Seminar in Homeland Security

So what are we covering in this class? This class provides analytical tools to address man-made critical incidents resulting from various forms of irregular warfare (especially terrorism and insurgency in the post-9/11 world) from a global, comparative perspective. In other words, homeland security is not unique to the U.S., but of concern to nations around the globe. Indeed, often times homeland security challenges for one state are inherently linked to challenges and opportunities for a host of other states.

Consequently, this class takes a systems approach to understanding the complexity of the human dynamics involved in analyzing irregular warfare and its impact on security in time and space. Additionally, the many of the implications of irregular warfare for liberal democracies are addressed as are the unintended consequences (i.e., blowback) inherent to efforts undertaken by the state and non-state actors to prevent them from occurring.

This course could cover a number of different issues since the natural and man-made challenges facing the U.S. at home and abroad are quite numerous. Unfortunately, there is not enough time to cover all of them. Therefore, this semester's course focuses largely on a subset of man-made challenges generated within the context of irregular warfare, specifically irregular warfare as practiced globally and in the U.S. by Al-Qaeda and like-minded and/or allied networks and movements. Additionally, this course will examine some of the actions of the United States and other nations to counter these challenges.

The overall purpose of this class within the context of the HSEC Program is to produce leaders from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds who can effectively and efficiently identify, design and mobilize the appropriate community resources to prevent, deter, preempt, defend against, and respond to terrorist attacks and/or 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). Consequently, 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, then, what we will cover in this course are only but 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 to current issues related to homeland security. In that spirit, the class discussions and exams 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. In summary, this class addresses a subject of vital importance to our society and therefore raises the bar of expectations for those who choose to take it.