Students will gain real-world security experience through mock scenarios
While students are away from campus on Christmas break, a “Situation Room” will be installed in the History and Political Science Department.
AU’s new addition will be modeled after the Situation Room located in the White House. The room will allow national security studies and information security majors the opportunity to simulate the procedures that accompany a national crisis situation.
The Situation Room project was made possible by a donation from an anonymous alumni to the university.
Dr. Michael Frank, professor of political science, says that the Situation Room will give students studying to become national security professionals the practical, real-world experience necessary to succeed in their field.
“A standard simulation would involve students in the class adopting the roles of people on the National Security Council and being presented with a crisis, and reaching a decision in order to inform the president,” says Frank.
Much like the real Situation Room run by the National Security Council in the West Wing of the White House, this room will include a conference table and multiple television monitors. Students, adopting the roles of the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence and other positions, will be able to project and refer to maps, video and other reference material on the monitors.
“I ran a similar simulation with one of my classes last year,” says Frank. “The simulation that we used comes from the Council of Foreign Relations, and was about whether we should use enhanced interrogation techniques on a terrorist detainee.”
The crises discussed in AU’s Situation Room will reflect the types of situations that national security studies majors could be expected to address in their future careers. In addition, Frank says that the technology to be installed will allow for easier video conferencing with national security and information security professionals.
“We’ve brought a lot of these professionals on campus, but instead of having them take a day or more to fly out and have to fly back, we will have the ability to ask them to take just 30 minutes for a class,” says Frank. “It’s a way to bring that outside expertise into the classroom that is a real benefit to those national security and information security students.”
Frank hopes to invite national security professionals from Indianapolis, Washington, D.C. and even overseas to contribute their knowledge and advice to the class sessions through video conferencing.
Currently, there are approximately 30 students involved in the national security studies and information security majors combined. As this is the first year the two majors have officially been offered, the majors are primarily composed of freshmen students, who will benefit from the Situation Room simulations throughout their college careers. It is likely that some upper-division classes, such as intelligence studies, will be meeting regularly in the Situation Room.
Dr. Frank asserts that experience is key to success in the national security and information security fields.
“Many of the students in the national security major have the desire to work in one of the 17 intelligence agencies in Washington, D.C., such as the CIA or the FBI,” says Frank. “But you don’t necessarily start out there. The average age of people in the FBI Academy is 30 years old.
A lot of students have that in mind, but there’s a lot of things prior to that you need to do to attain those goals.”
The History and Political Science department is working to get students the real-world experience necessary to land their dream jobs by building strong relationships with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and think tanks such as the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis. The Situation Room is just one way for students to prepare for the future ahead.
“If you’re in education, you get practical experience teaching. If you’re in nursing, you get practical experience doing clinicals,” says Frank. “If you’re a national security major, where are you going to get that real experience? Simulations are essential to allow students to have some experience, so that’s why it is built into our coursework for those majors.”
The History and Political Science department will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Situation Room at the beginning of the spring semester. The project is set to open soon after the end of Christmas break.