A 3-D Balance
Security studies delves into development, diplomacy and defense
by Michelle Simmons
March 9, 2011
Professor Michael Fratantuono (far left) discusses the security-studies program with four of its inaugural students. From left: Sarah Hutson ’11, Meredith Meisenheimer ’11, Jacob Sternberger ’12 and Matthew Hillsberg ’13.
National security has long been the province of military commanders and intelligence analysts. But no more: From the Internet and social networking fomenting revolutions in the Middle East to the potential displacement of millions of people due to global warming, security has become “a subject … that desperately needs to be put in broader context,” according to Neil Weissman, provost and dean of the college.
“People traditionally thought of security as military threats aimed at your state by another state,” says Russell Bova, professor of political science. “We want to broaden the notion of security to this idea of human security—threats not just to states as institutions but threats to individual human beings, and threats that are not simply of the military kind.”
Last spring, Dickinson’s Academic Programming and Standards Committee approved a new security-studies certificate program and a new concentration in the existing international-studies program. Michael Fratantuono, associate professor and chair of international studies, who also taught two years at the neighboring U.S. Army War College, was the lead author of the proposal and coordinator of the program, which began this academic year.
International-studies majors now may choose one of three areas of study: a country or region of specialization; globalization and sustainability; or security studies.
The separate certificate program, which is open to any major, requires seven courses: three core courses, three electives and one senior seminar. Eligible electives hail from disciplines as varied as anthropology, economics, environmental studies, history, religion, political science, sociology and women’s & gender studies.
“The state of the world is partly what is driving things—and a sense by students that gaining insight into these issues regardless of their major is important,” says Fratantuono.
For example, a biology major could use the program to study how a pandemic might affect national security, or “a student studying philosophy may become interested in just-war theory,” he notes. “The whole point is to create an opportunity for students from any major to investigate what security studies means in a liberal-arts context.”
“There are some schools that have programs in homeland security, but they’re fairly technical,” adds Bova, who is a contributing faculty member to the program. “Our core integrates a variety of different classes in the liberal arts. You create a new program, and all of a sudden people have ideas for new courses, or maybe they begin rethinking how they structure existing courses.”
To provide further breadth and depth, Dickinson also has formalized a long-time partnership with the U.S. Army War College. Not only can the program draw on faculty expertise at the War College to round out the curriculum, it offers Dickinson students hands-on internship opportunities at the War College’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute.
“In addition to immersing yourself in studying all about conflict resolution [and] peacekeeping, you’re also surrounded by people who have built their careers around promoting peacekeeping and stability,” says Austin Farneth ’12, an international-studies and Russian double major who is interning there this semester.
“You realize how military ventures are just one facet of security,” he continues. “No matter how many troops you have on the ground, those numbers can never supplant the advantage of ensuring that a country has sufficient infrastructure and resources to provide for its citizens. It’s that element of security that I’m most interested in.”
So far, about a dozen students have taken advantage of the new certificate option. Political-science major Sarah Hutson ’11 spent last summer at partner program The Washington Center in Washington, D.C., interning with the Woodrow Wilson International Center. She will be among Dickinson’s first graduates with the security-studies certificate.
“I had already taken a course in conflict resolution with [Associate Provost] Shalom Staub, and this was a nice way to tie in my interests,” she says, adding that she’s focusing on economic development with the goal of working for a nongovernmental organization. “It’s a rebalancing of the three Ds—development, diplomacy and defense.”
Read Provost and Dean Neil Weissman’s discussion of the security-studies certificate or learn more about the program.