The New Era of Educational Needs
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The New Era of Educational Needs

David Stender, Deputy Director - Institute for Homeland Security,Sam Houston State University
David Stender, Deputy Director - Institute for Homeland Security,Sam Houston State University

David Stender, Deputy Director - Institute for Homeland Security,Sam Houston State University

The educational needs of students and the workforce have changed. There is no longer only one path of formal education followed by searching for employment. More and more, students are working while they attend school, creating a need for a different model than the traditional approach. We at the Sam Houston State University Institute for Homeland Security recognize these needs. September 1st, 2022, marked the one-year mark for our Institute. The Institute funded the creation of three academic security and resilience certificates in critical infrastructure consisting of five-week courses. Students take baseline courses in emergency management, critical infrastructure protection, and computer security, followed by completing their certificates in transportation, chemical and energy, or healthcare. Students can immediately post these certificates to their resumes, allowing them to be more competitive for internships and employment as they continue their degrees.

These courses follow a distinctly different development structure than traditional courses. The materials come from open educational resources developed in an Innovative media-rich format with high user impact content developed by practitioners and subject matter experts. The learning management system runs on Blackboard Ultra with an intuitive interface on desktops, tablets, or cell phones, allowing for a liner text form ideal for vertical scrolling for a narrative flow. Embedded media allow for engaging instructional content accessible without leaving the platform. Instructional designers and graphics experts work directly with subject matter experts to ensure visually stylized design.

Though a five-week forty-hour course experience for undergraduates meets the requirements for understanding critical infrastructure, this does not meet the professional development needs of practitioners in the field. These courses provide an overview in the same topic area without the academic emphasis and forty-hour formats, focusing on the needs of professional learners for non-academic credit certificates to meet the needs of professionals.

When we shift the focus from academic learning to effective security programs, the goal becomes creating a knowledge base to develop an agile, risk-based process focused on threats. A risk-based management program focused on creating business value for the company requires a distinct set of skills for security professionals. Crisis planning and leader training are needed to adapt to and overcome crises in an interconnected world with instant global communication. Corporations that effectively manage a situation often recover stronger from the incident because they implement a fact-based, flexible crisis management process using an all-encompassing crisis communications strategy resulting in better communications to all impacted parties. 

The Sam Houston State University's new Institute for Homeland Security (SHSU-IHS) is partnering with corporate critical infrastructure owners and operators to create professional certification programs beyond the ones mentioned above based on the needs of each organization. These programs aim to develop a credential that confirms the holder is knowledgeable in blending homeland security, risk analysis, business management, and private sector leadership skills to effectively protect critical infrastructure while simultaneously adding quantifiable value to corporate business objectives through an in-person or online format meeting the needs of the professional development customer.

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