Tech Talk: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism


[John] Welcome to the Department of Homeland
Security, Science and Technology. I’m John Verrico and this is Tech Talk. The Department of Homeland Security, Science
and Technology Directorate is the research and development arm that supports the enormous mission of
the department. One of the things that we do, is we go to the people who are on the front line
of security, the front line of protecting our nation, the front line of responding
to disasters and we ask the people what is it that you need to make your job
better, safer, faster, more secure? Whatever. And then we turn to industry, we turn to other government laboratories, we turn to academia to try to find those solutions. Those technological
solutions to those challenges. So in reaching out to the bright minds of academia the Department of Homeland Security has established
mission focused centers of excellence through our university programs office. There are currently nine of these centers of excellence,
encompassing a consortia of nearly two hundred individual colleges and universities. it’s quite a large brain pool that we have of smart| people out there thinking about these things. The COEs have three primary focus areas in research, in education and in training and all three of
those focus areas complement each other and provide a foundation for how the COEs will operate to meet those objectives.
The ultimate objective of course is to positively impact Homeland Security and they do this by transitioning the results, the products
and the outcomes in the form of tools, technologies and knowledge
products to the DHS components and to state and local entities. Today’s Tech Talk
we are going to feature the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism
and the Response to Terrorism, otherly known as START. It is a DHS Center of Excellence(COE) led
by the University of Maryland. With me today I have Gina Harrigan, who is the Program
Manager in the Science and Technology directorates office of university programs. We have Liberty Day, who is Assistant Director of Education and Training
at START, welcome. And also Joyce Rasing, the Graduate Education
Program Coordinator at START. So thank you all for joining us. We really appreciate having you here today. So let’s start off with the most
basic of all questions and what is START? [Gina] So START is one our first actually our second Center of Excellence
that was established about 12 years ago. It is led by the University of Maryland, like you already said and its focus is on the I’m going to have to put my glasses on for this
so I don’t mess this up, but its focus is on advancing science base knowledge about the causes and consequences of terrorism and the
effectiveness and consequences of responses to terrorism. Through its research
START provides actionable data tools and training to assist the current and
future Homeland Security workforce. [John] Thank you. So tell me about STARTs training program? [Joyce] Well
over the last several years we’ve really focused a lot of attention on developing
our training capabilities as specifically we wanna reach professional
audiences who have the ability to use the research in such a way that it impacts policy and practice and so one of the ways that we’ve done this is we’ve worked with the
training program itself, which is a team of training professionals, works with subject matter experts from our consortium to identify appropriate
content that we can then build out into a training course. And so what’s
really great about that is that we have over the last several years really developed a diverse training portfolio. It’s as diverse as our research portfolios as well. We have trainings available on risk and crisis communication, on encountering violent extremism, on terrorism awareness for ferry operators. And this just gives you a brief overview of the range of possible training topics that we can provide. [John] Wow, that’s quite a broad spectrum. So what is S&T’s role in this Gina? [Gina] We
have a federal program managers and we make those connections between the DHS components and the First Responders to the actual academic sources of information. We make sure that work that we do in academia is mission relevant. It’s not ivory tower, its mission relevant there to deliver solutions for the
Homeland Security enterprise. [John] Excellent. So now our audience for these Tech Talks is pretty much a broad spectrum of stakeholder,
they could be First Responders, they could be people in industry, they
could be potential students that might want to get involved in some of
these programs. So are there any specific training opportunities that we would like to highlight that
might, that maybe they will be interested in? [Liberty] Yes, one of the reasons we wanted
to come talk to you all today is based on the fact that we have a suite of training courses on countering violent extremism, which
has been funded by FEMA and those courses, I’ll give you an overview really quickly of four courses, like our most relevant
to this audience at this time and these include both online courses
and one in-person course. The first one we released in March of 2017 and it’s Community lead Actions in Response to Violent Extremism, otherwise known as CARVE. It’s about a four. [John] Would you
spell that out again please? [Liberty] Yes, it’s C-A-R-V-E, Community lead Actions in Responses to Violent
Extremism. [John] Thank you. [Liberty] Yeah, so this is a four hour
online course. It’s self-paced. It’s available through the University of
Maryland learning management system. You do not have to be an affiliate of UMD
to take the course and it is offered for free. This course in particular is going to give you an introduction to the radicalization of violence
and from a research perspective and it’s also going to answer the question
of what can a communities do in response to violent extremism and so this is provided to lay groundwork some of our other courses. The next course that was just released earlier this year is specifically for using non-integrating mental
health and education approaches and Encountering Violent Extremism and so
that is a three and a half hour course based online, available for free. You can go sign-up and jump right into the course almost
immediately and then you have sixty days to complete once you are in the course space, but
this really takes a look at how mental health providers and educational professionals can be included in the response. So it explores this potential and actual synergy between these areas of study and CDE itself and then
we have a Countering Violence Extremest Narratives. This course looks at five different types of violent narratives that are and specifically what are the messages that the violent extremist groups
put forth in order to justify the use of violence and so we take a look at what those narratives actually are and the latter
part of the course we talk about the principles of how you can develop counter narratives or alternative narratives to these violent
narratives that are being put forth. That one again is an online self-paced course and is also available via the same platform.
[John] Is that one also free? [Liberty] Yes. That’s an amazing thing, you don’t
normally hear that so I’ll repeat that these courses are free and that’s an really important that gives people a great opportunity to come on and learn really important background issues. [Liberty]
They are supported by FEMA, so FEMA is actually covering the cost of delivery so. [John] That’s
fantastic. [Liberty] And then we have one final course and this is an in-person course, so it’s designed to be much more in depth and really focused on
building the skills within the community but if it’s focusing on coalition building and
for CVE and community resilience. It’s designed to be provided be provided
to groups of between 25, 35 individuals. We want to draw from multidiscipline areas and backgrounds. So that everyone in the
room has the opportunity to learn from each other and to consider how they can build a coalition to develop a community specific response to violent extremism. And we have funding from FEMA to provide up
to seven iterations of this and so we are looking for communities who are interested
in bringing us in to provide this training and that one is also free. [Gina] And John,
such a broad audience is in line with the Homeland Security national
preparedness goal. We recognize that a secure and resilient nation requires a full community. [John] That’s brilliant, cause I was gonna ask it sounds like these courses, you mentioned that they’d be interesting to our audience and I was wondering
if these were intended for Homeland Security professionals or for that broader audience. [Liberty] Well when FEMA tasked us with developing these
courses, they specifically wanted us to develop them for community partners and so we defined that very broadly, because we do
feel like it does take a number of different professionals and
disciplines to create an effective response and so just for an example
our first course CARVE was released last year, that’s been taken by emergency management personnel, law enforcement,
educational professionals students, researchers, school research officers, educators so we have a very wide potential audience that were able to reach with these courses.
[John] So what are the benefits if I am a, let’s say I am a Homeland Security
professional in some capacity whether in law enforcement, emergency management,
school resource officer whatever, what are the benefits of participating in these types of courses?
[Liberty] Well the first is just understanding how we are defining these
different topic areas. There’s a lot of different definitions. When we first got into creating these
courses, it was surprising to us that there wasn’t an agreed upon lexicon for this particular topic area, so we do provide some really basic information about what is violent extremism,
what is terrorism, what is hate crimes and how they are related. And so it gives a
common language that people can use that is academically informed. So the benefit of all of our courses is that we do draw upon our research findings and many of which are funded from S&T and so it is an academically informed research driven
content on this particular topic. And in addition it really helps identify the fact that this is a type of issue that a full community will have to engage in and so it does open people’s eyes to the fact that I have a role in this and what is my role? And so you get
to explore those types of topic areas. And then finally I will say, at least initially our evaluations are very positive and at least three out of four report that they have increased their knowledge
skills and abilities. And then CARVE in particular, 96% of people who completed the course said they would recommend it to a peer and so
we feel very positive about that. [John] That’s excellent. So are there any eligibility requirements that people have to have as a prerequisite or something that,
some baseline that they should know before they even get in? [Liberty] No baselines
at each level before you get in and while we do feel like the courses are strongest when taken together. We have tried to anticipate that not everyone is going to be able to take the full suite
of courses and so we do cover a reduced overview. We do some basic groundwork
in each of the courses so you don’t have to take all of them if one of them speaks to you more strongly
than the others than that would be fine. Some other prerequisites, well actually it’s not a prerequisite, it’s just some eligibility requirements that I would that I would
want to make people aware of is the fact that this is a FEMA funded course and because of that you do have to be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident in order to do qualify to take the course, however if you are not a resident or a legal resident or a legal resident or a citizen and you do want to take course,
if you have a sponsoring agency then we can fill out a foreign visitor request form and get you access to the course. It’s just a little bit more
of a paperwork process to make that happen. [John] And where can they go to register? [Liberty] Well you can register for any of the online courses via our website www.START.umd.edu. [John] And that’s on the screen. [Liberty] Okay and there is along the top there is a section of our website dedicated to training and so what you’ll do
is go to the training drop down menus and select the trainings that you are interested
in and then you’ll be taken to the registration page of our LMS,|now if you’re interested and bringing us in to do the in-person training,
then you would want to get in contact with me. Which is [email protected] [John] Thank you and that’s on the screen as well. And just let me encourage people to, for
those of you watching this please if you have any questions at all just put them in
the comments and we will get back to you and we will respond to you and also you can
reach out directly to Liberty at that training email or go
onto the STARTs website. Let’s talk about the graduate certification program. What is, kinda tell, tell us about it? Tell us about the
certificate program. [Joyce] Yeah, so the program is a four course, 12 credit, online synchronous program at the University of Maryland of course.
It provides graduate level education for interested individuals wanting to learn about thee causes, dynamics and impacts
of terrorism in a domestic and international realm. [John] So what kinds of courses are a part of this graduate curriculum? [Joyce] Sure. So there are four courses that each
individual has to complete in order to receive the certificate program. The first two are the core courses, Motivations and Intents of
Terrorist and Terrorist Group, Groups Societal Impacts of and Responses to Terrorism. So these two courses generally gauge thee the discussion of terrorism and how it’s defined in the academic realm. They discuss how global and global terrorist events and terrorist are framed in the field in the academia. There are a few elective courses, in which
a student has to choose one of them. Countering Violent Extremism, Policy and Practice and Legal and communal Approaches to Encountering a
violent Extremism. So the first course CBE or Legal and communal Approaches to Encountering a
violent Extremism. So the first course CBE or Encountering a violent Extremism is a very
popular topic in this realm so they talk about the existing programs both domestically and internationally. And lastly there is a
research methods course in which a student has to choose between qualitative
and quantitative research methods. [John] So how are these courses run? Are these in-person or are they online? How do they do these?
[Joyce] Yes, so they are not in-person, but they are online. They are also synchronous and they run after 6pm Eastern Standard time. [John] So somebody has to login and watch it,
when it’s happening? [Joyce] Yes, so they yeah the student gains access to the University of
Maryland’s systems, once they are admitted into the program. [John] Great, thank you. So does S&T envision that we will get a lot of people
that already employed at DHS that might pursue this certificate? So anecdotally we do get contacted by DHS personnel that want to take courses and so they ask us about the development of those courses and a lot of our research has transitioned and has provided the content for the course material. [John] That’s cool. [Joyce] I just wanted to add on to that, that 25% of our students come from federal employers. Some of them include DHS, the FBI, DOJ and NIJ. And we also have a small population of students that also have jobs within the military, but they’re not active duty or civilian military. [John] Now they do have to have a bachelor’s degree before doing this? [Joyce] Yes. [John] But they don’t already have to have a masters
in something else? [Joyce] No, they we only require a bachelor’s degree for our program, although we recommend that they have already obtained a
masters degree but it is not required to have a masters. [John] But this is a graduate level certificate? [Joyce] Right
this is a graduate level. [John] Good, good. So what’s the application process like? What does it take to get
into this? [Joyce] So the application process will be through our website, which I’ll mention later. We’ll require an online form, which collects your demographics, as well as your personal statement. A current resume or CVE, as well as two recommendation letters from your employer or previous instructors. [John] So the recommendation letters are the real key to getting
in the door and that’s good to know. When’s the next deadline? [Joyce] So we have
a few months until the next deadline. January 12th, 2019 will be the next deadline for the spring 2019 semester. [John] Okay, so thank you. And they sign-up on the website, which is www.start.umd.edu and if they have questions, your email? [Joyce] Yes. If you have any questions, you can contact
us at [email protected] [John] Okay, so its [email protected] for education at start.umd.edu? Great, thank you. So Gina this is very exciting what’s going on at START and I know there
are lots of great opportunities in some of the other centers of excellence. If someone wanted to know
about what’s going on in some of the other centers of excellence, where should they find information?
[Gina] So I think the best is to log onto the SciTech website, which I think is on the screen now.
[website: https://scitech.dhs.gov] Search under university programs and from
the university programs and centers of excellence. You can get a link to
the other nine centers of excellence homepages and on those pages you will learn
about all the centers. [John] Excellent. So that is for all of you out there do not use www, it is the https: back slash, back slash, but its SciTech, s-c-i-.- t-e-c-h-.dhs.gov. Search for centers of excellence or search
for university programs and either of those will get you to the information
about all the different center and the offerings that we have and the wonderful
programs we have for universities. So I want to thank all of you for joining us today.
Before we wrap it up is there anything you’d like to add, anything that you think people
absolutely should know about the center? We covered everything? [Joyce] I think you’ve covered everything. Thank you. [John] Okay, great
thank you. Well I to want to point out that START is the home of the Global Terrorism Database and it has all of the research covering all terrorist incidents and responses to terrorist
incidents going way way back to the earliest recorded incident, so it’s quite an amazing database.
It is used by law enforcement agencies and all sorts of organizations
and research organizations around the world and so that is kind of your claim to fame before you get into these types of things, so keep that in mind.
Thank you for joining us. Join us next time for another Tech Talk.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *