Preparedness

Program Provides an Avenue for Young Public Safety Workforce to Shape the Profession

Emergence Program offers advanced theory on the evolving issues in homeland security and public safety.

by Jim McKay / August 9, 2018
In this Sept. 16, 2001, file photo, smoke from the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center billows over the skyline of Lower Manhattan, silhouetting the Woolworth Building, center. The Brooklyn Bridge, right, stretches across the East River. AP/Mark Lennihan

The nature of homeland security and public safety is ever evolving, and predictions of what will be the vital issues in 10 to 20 years may not be reliable. But having a homeland security/public safety workforce that understands that and how to think in evolving times is vital.

That is the thinking that goes into The Emergence Program, an educational forum for homeland security and public safety officials who are relatively early in their careers. The program is offered by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and consists of two, one-week sessions onsite, as well as some preparatory study and interaction. It’s aimed at professionals with “not more than” two to eight years’ total work experience.

The idea of the program isn’t to shape the learning of these young professionals but to convene a cohort of 32 professionals from different and diverse backgrounds and facilitate discussions about how to operate in an ever-changing world.

Technology, humanity and the planet are all changing rapidly, even faster than we can keep up and the upcoming workforce is charged with understanding how to operate under these circumstances and is well-equipped, according to Glen Woodbury, director of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School.

“It’s less about telling them what the future will be. I don’t think we’re capable of that anymore,” Woodbury said. “But what we can do is teach ourselves how to think and process and lead. ‘This is where artificial intelligence is going, this is where unmanned systems are going, and this is how you lead in that environment.’”

The program provides attendees advanced theories in leadership, management and world affairs that public safety officials typically get later in their careers, Woodbury said.

“We realized most folks start with essential training, not that training is bad, but they don’t get exposed to dealing with the advanced issues they are going to face throughout their careers,” he said. “We asked ourselves why. Why not introduce people who are just entering the workforce to these concepts and frameworks?”
The program’s objectives include:

•    Enhance the next generation of homeland security leaders’ understanding of the homeland security discipline and emergency trends.
•    Facilitate participants’ homeland security perspectives and what they view as opportunities for change and contributions their generation can make to the evolving discipline.
•    Emphasize and enhance critical inquiry, analysis and evidence-based research to understand complex problems and to develop and implement new ideas.
•    Develop and explore strategies for success in a changing work environment.
•    Inspire participants to a career in homeland security/public safety.
Heather Issvoran, director of strategic communications for the Naval Postgraduate School, said the program seeks to facilitate critical thinking first and then create innovation and implementation of those ideas.

“One of the goals of the program is to get them to think more critically but also help them understand how to present a creative idea to their leadership and to present innovation in a way that their leadership will understand and perhaps adopt,” she said.

Woodbury thinks the upcoming workforce is capable of a better grasp of the issues of the future than the veterans in the field. He said their thought process is not “calcified” by experience and they can be more openminded than more established personnel.

“They are more social and interactive with 10, 20 people at a time,” Woodbury said. “I can do that too, but I’m still framed by my biases and how human beings interact. They’re learning how to interact in technology in an advanced way that draws many more people and in ways they can connect on their own levels.”

He said as the upper echelon of public safety and homeland workers retire, it provides an opportunity for younger professionals to shape the way in which they work and collaborate with other professionals. “This is an opportunity for that workforce that is coming up to replace us and not learn and manage the same way we did.”