first research session of Day 2, attendees had the privilege of hearing from Rosemary McDonnell and Vermecia Alsop on the importance of community-based learning in infrastructure protection and risk management during their panel, “Issues and Innovation in Homeland Security Education.”

Christopher Cleary was next with a compelling dialogue on the development of HLS curricula to reduce school shootings, followed by Cihan Aydiner, Tanya Corbin, Iuliia Hoban, and Ibrahim Kocaman from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with insights into leveraging AI for enhanced mentorship in security studies.  

Next, in Session 2, Svea Erlandson cast light on the creative methods used by the Wisconsin National Guard to teach partners about homeland defense, and Carolyn Larsen and Carly Kuhtz led a discussion addressing climate inequity and displacement from coastal flooding within the emergency management landscape. 

From top: Robert Grenier and David Brannan

Session 3 bridged current and prospective threats with Arthur Simental, Richard White, and Johan Holst tackling the subject of “21st Century Homeland Defense & Civil Defense,” shedding light on the changing face of threats to our nation. Likewise, Dr. Robert Ditch’s perspective on higher education programs in homeland security potentially aiding the propagation of threats against the nation encouraged critical thinking about how we approach homeland security education.

The final session of the day tackled less conventional threats. Yoku Shaw-Taylor explored the domestic threat to border security posed by institutional inertia and administrative volatility, while Kore Redden outlined how voting and elections integrity has become a new domestic threat.  

This year’s Summit provided our national homeland security community with many relevant and timely perspectives. If you are interested in becoming more involved with CHDS, please check out all of our Academic Programs, and don’t miss our upcoming deadline: Dec. 1, 2023, for applications to the Master’s Degree Program and Emergence Program. These programs offer the exceptional opportunity to contribute towards shaping the future of homeland security education and effecting a tangible impact on our homeland’s collective security.  

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

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