Dickinson’s certificate program in security studies exemplifies the college’s commitment to providing students with a globally oriented, useful education that is relevant to today’s culture. Students in security studies will focus on international relations theory, U.S. foreign policy, U.S. national security policy and strategy as well as transnational issues and the concerns of other countries or regions. Leveraging Dickinson’s strength in active learning, certificate seekers have the opportunity for independent study and all students will participate in a senior seminar capstone course. Dickinson’s certificate in security studies will benefit students who are simply curious about the world around them as well as those pursuing careers in a variety of fields ranging from foreign affairs and economics to the military and the environmental sciences.

At Dickinson, we who contribute to the Security Studies Certificate Program identify security studies with the issues that tend to capture the attention of those engaged in the defense, intelligence, and diplomatic communities. In our minds, it entails two major areas for exploration. The first is primarily U.S.-centric and involves the study of the formulation and implementation of U.S. national security strategy; domestic institutional structures such as the National Security Council or the Department of Homeland Security; overarching concerns such as civilian-military relations, just-war theory, or adherence by U.S. soldiers to the Geneva Conventions; and the effectiveness of U.S. foreign policy. The second casts a wider net, and examines instability and conflict in various parts of the world, systemic level threats, and regional and international policy structures and initiatives.

Our perception of security studies reflects our understanding of historical experience and of the current forces at play in the global system. It has long been the case that leaders have had responsibility for articulating the national interests of their respective countries and for shaping grand strategy in pursuit of national interests. Leaders have also had responsibility for identifying both imminent and remote threats to national interests and for implementing policies to neutralize perceived threats. 

Over the past two decades, the people of the world have become more interdependent and the structure of the global system has changed. As a byproduct of those developments, the nature of threats to the national interests of each country has become more complex. Furthermore, some threats tend to cross national boundaries and encompass the well-being of all human beings. Thus, the list of immediate and longer-term threats to the national interests of the United States or of other countries now includes interstate conflicts, civil wars marked by genocide, abuses of human rights, attacks on civilian populations by terrorist organizations, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global pandemics, and the catastrophic effects of global climate change. The changing nature of threats makes things more difficult for leaders, who must shape a response via some combination of diplomatic, economic, military, and informational instruments of power.

In light of those developments, we believe that the Dickinson Certificate Program in Security Studies gives students from a range of disciplines an opportunity to explore an area of increasing relevance. We also believe it has some unique features.

  • It is consistent with the college’s mission statement of a useful education within a contemporary context; indeed, one might argue that a liberal education of the type provided at Dickinson will be of increasing value to those who hope to make their contribution to society in the national security arena.
  • It draws upon both the internal strengths of Dickinson and as well the relationships that the college has with the United States Army War College and its sister institution at Carlisle Barracks, the United States Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute; and with the Pennsylvania State University School of International Affairs.


Contact Info


Shamma AlamAssociate Professor of International Studies

Department Coordinator

Sarah VelezAcademic Department Coordinator






Althouse 118, Althouse Hall Mailing Address