News from the Bush School

Bush School Offers Homeland Security Certification Program

March 04, 2011

Few academic programs offered by universities have possible life-or-death implications, but one at Texas A&M definitely does — with the safety of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans potentially hanging in the balance in the not-too-distant future.

The students in a special homeland security program are anything but typical. Many are in law enforcement or emergency management serving in communities across the nation and some are border-patrol agents. At least one is an FBI agent and there are also officials employed by the Department of Homeland Security. The program is also very popular with serving military personnel, some of whom connect from overseas. Also many private sector workers participate in the certificate classes.

They do not meet regularly in an Aggieland classroom, as do most of the university’s nearly 50,000 students. Rather, because of their diversified and pressing duties in scattered locations across the nation, these students conduct their formal studies online. Rather than having traditional face-to-face conversations, classmates converse in cyberspace.

It all emanates from Texas A&M’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service, with the emphasis in this instance on public service — and mass public safety. This special program is called the Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and is administered by the Office of Extended Education.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker, dean of the Bush School, has high praise for the program.

“This program is another demonstration of the Bush School’s commitment to educating leaders who will add value to our nation,” Dean Crocker observed. “It enables our students to gain an understanding of the importance of national security in the context of the main challenges facing us around the world and at home.”

Requirements for being accepted into — and staying in — the master’s degree-level program are stringent, notes Dr. Danny Davis, who directs the demanding curriculum. He says applicants must have an undergraduate degree. Once enrolled in the program, they must maintain a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 system.

“Successful graduates of the 15 semester-credit-hour graduate-level program receive formal homeland security certification and — more importantly — the ‘know-how’ that could make a big difference when and if terrorists should attempt to strike,” Davis explains.

Davis has to his credit a 20-year active-duty Army career that included a variety of command and staff positions in Airborne, Ranger and Special Forces units. He also holds undergraduate history and doctoral education degrees from Texas A&M and a master’s from Troy State University in international relations. He is the author of a recently published book on domestic terrorism, The Phinehas Priesthood, Violent Vanguard of the Christian Identity Movement.

The titles of the online certificate master’s level courses are sobering. There’s “Terrorism in Today’s World,” “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” “Protection of the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure” and “Cyber Security for Managers,” among others. All students must take the basic “Fundamentals of Homeland Security” course and then choose four others from the 12 offerings. Students have the option of selecting four that combine for specialized emphases: Homeland Security Policy and Management, National Security Policy, Emergency and Crisis Preparedness and Management and Critical Infrastructure Protection.

“This Bush School certificate program combines a broad understanding of homeland security issues and strategies at the national level with an in-depth analysis of key security issues affecting federal, state and local government as well as private business,” Davis emphasizes.

He expresses confidence that the students who successfully complete the program can contribute significantly in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) efforts to prevent, protect against, respond to and/or recover from a catastrophic incident.

“Since 2002, DHS has established a proactive culture to carry out those mandates,” Davis notes. “They have focused on the borders and entry points with initiatives in border security, port security, and airline passenger and cargo screening. Internally, DHS has provided resources to states, major metropolitan areas, transit systems and railroads. Through the use of capabilities-based planning, there have been major improvements and enhancements in the ability to protect the population, critical infrastructure and the economy.”

While he says the system is not perfect, there can be no question “that the nation is at a much improved and enhanced level of preparation compared to 2002.

“Graduates of the Bush School homeland security certificate program, working at all levels of government and in the private sector will unquestionably enhance the capability to keep our nation as safe as humanly possible,” Davis concludes.