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Annual D.C. Summit Focuses on Educational Content

Article by Brian Seals, Photos by Phil Humnicky

Posted March 22, 2010

Michael Chertoff, former DHS SecretaryWhen the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) sponsored its first Homeland Security Education Summit, discussions hinged on how to establish education programs at colleges and universities.

Four years later, the talk is more about how to craft and improve educational content for the ever-changing homeland security discipline.

That was evidenced at this year’s fourth annual Homeland Security Education Summit sponsored by CHDS and the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium Association (HSDECA) Feb. 24-25 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

"It has grown from being program development to more of an emphasis on the content of homeland security," said Stan Supinski, director of the CHDS University and Agency Partnership (UAPI).

The numbers show that the discipline has grown: 227 people attended this year’s conference compared with 130 for the inaugural year.

The summit showed that there is growing teamwork among academic institutions and the federal government, said conference participant George Tanner, Chief Learning Officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That relationship is moving toward an accreditation body for the homeland security profession, similar to that of other professional groups.

"Having an accreditation body similar to those already in place for doctors, lawyers and accountants, would be a big step forward for those institutions of higher learning that are focusing on developing and teaching Homeland Defense and Homeland Security course materials to their students," Tanner said.

Speakers featured at this year’s summit included Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), current DHS Undersecretary Elaine Duke and Department of Defense Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense Paul Stockton.

Stockton addressed civil-military relations, a topic he broached earlier in the month at the CHDS Alumni Conference.

Chertoff discussed what academic elements are important to homeland security educational programs, which also echoed elements of the QHSR.Stan Supinski, Michael Chertoff, Glen Woodbury

Duke spoke on the DHS budget and the department’s workforce needs for more people in border security, the Coast Guard and in cyber-security. Those happened to be some of the themes that came out of the recently released, and much anticipated, Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR).

In addition to the speakers there were 32 breakout sessions at the two-day event.

"It was nice to have the department’s newest emphasis, which was portrayed in that QHSR, presented to our attendees," Supinski said. "That really supports our programs because it tells them what the department sees as being the most critical."

Chertoff stressed that homeland security curriculums need to teach management skills, intelligence gathering and analysis, risk management concepts, emergency planning and management, legal issues, technological issues and social psychology.

The theme of the conference was "Transition."

"It was transition because it’s the first full year of a new (presidential) administration - the first time since 9/11 that we have had a new administration," Supinski said. "We need to constantly transition and we need to constantly improve. That was the overall emphasis."

He expects that theme to continue in practice as the homeland security discipline continues to mature.

"I think the community has really recognized what a critical role it has in homeland security because it is preparing the professionals that are carrying out the mission," Supinski said.

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