College Introduces Undergraduate Security Studies Courses

Photo of a female zombie holding lit sticks of dynamite.

Want to protect the world from Zombies or other security threats?

The College of Criminal Justice is introducing two undergraduate courses in Homeland Security Studies this fall: “Contemporary Issues Security Studies” and “Zombies and Homeland Security.” These primers in the growing field of security studies are designed to introduce students to security threats, such as terrorist attacks, pandemics, climate change, and natural disasters, as well as the public and private agencies that prevent and respond to the issues.

Dr. Russell Lundberg
Dr. Russell Lundberg
“America's view of the world changed on Sept. 11th, 2001,” said Dr. Russell Lundberg, a new faculty member in the Department of Security Studies. “The terrorist attacks that day were brutal, and invited a strong response, with two wars, on-going military and intelligence activities, and the largest restructuring of the government bureaucracy since World War II. But more so, it shook America's psyche, raising questions about what America is and should be, issues of torture, surveillance, and civil rights.”

Contemporary Issues in Security Studies (Security Studies 4377) will provide an overview of the field that covers both government and private industries that protect the public and companies from threats of all kinds. Among the topics covered are surveys, threats, and challenges from terrorist attacks to pandemics to climate change. The course is available Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:30 – 2:50 p.m.

Photo of a hurricane lashing houses on the coast in Puerto Rico.Homeland security deals with more than just terrorism, as evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005. Dr. Lundberg worked on the government review of the response to the natural disaster, which for him was summed up in a statement by a disaster modeler from the Federal Emergency Management Agency: “Mother Nature is the biggest terrorist of all.”

Although terrorist attacks are rare and kill fewer people than car accidents or cancer, they generate the most fear among the American public. The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to 9/11 and had a focus on terrorist events, but also needed to address other critical issues facing society, including immigration and customs, assistance in coastal waterways, cybersecurity, and natural disasters.

A collage of words describing terrorism.The course will examine the multi-disciplinary response in the emerging field of homeland security education. The introductory course will cover the historical, present, and current threats in the field and how we deal with them.

Special Topics: Zombies and Homeland Security (Security Studies 4377) will examine security threats, especially pandemics and how to make society more resilient. Taught by Dr. Nathan Jones, another new faculty member in the Department of Security Studies, the course is available 3:00 to 4:20pm on Mondays and Wednesdays

Dr. Nathan Jones.
Dr. Nathan Jones
“I borrowed the idea from the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security,” said Dr. Jones. “They found that whenever zombie apocalypse came up in social media, people would pay attention. So instead of promoting hurricane preparedness, they said to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse and you’d be ready for a hurricane.”

“As Max Brooks argues, Zombies are a metaphor for the things we fear, such as pandemics, terrorism, and natural disasters,” Dr. Jones said. “We are afraid of things that can shut down all services, which is what makes dramas such as the Walking Dead so compelling and is ultimately what the Homeland Security apparatus is designed to respond to.”

Doctors wearing protective suits.Dr. Jones will use several books on homeland security in his class.

Sam Houston State University offers a Master’s degree in Homeland Security Studies as well as certificate programs in crisis management and critical infrastructure protection.

Member of The Texas State University System