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Dornsife Minor Human Security

New USC Dornsife minor in human security

February 6, 2017 9:55 pm

How often do you think about human security?

Natural disasters—earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods—can threaten human security. Human actions such as terrorism, humanitarian crises, and warfare can also threaten human security. As our global society becomes more interrelated, government agencies, scholars and international decision makers must have the ability to quickly evaluate and act to provide humanitarian aid in a crisis situation.

Retired Gen. David Petraeus, a Judge Widney Professor at USC and former CIA director, visited the University Park Campus this month for a number of events, including a roundtable discussion focused on geospatial intelligence (GEOINT). GEOINT has a role in optimizing human security. Steven Lamy, Vice Dean for Academic Programs and professor of International Relations, joined the discussion, along with Michael Orosz, assistant director of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Information Sciences Institute. Retired Col. Steven Fleming, professor of the practice of spatial sciences, was also present.

GEOINT is data about human activity on earth that is derived from the analysis of maps, imagery and other location-specific information. It has become progressively significant in terms of national security and for global humanitarian, public health, and disaster response efforts.

“GEOINT is enabling a true transformation in how we are fighting terrorists around the world,” Petraeus said. “This is revolutionary stuff.”

Putting learning to use

To respond to this phenomenon, the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences launched a new interdisciplinary minor in human security and geospatial intelligence this fall.

The program is tailored to educate future leaders in location-based analytics and supply a framework for students wanting to learn how to create geospatial solutions to global issues.

“We wanted to create a major or minor in something that undergraduates could use right out of the blocks in their professional world,” said Fleming, one of the key developers of the minor program.

The minor pairs well with majors in international relations, political science, environmental studies, majors studying global regions and geodesign. It is also applicable to cadets of various majors in USC’s ROTC commands.

Fleming, who served for 30 years as an officer in the U.S. Army, now serves on USC’s military affairs committee. He said that this material will be immediately useful to ROTC students as newly commissioned officers starting their service.

Fleming said the minor will further contextualize many of the global issues for students interested in working at the U.S. State Department or students wishing to round out what they’re learning in other academic majors.

Petraeus praised SSI and the university for its trailblazing academic programs.

“Kudos to SSI, a very impressive initiative at USC,” he said. “It’s another area in which USC is ‘walking point’ for a particular endeavor in the academic world and bringing various disciplines together as well. It’s truly cutting-edge technology.”