Photo Credit: ASIS International. Dr. Elise Carlson-Rainer and Dr. Nicole Drumhiller, Professors of Security and Global Studies address the ASIS audience on life-long learning and adult education.
By Dr. Nicole Drumhiller
Associate Dean, School of Security and Global Studies, American Military University
This week, I had the pleasure of attending the ASIS International 2019 conference in Seattle, Washington. The workshops hit on many interdisciplinary topics specific to strategy and tactics in crisis management and violence assessment and intervention. Other sessions focused on facility security design and active assailant prevention, intervention, and response.
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In the violence assessment and intervention workshop at ASIS International, Factor One president Dr. James Cawood and South Carolina Behavioral Science Unit Special Agent in Charge Michael Prodan provided a robust curriculum for audience members interested in conducting threat assessments in various environments. While watching the facilitators present, there were numerous instances where I heard one of the speakers say, “This fascinates me” or “Don’t do this alone; take a team-based approach.”
These statements stood out as to me as they get to the heart of what drives individuals to pursue additional depth of knowledge in an area of interest. I would also be remiss if I didn’t reinforce that a team-based approach is a must when carrying out threat assessments, as Dr. Cawood noted during the discussion.
In going to a conference like ASIS International, I realized the deep interest that all of the professionals there have for bettering themselves and their professional practice. Lifelong learning is deeply entrenched within these professionals; they seek to better themselves over the long term, both personally and professionally.
Lifelong Learning Should Be a Continuous Process
Learning shouldn’t end when you reach a certain point in your career; it should be something you continuously pursue across your lifetime. As you mature, your areas of interest may change. Perhaps your personal and career goals may morph into something altogether different than what you originally intended.
In some cases, life happens and you might find it necessary to take a break from your career or your education. But for people with a strong desire for lifelong learning, this pause is only temporary. Even though you may have begun an educational program and needed to take a pause later, it’s never too late to go back and finish what you started.
Higher Education Offers Multiple Options for All Learners
Today’s educational environment is more dynamic than it has been in the past, leaving people with more options to gain the knowledge they want and need. From a higher education standpoint, universities and colleges are working hard to transform themselves in different ways.
For example, there has been a transition from traditional Ph.D.-style doctorates to applied doctorates like the Doctorate in Strategic Intelligence or Doctorate in Global Security. These academic programs have their students work to address real-world problems of practice. In this manner, they take the education they receive in their classes and work to apply it within the fields in which they are currently employed or hope to work in.
In addition, some universities now offer dual degree programs, such as the dual master’s degree in emergency and disaster management and homeland security. Some institutions are also starting to provide accelerated degrees to allow their students to rapidly advance from a B.A. to an M.A., saving those students time and money on their educational pursuits.
Short Program Offerings Also Rising in Popularity
However, lifelong learning doesn’t just encompass full degree programs. With employers focusing on skillset development, there is an increasing desire for short program offerings as well.
“Short programming” includes sets of courses that lead to a specific credential or badge. For instance, ASIS International offers a series of certifications, related to security and global studies, which can be used to add value to your professional portfolio. Another relevant certification is the Certified Threat Manager (CTM) certification offered by the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals.
Short programming involves learning tracks, competency-based micro-credentials or stackable credentials. In some cases, certificates are perceived to be more valuable as they signal that their owner has current knowledge of a particular area; however, this perception differs from field to field.
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Consider Your Own Educational Needs and Professional Development
When thinking about your own professional development, there are several considerations in an education environment that is rife with options:
- Consider your professional needs right now – Do you have the skillsets needed to remain competitive in your current position?
- Consider your professional needs for the future – Given the direction your field is taking, is there any additional education that can help you adapt to a changing environment?
- Reflect on your personal goals for the future – Do you have any life pursuits that you’ve been putting off? When you reflect on your future self, what kind of expertise will you have?
As you begin to think about different educational paths, think about your interests and how different programs can benefit you. What fascinates you? How might your team or network be able to help you? What credentials do they have, and what advice do they have to give?
About the Author
Dr. Nicole Drumhiller, Ph.D., CTM, is a Certified Threat Manager and is the Associate Dean of the School of Security and Global Studies at American Military University. Nicole teaches courses in analysis, leadership profiling, deception and propaganda. Her research interests include threat management, group and leadership psychology, and extremist studies.
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