Homeland security a growing field
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Twelve years after the 9/11 attacks, homeland security has become a common phrase and a burgeoning industry in the United States.
And it is now the focus of programs at two local universities.
Campbell University has begun offering a four-year undergraduate degree in homeland security. Fayetteville State University has established a Center for Defense and Homeland Security, which it says will foster education, research and the commercialization of scientific technologies used in mitigating and recovering from natural and man-made catastrophes.
Campbell, a private university in Buies Creek, began offering homeland security as a major course of study this fall. Previously, the school had offered concentrations related to homeland security. About 75 students have declared the major so far.
David Gray, a professor who directs Campbell's homeland security program, said he believes that number will grow as the major becomes established.
"It will be 100, easy," he said. "I think it's conceivable that we'll be in the neighborhood of 200 eventually."
Gray said there is a growing need across a wide spectrum of industries for workers with specialized training in security, disaster management and emergency matters. Besides the battle against terrorism, job fields include cybersecurity, public health, and natural and man-made disasters.
"It's a multidiscipline field, meaning you need all sorts of people," he said.
Students will be able to focus their studies in certain areas.
"What we're doing at this point in time is providing a degree in homeland security that helps students become marketable so they can get jobs," Gray said. "That's what we're after."
Kiersten Call, a senior from Fayetteville, said she originally majored in criminal justice with a concentration in homeland security. But when the school announced that homeland security would become a major, she decided to switch.
"This is a really important topic, and it's really interesting," she said.
Call said she plans to go to law school next and hopes eventually to work in Washington focusing on legal issues involving homeland security.
She said she was 9 when the 9/11 attacks happened and does not remember that time too well.
But she said she recognizes the effects and implications of terrorism in today's world.
"I think it's very possible that it could happen again, and that's the biggest fear that everybody has," she said. "And that's why educating people in it is so essential."
Campbell said it is the first and only university in North Carolina to have a four-year undergraduate degree in homeland security. But numerous universities offer varying levels of studies in the field. A website operated by the Naval Postgraduate School and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists 399 degree or certificate programs in homeland security, emergency management, emergency preparedness, terrorism or cybersecurity.
The list includes East Carolina University in Greenville, which offers an undergraduate minor and an online graduate certificate in security studies.
It does not include Campbell's new major, Fayetteville State's new center or the peace, war and defense major that has been offered at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill since the 1970s. Interest in the UNC major, called PWAD, has increased dramatically in recent years.
At Campbell, homeland security majors can take courses in civics, history, government, foreign language as well as specialized security- and intelligence-oriented courses.
The school says homeland security majors might seek jobs in areas such as all levels of law enforcement, criminal investigations, crime prevention and the courts.
It says key areas of interest include border and transportation security, domestic counterterrorism, protecting critical infrastructure, defending against catastrophic threats, and emergency preparedness and response.
Fayetteville State opened its Center for Defense and Homeland Security in 2011. Director Curtis B. Charles said the center has about two dozen scholars - FSU professors representing a variety of disciplines, including mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, physics, intelligence studies, management information studies, criminal justice and others.
The center is working with government agencies, national research laboratories, other universities and other entities to develop strategies, solutions and specialized workers for areas such as cybersecurity, national security, emergency and catastrophe management, and education and outreach on STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Charles said the center is providing research opportunities for Fayetteville State faculty and students and real-world training and experience for students, including active-duty soldiers and military personnel preparing to enter civilian life. It is also working with Cumberland County schools on science and math development for teachers.