A good, broad liberal arts background has long been valued for giving depth and richness to students embarking on any career. Now, Georgetown College has developed an interdisciplinary major and minor – Security Studies – that will point them down a number of career paths especially relevant in today’s challenging, uncertain world.

Provost Rosemary Allen particularly likes the Security Studies curriculum because so many faculty members from 13 departments will have a role in an exciting, new program that’s likely to draw and engage students. “There’s nothing else like it – a cross-over of the natural sciences and the social sciences,” Dr. Allen said of the major and minor that will be offered in 2007-08.

The program, which will be coordinated by Political Science professor Michael Cairo and the Political Science and History departments, won’t require new funding either.

In addition to Political Science and History courses, the interdisciplinary major will include courses from the Biology, Chemistry, Communication and Media Studies, Computer Science, Economics, Math, Modern and Classical Languages and Cultures, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology departments.

The interdisciplinary minor will include courses from Economics, Psychology, and Sociology departments.

Dr. Cairo spent about a year researching college programs around the country that deal with international studies, security, and peace and conflict issues. He was also one of 15 chosen for a Peace & Security From Multiple Perspectives seminar this past summer at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington D.C.

“All of these things are reflected in our new major,” said Cairo, who is also advisor to the college’s Model United Nations organization.

“(Students) need to understand the trends and forces that are challenging us – that are causing conflict – if we want to resolve problems in the world; if we want to be peace-makers,” he added.

Mathematics professor Homer White, who would eventually like to see traditional Peace Studies added to the curriculum, has written that Georgetown’s Security Studies is “a good start.”

White, Director of Georgetown’s Academic Honors Program, also said in an e-mail, “Whereas a Homeland Security major usually presupposes a certain set of responses to threats (“double up the guard”) and to attacks (pursuit and enforcement, even war), a Security Studies major need not presuppose the response. In particular, preventative measures such as working for economic development, steps to prevent environmental crises and their resulting social and economic dislocations, cross-cultural education, inter-religious dialog and other non-violent measures are all kept on the table as options by a well-conceived liberal arts approach to Security Studies.”

Students will have to choose a track (at least 12 hours) such as Biology, which would include the study of environmental challenges like nuclear waste and oil supplies. Biology professor Mark Johnson said of one of the required courses, “In Micro-Biology, we talk about a lot of ‘select agents’ such as viruses, toxins…the anthrax scare of 2001…and anything transmitted in an airborne manner.

“The element of fear is certainly a part of the picture,” Johnson continued. “But, we study what you would treat these threats with – whether it be cholera or botulism. Knowledge is power and I’d think a potential employer would appreciate a program where the courses will complement each other.”

Cairo added, “Industries are increasingly interested in individuals who understand economics, technology and science, and the challenges and risks they impose to security.

“We need to understand that security is about more than force,” Cairo said. “We also have to understand politics, history, and culture.”

History professor Cliff Wargelin, who gave input to Cairo’s research, said, “Security Studies is a way for students to apply historical perspectives to contemporary issues.”

Cairo is especially pleased that this rigorous Security Studies “feeds wonderfully” into Georgetown College’s University Scholars program and would prepare them for a seamless transition into the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School for Diplomacy and International Commerce, a graduate program with which the College is partnered.

“Studying the natural and social sciences in this interdisciplinary manner will provide this generation (of student) and those generations afterward a solid base of knowledge and a better understanding of the challenges we face.”