During the weekend of Feb. 7-8, a newly-formed 21-member task force of community colleges within the AACC (American Association of Community Colleges)
met in Washington,
with an agenda aimed towards improving and developing new programs related to homeland security. Additionally, the task force is
coalescing and coordinating homeland security education efforts which are already under development or underway around the nation. According to AACC President, George R. Boggs, "This new, strategic collaboration will significantly accelerate our national preparedness."
The task force will find that there are currently two primary focal points for educating the Homelander, the first being practical training, which provides knowledge on terrorists and terrorism, disaster management, and public laws and regulations, as well as other specialized disciplines. The second focus is upon civic responsibility, which helps the student learn to meet community needs, increase community involvement, and develop a sense of caring for others, and generally become a better citizen. Various community colleges around the nation have specialized in one or the other, and in some cases, both of these disciplines.
The practical training component of a homeland security education is, to a large degree, already well defined - at least for 2-year programs. The
Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) in coordination with the
Department of Homeland Security
have established the
Emergency Management Institute
which provides the core nationwide cirriculum being taught at most community colleges which offer a homeland security program. The curriculum consists of coursework within the previously-named disciplines, and aims to provide a well-rounded introduction to the skills necessary for the Homeland Security specialist. A sampling of these
interesting and challenging courses
For those seeking something more than a 2-year certification, a number of Universities have also now developed homeland security programs, and the high-achiever can now obtain both undergraduate and graduate degrees in this exciting field. Just a few of the programs available include:
Other degree programs
and certifications are also available.
The second primary focus for educating the homelander aims to increase their civic responsibility. This is accomplished via enhancing the students level of
community and civic engagement,
and expose them to something called
a process whereby the student increases her ability to learn and retain new information - not by reading, but by saying and doing. To that end, an extensive program of community service, along with citizenship training are provided. Of particular interest is the civics program offered throughout the US entitled,
Project Citizen: A Model for Teaching Civic Engagement.
This model program for educating the homelander in proper citizenship, and against "alienation from the political process", seeks to empower students to exercise their rights and responsibilities of citizenship. It's just one among many programs available within the civic responsibility focus of a homeland security education.
Another highlight within the civic responsibility focus are the frequent
seminars, and forums which aim to help the student as well as the educator "adapt to the paths of change" within service learning and community engagement. Other recent conferences include
Homeland Security and the Community College: A Vibrant Present and Vital Future,
the summary of two recent forums which addressed both training, and engaging, the homeland.
Most of the homeland security education programs, whether 2-year, undergraduate, or graduate, currently find the majority of their attendees among the nation's "first-responders" - law enforcement officers, firefighters, nurses, and EMTs. Being a first-responder is not a prerequisite however - most of the 2-year programs invite anyone with an interest in homeland security to join (US citizenship may be required). Additionally, community colleges are rapidly establishing or expanding programs to prepare professionals in other fields, such as environmental safety, power grid management, and especially information technology and cyber security.
According to Dan Snyder, president of Lehigh Carbon Community College in Pennsylvania, "Five years ago if you wanted to take a course on terrorism you basically had to go to the military, today I think you're seeing a lot more training, and the facilities that are necessary to provide that high-level training." Indeed, what was once the purview of very specialized schools such as
and Officer Training academies has now reached the mainstream - motivated by terrorism and fighting evil, but also to create better citizens, and a more engaged homeland. Regarding the ability of community colleges to provide the security training that our nation needs so desparately, Thomas Flynn, president of
Monroe Community College,
one of the members of the task force, and whose program includes two complete 737-burn simulators, said, "No one can do it better,".
Have you considered Homeland Security as a career path? If so, you're not alone - snapshots of attendance at some colleges which offer these programs show significant increases in enrollment, with hundreds of brand new students signing up, just to learn about terrorism, WMDs, security, and how they too can be better, more engaged citizens. Why not join in one of the most exciting new career fields available to Americans, and start your Homeland Education today!