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New master’s program to prepare future security professionals

North­eastern will launch a first-​​of-​​its-​​kind, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary grad­uate pro­gram this fall to train the next generation of secu­rity pro­fes­sionals to face the new and evolving chal­lenges of the 21st cen­tury. Through this pro­gram, stu­dents will be equipped with skills in tra­di­tional secu­rity studies as well as training in technical fields such as cybersecurity policy, busi­ness sus­tain­ability, and urban coastal resilience.

The master of science in security and resilience studies will be offered through the College of Social Sciences and Humanities in coordination with the College of Engineering and College of Computer and Information Science. Stephen Flynn, co-​​director of Northeastern’s George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security and director of the Center for Resilience Studies, designed the program.

Flynn, who is a pro­fessor of polit­ical sci­ence, said the country’s national secu­rity shouldn’t merely focus on identifying and engaging poten­tial threats or enemies. Security efforts, strate­gies, and poli­cies must also recognize the wide range of haz­ards and vulnerabilities—from cybert­er­rorism to nat­ural disasters—that place the U.S. population and infra­struc­ture at risk, and they must make those sys­tems more secure and resilient. These systems include the energy and trans­porta­tion sec­tors, supply chains, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions networks.

“A good national defense involves more than going after our adver­saries over­seas,” Flynn said. “Stu­dents will learn how to assess and manage the many risks to our com­mu­ni­ties, crit­ical infra­struc­ture, and the global networks we depend on for our way of life and quality of life.”

The pro­gram aligns with Northeastern’s national lead­er­ship in research ini­tia­tives built around secu­rity, which is one of the university’s core research themes along with health and sustainability.

The pro­gram is geared toward both recent under­grad­u­ates and mid-​​career pro­fes­sionals, including vet­erans. Students can choose between a year­long full-​​time track or a part-​​time track, both of which will be offered through the university’s hybrid format of class­room and online learning. They can specialize in one of three areas: cyberspace policy; admin­is­tra­tion, man­age­ment, and policy; or coun­tert­er­rorism. The pro­gram will include a capstone project in which stu­dents work in the field or con­duct supervised research on improving security and resilience.

Flynn said his three decades of expe­ri­ence in the secu­rity field informed the program’s design. His expe­ri­ence includes serving in the White House, advising the 9/​11 Com­mis­sion, and con­sulting with industry. “The secu­rity field is dynamic and is rapidly growing out­side its tra­di­tional base,” Flynn said. “This pro­gram is designed to meet what gov­ern­ment offi­cials and industry leaders have told me are their work­force needs.

“We are prob­ably going to end up writing the text­books for this emerging field because there aren’t any right now,” he added. “I’ve been working on this issue for most of my pro­fes­sional career, and I drew on my experiences and numerous resources to make this cur­riculum cut­ting edge.”

– By Joe O’Connell

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