Seminar in Homeland Security
As one of the core, introductory course in the Homeland Security program, this course seeks to establish some history as to where we have come from and where we are going in the field of homeland security. The overall purpose of this class is to produce leaders from a variety of backgrounds who can effectively and efficiently identify, prevent, deter, defend against and respond to threats against the United States and its allies. This includes threats from terrorist organizations as well as other critical incidents and emergencies on the local, regional, national and international levels.
Keep in mind homeland security encompasses a grouping of diverse missions and functions that are performed by a wide variety of private, public and NGO sector organizations on the local, state, federal and international levels (this class focuses on the military, intelligence, criminal justice, and diplomatic perspectives). We will explore the early efforts against terror organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the current efforts against homegrown violent extremists, as well as the potential threat posed by non-nation states and cyber considerations. Finally, the course will examine how these threats are planned for and prevented at the local and federal levels and how different agencies work together to prevent and respond to terror insidents. Many of these topics and discussions will be pulled from current events. The course typically hosts guest speakers who are subject matter experts in their areas and provide real-world insight into what is happening in the world today.
There are many definitions of homeland security. For the purposes of this course, however, homeland security is defined as:
"The prevention, deterrence and preemption of, and defense against, external and internal threats and aggression targeted at U.S. territory, sovereignty, population, and infrastructure, as well as the management of the consequences of such threats and aggression and other domestic emergencies."
Homeland security as a discipline of study is broad, deep and rapidly evolving. Given our time allowances, what we will cover in this course are only a few examples of the many approaches one can take towards the study of homeland security (many of which are addressed in the Homeland Security Program's core courses and electives). Therefore, this class is in no way meant to be exhaustive. It is, however, meant to be intensive.
Because of the short amount of class time each week, there is a sizable reading load in this course. The readings (a combination of books, articles, and primary source documents) are intended to give the student a strong and broad background in current issues related to homeland security. In that spirit, the class discussions and written work in this course reflect real world approaches to real world problems in which the knowledge you gain through your readings, lectures and guest speakers can be applied.
By the end of the course you are expected to demonstrate six cognitive learning skills in the context of homeland security:
- Knowledge: Recall data or information.
- Comprehension: Understand the meaning, translation, interpolation, and interpretation of instructions and problems. State a problem in one's own words.
- Application: Use a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction. Applies what was learned in the classroom into novel situations in the work place.
- Analysis: Separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. Distinguishes between facts and inferences.
- Synthesis: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Put parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.
- Evaluation: Make judgments about the value of ideas or materials.
Course discussion and exams are designed to assess the ability of the student to demonstrate these cognitive learning skills.
Your course grade will break down as follows:
- Course Participation: 10 %
- Active participation in this class as well as throughout the HSEC program is critically important; this cannot be stressed enough. If you fall behind on readings you will not be prepared to participate in class which will adversely affect your grade.
- Group Presentation Project: 15%
- Each group will create a presentation utilizing Microsoft PowerPoint or a similar program. Assigned groups will have several weeks to prepare their presentations and each presentation will be no longer than 15 minutes.
- Essays: 75%
- You must complete five (5) short essays (500 words). The semester will be broken into four, three-week blocks and one question posted each week. For every block you can select one of the three provided questions for your essay. Each question will be associated with the reading for the respective week as well as the classroom discussion. All essays are due one week after they are posted on Blackboard.
- Total Grade: 1000 points
Point totals reflect the following grades:
- A: 1000-920 points
- A-: 919-900 points
- B+: 899-880 points
- B: 879-820 points
- B-: 819-800 points
- C+: 799-780 points
- C: 779-720 points
- C-: 719-700 points
- and so on....
In addition to keeping up with contemporary events pertaining to homeland security through news media and the internet, you are expected to read the following mandatory readings for the course. You are also expected to be able to provide intelligent answers to the questions posed by the professor on the day a given reading is due (see Tentative Course Schedule). Make sure that you complete your readings on time so you can get the most out of class, substantively contribute, and I can be a great reference for you when you apply for your dream job one day.
The course schedule is broken down into weekly required readings. Each week you are assigned a book and many supplementary readings (listed on this website).
All of the required books have been ordered through the Aztec Bookstore, though I found most of them used on online retail sites like Amazon or available for digital download via such services as Kindle, Google Books, and iBooks (digital downloads often being less expensive the the new hard/soft cover version of books).
The books required for the course vary by semester, but may be pulled from the following list:
- Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11(Vintage 2007)
- Neil Johnson, Simply Complexity: A Clear Guide to Complexity Theory (One World Publications, 2007)
Chs. 1-5; 8-10; 12
- Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations (Portfolio, 2006)
- Robert Kaplan, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power(Random House, 2010)
- Roger Barnett, Asymmetrical Warfare: Today's Challenge to U.S. Military Power(Dulles, VA: Brassey's, 2003)
- Gérard Chaliand and Arnaud Blin, The History of Terrorism: From Antiquity to Al Qaeda(California, 2007)
- James Gleeson, Bloody Sunday: How Michael Collins's Agents Assassinated Britain's Secret Service in Dublin on November 21, 1920(Lyon's Press, 2004)
- Mark E. Stout, et.al., The Terrorist Perspectives Project: Strategic and Operational Views of Al Qaida and Associated Movements(Naval Institute Press, 2008)
- Philip Carl Salzman, Conflict and Culture in the Middle East(Humanity Books, 2008)
- Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History(Yale, 2007)
- Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future(Norton, 2007)
- Ian Buruma & Avishai Margalit, Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies(Penguin, 2004)
- Mary Haybeck, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror(Yale, 2007)
- Jim Lacey (ed.), The Canons of Jihad: Terrorists' Strategy for Defeating America(Naval Institute Press, 2008)
- Ian Johnson, A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Muslim Brotherhood in the West(Houghton Miflin Harcourt, 2010)
- Paul Berman, The Flight of the Intellectuals (Melville House, 2010)
As you will see, there is a considerable reading load in this course. Graduate school is intended as an experience where you are immersed in a fairly narrow body of literature (however, given the interdisciplinary nature of homeland security, our literature is quite broad and deep). The main reason for being immersed is NOT to master content, but gain exposure to content, style and method.
As you attempt to read entire books, reports and articles you will make strategic choices about what you choose to read deeply, what to skim, what to skip altogether. Your choices will be lead by your interests, and that is how it should be. No matter what your individual interests, however, what you ALL should be able to do is outline the author's argument and identify their theoretical perspective and use of data. Ask yourselves these questions when you read your readings:
- What is the author stating in the book (the thesis)?
- Why is their thesis important (significance)?
- What is its place in the relevant literature (lit review)?
- How does the author construct their argument (method)?
- What types of sources (data) does the author use? Why?
- What evidence or proof or reasoning do they offer in support of their argument (theory)?
I have made these questions the foundation for the book review forms I have provided for you. These forms serve as your guide on how to read a book from a scholarly perspective. My job is to train you to do this, while educating you about the content of the readings through the lecture/seminar process.
Like many of you, I have family, friend, faith-based, community service, and work responsibilities that extend beyond this classroom. Based on seventeen years of teaching at the university level, I have come to the conclusion that one week's time is sufficient for a graduate student to come to terms with a text and supplementary readings and gain the ability to discuss the above aspects of them in class. It comes down to commitment and time management. To truly master any of our texts would require several readings over an extended period of time (that is my job, not yours). This sort of mastery is not my intention for you. Should you choose to delve more deeply into the subject matter of the text, for your thesis, for example, you can allocate more study time later or take classes in the HSEC program or other departments that delve more deeply into the weekly subject material.
What we read is important, and learning how to read at the graduate level is important, too. Ask yourself what are you looking for as you read. If you are merely looking to acquire content (so that you can regurgitate later), you may find yourself disinterested. If you are looking for how this particular scholar has fashioned a compelling scholarly argument, however, you should find much of interest, and even for future use in your own work.
Note you will have ten book reviews to turn in by the end of the course (one review for one required book, selecting any ten of the sixteen books assigned in class). Remember to download the book review form.