April 22, 2005
One way to stop terrorism is to teach more people about how terrorists think and how they operate.
To achieve that goal, the University of Connecticut plans to be the first school in the country to offer a master’s degree in homeland security based on a curriculum written by the Naval Postgraduate School.
UConn’s two-year, 36-credit online program, which needs approval from the state Board of Higher Education, plans to offer a range of courses from bioterrorism to the philosophy of terrorism. http://news.newstimeslive.com/admanager/adlog.php?bannerid=381&clientid=710612&zoneid=72&source=Local-Page2&block=0&capping=0&cb=5b5c56b252bdb7ae98afda51a8c8a114
To start, UConn plans to accept 25 to 30 students with bachelor’s degrees who come from fields most in need of the training, like public health, transportation, city or state government agencies, and fire and police officials.
“This is a tremendous resource in homeland security for the workers in the field in Connecticut,” said Danbury Police Sgt. Matt McNally, the department’s homeland security officer. “I think it’s a great idea.”
He called homeland security the 21st century’s version of community policing. Money once spent to put police on bicycles in the neighborhoods now is dedicated to homeland security.
“A program like this is so leaders can make informed decisions and pass their knowledge down through the ranks,” McNally said.
Roy Pietro, executive director of UConn’s Homeland Security Center, said the new program is “pretty exciting.”
“It’s becoming a sophisticated business with so much technology,” Pietro said. “Not only public but private sectors are concerned. It covers the range from ports and cyber terrorism to trains. It’s one of the fastest-growing academic fields in the country.”
The Office of Domestic Preparedness charged the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., with developing training programs for regional and state homeland security workers.
“It’s geared toward the homeland security leadership at the state and local level,” said David O’Keefe, chief executive officer and department chair for the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School.
Specific training is needed now for those who land on the front line.
“Homeland security is a new discipline,” O’Keefe said. "We need to provide current and future leaders with tools to develop policies, strategies and organizational designs that evolve from the homeland security requirements."
Not only is the course work important, but the act of bringing together the workers in these fields for discussions is useful.
“It brings people together from different backgrounds. They see how to come together and share information in a well-coordinated way so they can learn about the different pieces and bring them together,” O’Keefe said. “Ultimately in 10 to 20 years, this will be normal professional track.”
The core of UConn’s program will include the Naval Postgraduate courses, its digital library and scenario-based exercises conducted in a detailed, fully built city in cyberspace. In addition, the UConn faculty will customize the courses based on student needs and the professions of the students.
Three years ago, UConn’s College of Continuing Studies started developing relationships with state, local and federal homeland security leaders. It developed and delivered a leadership program for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and a bioterrorism leadership class for public health offices.
It collaborated with the Connecticut Homeland Security Education Center and Connecticut Department of Public Safety to train First Responders and senior leaders in homeland security preparedness. It oversaw the recent TOPOFF 3 terrorism exercise program, the largest counter-terrorism exercise in North America.
McNally said the U.S. has been more reactive than proactive up to this point. UConn’s program will help officers and public officials think about how to protect the people and infrastructure within the country’s civil rights.
“It’s a balancing act,” McNally said, “because we enjoy liberties that other countries don’t enjoy.”
Contact Eileen FitzGerald at email@example.com or (203) 731-3333