OVERLAND PARK – Homeland security professionals work in an increasingly complex environment, requiring high-level critical and creative thinking. A lot has changed in the 17 years since 9/11, and the latest Homeland Security Research Corp. study forecasts major shifts and significant growth between now and 2022.
Military, veteran and civilian students in the University of Kansas’ new, interdisciplinary homeland security masters program will culminate their degree with a simulation-style practicum June 18-19 at the KU Edwards Campus.
This intensive, two-day simulation is the result of extensive research and modeled after the 2003 blackout of the Eastern Grid and the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in 2017. This time, a fictitious malware intrusion threatens to cause a blackout that may last for several weeks or months.
Nine students will act as the Douglas County emergency management team, with roles similar to their diverse backgrounds: logistics, communications, the Army National Guard, law, engineering, first response and medicine. They will execute an emergency plan to mitigate the immediate situation as well as imminent challenges, civil unrest, the media, legal and political implications, and unforeseen circumstances.
Douglas County was instrumental in helping students prepare.
“As the hazard landscape continues to evolve, our communities need well-trained emergency management and homeland security professionals to enhance our nation’s ability to prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from any emergency or disaster, whether natural or manmade,” said Jillian Rodrigue, assistant director of Douglas County Emergency Management. “This resilience is strengthened through training, education and exercises like the Homeland Security Practicum. Our department is honored and excited to support such a strong group of students in this beneficial opportunity.”
Mike Hoeflich, the John H. & John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law and director of KU’s Master of Science in Homeland Security: Law & Policy, designed the exercise after working with Kansas City companies, rural professionals and Washington, D.C., experts to learn what would happen in this scenario. The homeland security program is offered in partnership between the Edwards and Leavenworth campuses of KU, recently ranked fifth on the 2018 Military Times Best: Colleges list.
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Hoeflich, students and faculty will also be available to comment on the importance of this training for homeland security and public safety in the U.S. and around the world.