The field of cybersecurity is ever-changing. Dr. Danny Davis is working to stay ahead if the game.
“There is constant change in cybersecurity,” said Davis, a senior lecturer in terrorism, cybersecurity, security policy, and military history at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, and Director of the School’s Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security. “There isn’t much time to cover cyber history. In the cyber field, 2010 is history. Most of the issues covered in class are what’s happening right now.”
Given the evolving nature of the subject of his course offerings, Davis also finds it important that his students are subjected to the perspectives of professionals in the field of national security. His classes have welcomed guest speakers from the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, and computer security experts known as “white hat hackers.”
“I like to have people come in and talk who are actually in the field,” Davis said. “In contemporary subjects like domestic terrorism and cybersecurity, I think that’s important.”
In his near ten years at the Bush School, Davis has been on the cutting edge of the field of national security through his research and teaching. Davis teaches three Bush School courses and a capstone focused on domestic terrorism, cybersecurity, and homeland security through a policy and strategy lens. His focus on domestic terrorism and the emerging threats to cybersecurity make him unique among his colleagues at the Bush School.
“I enjoy the classroom environment and exchanging ideas and engaging in discussion with students,” Davis said. “I want to share knowledge with students and help them develop good research skills.”
In his Domestic Terrorism class, Davis covers the history of terrorism with an emphasis on terrorism by Islamist elements and international sponsors of terrorist activity. His Foundations of Homeland Security course considers policy at the federal level as well as the jurisdictional issues and interactions among local, state, and federal agencies in response to a crisis. Davis’s Cybersecurity course, designed for managers, discusses ever-evolving cyber threats to individuals and the private and public sectors in an increasingly networked world.
“My teaching style has not changed much since I was an infantry lieutenant,” said Davis. “I have high expectations and stress being prepared. I ask a lot of questions throughout the class to engage students; this also gives me an indication of who has done the required reading.”
In addition to his duties as a lecturer, Davis is the director of the graduate Certificate in Homeland Security program and was appointed the coordinator for the Executive Master in Public Service and Administration degree program. Davis has published numerous articles on domestic terrorism and national security and is currently working on a book on Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade, a Confederate infantry unit from the Civil War.
“I have always been interested in the Civil War,” Davis said. “I’ve visited major Civil War battle fields, the National Archives, and the Mississippi state archives in putting the book together.”
Davis’s forty-year career has spanned military and civilian professions with deep roots at Texas A&M. After completing his bachelor’s in history at A&M in 1976, Davis served for twenty years in command and staff positions in airborne, ranger, and Special Forces units. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1997. During his time in the Army, Davis earned a master’s in international relations at Troy State University. He earned his PhD in education from his alma matter in 2003. He came to the Bush School in 2007 after being recruited by fellow Bush School professor Dr. Dave McIntyre.
“[He] brought me in based on my work with the Army in the homeland security mission,” Davis said. “Also, the dean at the time, Dick Chilcoat, knew me from our days in the Berlin Brigade. Dick had been my battalion commander.”
Davis said he “still draws from the leadership lessons he first learned as an Aggie cadet.” He believes strongly in President Bush’s belief that public service is a noble calling and that people of character are needed to serve. A perspective based on his military service and academic pursuits guides his interaction with students.
“I want to pass along the importance of integrity in all aspects of life and work,” Davis said of his perspective on public service. “Just doing your job, seeking out the facts, not falling back on emotions, this is the essence of a professional. You owe your boss the best assessment of the facts you can gather.”