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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Online program offers diverse security education

 
 

With a growing demand for professionals in the field of homeland security, Texas A&M is preparing the current and future workforce to defend the safety of America.
After the Homeland Security agency was founded in 2004 in response to the 9/11 attacks, academic institutions were provided with a new task: preparing a workforce for this new field.
Lisa Brown, acting director of the Extended Education program, said the Bush School began offering courses in Homeland Security in 2004.
The next year, the Bush School offered the ability to earn a Certificate in Homeland Security completely online. To be eligible, students must have earned at least a Bachelor’s degree. The program consists of one required course in the Fundamentals of Homeland Security and four electives of their choice for a total of 15 credit hours.
“After 9/11 took place, people were looking at how to protect America and her citizens,” Brown said. “The government took at more in-depth look at where we needed to improve to protect people. Schools realized that people needed to be educated on how to prepare for this field.”
Danny Davis, lecturer and director of the CHLS program, said the program courses were offered online because of limited physical space and increased flexibility.
“Classroom space is big reason for all courses being online,” Davis said. “We didn’t have space at the Bush School for all the classes. Most of the students are middle to upper class working professionals and are working during work hours. The online classes provide flexibility to work and do schoolwork.”
The online set-up of the program not only allows students with full-time jobs the ability to participate in the program, but also invites the best in the industry to instruct the courses whether they are full-time professors at another prestigious university, full-time professionals in the field, or even professors at Texas A&M.
“Our professors are scattered all over the country – the best experts in homeland security in the field and the best professors around the country, and one or two resident professors,” Brown said. “Every class, I learn from my students because [many of them are] professionals in their fields.”
Dan O’Brien, a current student of the CHLS program and Director of Safety and Environmental Health at the San Antonio Water Department, said the professors that have the opportunity to instruct the course because of the online set-up of the program provides increased opportunities and an expanded knowledge base.
“The professors are what make this program so great,” O’Brien said. “They are seasoned industry leaders with deep and diverse experience coupled with exceptional teaching skills. They keep the class participation active, timely and educational.”
The students that participate in the program are also from varied locations and backgrounds, and O’Brien said this allows for diversity not found in a traditional classroom.
“By being online, classes have students that are specialists in their field from all over the country, if not the world,” O’Brien said. “So the depth of knowledge and experience in the class composite is exceptional and could not be duplicated in a classroom setting.”
The courses offered cover any area that may be included in homeland security including terrorism, cyber security, policies, strategies, issues and research methods for homeland security at the federal, state and local levels.
“It’s a challenge keeping courses updated. Homeland security is not like history,” Davis said. “Things are changing constantly. New policies are developed by the federal government. We constantly have to pay attention and stay up to date.”
O’Brien said homeland security professionals consider A&M to be a leader in the field, and the certificate would help his future plans.
“I found the Bush School after comparing similar programs across the country,” he said. “A&M has one of the most respected programs in the country.”
Brown said the Homeland Security workforce currently contains over 200,000 workers, and the Bush School’s CHLS is providing education for members of this ever-increasing field.
“It’s exciting to see that [the program is] growing,” Brown said. “We hope to see continued growth. What sets our program apart from the others is the quality of the professors as well as the content. We have a director that ensures that the content is fresh and relevant. The field of Homeland Security is growing and will continue to do so.”
O’Brien had only positive comments on the program, but did say he wished it offered a higher degree option.
“My single disappointment is that it is only a certificate program,” he said. “With the history of A&M, the mission of the Bush School and the commitment to our military, A&M should have a full master’s program. I already have one master’s, but I would love to continue taking homeland security classes toward a master’s program.”

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