A blending of national and homeland security studies, including intersections and divergences, helps frame the “wicked problems” being seen on the domestic and international fronts. Data analysis is critical to addressing complex challenges such as school and mass shootings and border security, particularly with the level of “noise” throughout social media and our nation’s polarized politics. There is an emerging consensus that traditional security studies must include more national, homeland, and other underrepresented security areas. And, areas of theory and practice will be driven in the future by PhD programs in the field of “integrated security.”
Those are some of the key takeaways from the 15th annual Homeland Defense and Security Education Summit hosted by the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s University and Agency Partnership Program Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, CA.
Entitled “The Growing Convergence of Homeland and National Security: Educating Future Leaders to Understand Evolving Threats,” the three-day summit was held almost entirely in-person for the first time since 2019, and featured an impressive roster of top federal, state, and local agency officials and university representatives, in a series of discussions, research panel sessions, and presentation sessions.
The annual event was held in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In all, 90 participants attended the event in-person or virtually.
After opening comments from CHDS UAPP Director Steve Recca, FEMA National Training and Education Division Director Charlotte Porter kicked off the summit with CHDS Director Glen Woodbury and NPS Pres. Vice Admiral (Ret.) Ann Rondeau with Porter noting it was her first UAPP summit.
During her remarks, Porter offered an overview of FEMA’s educational programs, which includes CHDS programs, and noted the agency’s main themes including equity, climate change, and workforce development.
And in his welcome comments, Woodbury noted that in its early days homeland security focused inward while national security focused outward, but events like the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, the Y2K scare, and the 9/11 attacks increasingly blurred the lines between the two areas. He noted that during the Obama Administration the two were acknowledged as interconnected and virtually indistinguishable, and in the last six years or so had increasingly merged as a result of a range of domestic threats from election security to cybersecurity involving state-based and non-state actors, and criminal organizations.
During the summit’s keynote session with Woodbury and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Belfer Center senior lecturer and Homeland Security and Global Health Projects faculty chair Juliette Kayyem, who appeared via Zoom, the discussion ranged from election security and violence in politics to recurring natural disasters, including preparedness and resilience, and COVID-19 health inequities.
As for the convergence of homeland and national security, the former DHS Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs noted that her boss, then-DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano, was not in the White House Situation Room when Osama Bin Laden was killed during a U.S. raid in Pakistan, and that it had taken her four years at the Belfer Center to get people to recognize the connection between homeland and national security.
Later in the morning, Recca and Emergency Management Institute Superintendent Jeff Stern, who also appeared via Zoom, led a discussion on the theme, “Leveraging Education and Training to Prepare for Security Threats.” Stern offered a historical look at the emergency management field, and argued that at its “core” there is no separation between emergency management and homeland and national security, as well as disaster sciences and resilience. “They can’t be separate,” he said. “They need to interact and be related.”
In the afternoon of the summit’s first day, several research panel sessions were held under the subject titles of “Innovation in Homeland Security Practice and Education I and II,” and “New/Evolving Domestic and Foreign Threats,” with presentations ranging from the role of extracurricular activities in support of homeland security education, the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in educating the next generation, short study abroad programs, and shaping an inclusive future by incorporating vulnerable populations into homeland security curricula, to proactive student threat assessment techniques for improved school safety, the most vulnerable time for America is during a tragedy, and identification and forecasting of emerging cyber-social threats.
Day 2 of the summit began with a series of presentations including “School and Mass Shootings: Homeland Security’s Role,” featuring Northeastern University’s James Alan Fox discussing school and mass shooting statistics and misconceptions, along with CHDS Subject Matter Experts Sarah Peck, who discussed her Mass Shooting Protocol and Playbook for City Mayors, and Eileen Decker, who spoke about her experience with mass shootings at LAX and San Bernardino.
Later in the morning, former CIA officer and journalist Alex Finley regaled summit attendees with tales of writing satirical spy novels and exposing Russian oligarchs’ yachts at #YachtWatch, as well as her thoughts about the U.S. and politics as an expatriate living in Spain, and the efficiencies and challenges of CIA operations, in a presentation entitled, “Intersection of Media & Intelligence.”
And in a presentation entitled, “Homeland Security 2022 – Border(less) Threats,” former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner and U.S. Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar offered a bracing view on everything from the recent, unprecedented wave of illegal border crossings of migrants, drugs and terrorists to the family separation policy, the overwhelmed border patrol system, and the need to revisit the asylum process and finally achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
In addition, on Day 2, the Third Annual David McIntyre Award was presented by last year’s winner St. John’s University’s Keith Cozine to U.S. War College Center for Strategic Leadership and Development Homeland Defense and Security Issues Group Director Bert Tussing for “significant contribution to homeland defense.”
In a surprise presentation, the UAPP board also presented Recca with the 2022 Educators Award featuring a naval sextant.
The afternoon of the summit’s second day included more research panel sessions under the headings of “Homeland Security Beyond U.S. Borders,” including a presentation on “Displaced Populations: The Implications of War, Persecution, Policy and Practice,” with Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s David Nitsch, and “Risk Considerations in a Multi-Hazard, Multi-Threat Environment,” including “Unpacking the 2021 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change Implications for the U.S. Homeland Security Enterprise” with Monmouth University’s John Comiskey.
Day 3 began with presentation sessions on “COVID-19 Impacts and Issues Entering: Year 3” including a presentation on Long Covid by North Carolina Central University’s William Pilkington, and “Navigating Change and Complexity in Non-Traditional Threats” including “Communicating Risk: Lessons Learned from Cybersecurity and the COVID-19 Pandemic” from University of New Hampshire’s Maeve Dion, as well as presentations under the headings of “Emerging Biological/Pathogen Threats: Health & Human Services Security and Assistance Program” and “Maturing Homeland Security and Emergency Management Education.”
The afternoon sessions included presentations on the “Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab,” “Opportunities for University and College Students to Participate in the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center’s Outreach Partnership Program,” and “Accreditation for Homeland Security and Emergency Management Education.”
A workshop entitled “What is Humanistic STEM and Why Do We Need It?” by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Debra Bourdeau capped off the summit.