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Effects of 9/11 Shape New Graduate School Programs

Think homeland security or terrorism studies are the only post-9/11 courses? Think again.


It's been a decade since the ravaging attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but the effects of the tragedy continue to shape higher education. 

In the years since 9/11, academic programs and centers dedicated to homeland security have been established at campuses nationwide. 

"If you go back to 9/11 and you look across the nation, you would not have found any university with any homeland security program," says Bob Lally, dean of such a program at Colorado Technical University. "Here we are 10 years later, and we have over 250 universiites that hold a bachelor's level degree relative to homeland security, and about 50 that have a master's level degree. That's the growth of homeland security."

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But new curricula is not restricted to programs that directly address a threat of terrorist attacks. Other programs have been created across academic disciplines in response to the effects of 9/11. In the new military clinical psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, for example, doctoral students are trained to provide relief to veterans, victims, and family members through courses such as the "Psychology of Combat and Conflict" and "Mental Health Law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice." 

"9/11 was a wake-up call for the need for what we call psychological consequence management," says Joseph Troiani, Adler professor and retired Navy commander who began the program this fall to fill a burgeoning void of civilian and armed services psychologists to address trauma imposed by both the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent war. 

The attacks also served as a gateway for increased attention to issues surrounding emergency preparedness, says Michael Greenberger, professor at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. This focus on emergency preparedness—across a variety of scenarios—has created a "sweet spot" where lawyers can excel in an otherwise dismal job market, Greenberger notes. 

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"Lawyers are trained in how to get things done, how to organize not only issues but people, and we're finding the legal experience to be very helpful in the emergency management function," Greenberger says. "This, in an [environment] of job depletion for lawyers, is a growth area." 

The university currently offers courses such as "Homeland Security and the Law of Counterterrorism" and the "Law and Policy of Emergency Catastrophic Response," and will soon be adding training in cybersecurity law and policy of emergency management law and policy. 

In some cases, effects of the attacks linger in more traditional academic disciplines. In his graduate-level international business and trade courses, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business Associate Professor Michael Czinkota used to focus mainly on profit share optimization. The events of the last decade, however—9/11 included—have encouraged him to cover a more robust curriculum to address a changing global playing field. "A singular focus on optimization has really softened, and [now] includes many more societal dimensions," Czinkota says. 

[Find out where high school teachers can access 9/11 lesson plans.]

Now, he teaches his students about consumer risk exposure and response, flexibility, and adaptability in the case of a disruption. Already this year, his international business classes have discussed changes to the international environment, and he plans to discuss that a global partnership now includes criteria for creating and maintaining trust abroad. 

"9/11 raised the issue that there is more than just business transactions—those are the things that we bring now into the classroom, which perhaps we hadn't done enough of [prior to 9/11]," Czinkota says. "This markedly increases the resilience-thinking capability of our students." 

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