Homeland security has become an increasingly relevant career choice since the tragedy of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Now, students wishing to concentrate their studies in that area can do so at William Woods University.
The university’s Criminal Justice program, established a few years ago, has been revised to provide a homeland security emphasis, starting in the fall. William Woods is not alone—Johns Hopkins University, the University of Houston and Grantham University are offering homeland security programs.
“It is anticipated that homeland security will be the biggest government employer for the next decade or longer because of the continued terrorist threats faced by the United States,” Cynthia Kramer, associate professor of political science and director of the university’s legal studies program, said.
She said the university’s new homeland security emphasis is something that is now and will continue to be in high demand.
“Our program will provide a unique approach to national security issues by focusing on an understanding of the historical, sociological and psychological aspects of terrorism, combined with the practical legal and forensic framework of criminal justice.”
She feels that WWU’s Criminal Justice program is already more law-focused than many programs and she sees that as a real advantage for her students. A majority of other criminal justice curriculums are focused on policing and corrections, she said.
Kramer explained that many law enforcement organizations are interested in recruiting individuals with law, psychology, sociology and other liberal arts-focused degrees. Federal law enforcement agencies are particularly interested in individuals with a strong legal background. The FBI requires a law degree for some senior-level positions.
“Although we believe the legal emphasis in our major is beneficial to students and already sets us apart from other Criminal Justice programs, we have revised our program curriculum to give students an even greater edge with the homeland security emphasis.”
According to Kramer, students interested in careers in criminal investigation at the local, state or federal level would find a degree from William Woods particularly helpful. The university’s new courses, including “Forensic Evidence” and “Surveillance and Interrogation Techniques,” plus an existing course, “Legal Interviewing and Investigation,” are all focused on criminal investigation.
Other courses added for the homeland security emphasis include: “The Thought and the Deed: The History and Philosophy of Terrorism,” “Psychology of Fear: Terrorism in the 21st Century,” “Intelligence Management, Threat Assessment in Homeland Security and Countermeasures,” and “Contemporary Movements and Organizations.”
Existing courses that will be part of the curriculum are “American Legal System,” “Politics and Government,” “Introduction to Criminal Justice,” “Civil Liberties,” “Criminal Law and Procedure,” “Legal Interviewing and Investigation,” “Internship III” and “Senior Seminar.”
Based on the job market and the increasing use of science and electronic techniques, Kramer strongly urges students to take additional science and computer-information courses as electives. Internships are particularly important, as well, she emphasized.
As part of the revision to a homeland security emphasis, WWU has added a new part-time criminal justice faculty member, Carol England. As a police officer she did substantial investigative work before leaving the police force to go to law school.
Since becoming a lawyer, she has been serving as assistant prosecuting attorney for Callaway County and city attorney for Fulton, and she will continue in both positions.
Kramer herself is a licensed attorney, and Peggy Nickerson, who also teaches in the program, has conducted extensive investigations in a variety of contexts as a paralegal.
“I believe we offer academic credentials and practical experience that most schools our size do not have,” Kramer said.
“William Woods University is known for providing innovative programs that serve the needs of students as well as the community,” Sherry McCarthy, academic dean, said. “Students participating in this program will receive a good blend of theory and application provided by faculty with both the academic and practical expertise to make this program challenging and relevant.”