Current SRA Undergraduate Courses

SRA 211 – Threat of Terrorism and Crime

Threat of Terrorism and Crime is a course designed to acquaint students with the security threats posed by both terrorist and criminal activity, and with strategies to combat these threats. Terrorism and security are defined as well as terrorism in its historical context. Varieties of terrorist groups, organizations and their actions are studied with targets of terrorism being a focus. Types of crime including street, employee, organized and white collar crime are studied.

Information theft can occur in each of the types of crime. Security threats of each type are studied and mitigation techniques are evaluated. Methods of studying terrorism and crime cover data collection, analysis of the reliability of the data, and fusing the data so that information is obtained that leads to knowledge to combat terrorism and crime.

Finally to put the course in perspective, students study critical shortfalls in our understanding of terrorism and crime including unreliable data, biased estimates and a lack of understanding of terrorist and criminal motives and objectives.

SRA397A – Crisis Informatics

In this course we will be examining how information and communication technologies have played a role in saving lives—specifically in the areas of technologies used toward emergency response and disaster response. In this class we will focus on technologies that have impacted the organizations and workers seeking to directly aid the survivors of a disaster or emergency.

This course explores the inter-connectedness of information, people, and technologies in a crisis. In particular, it examines how information is managed, organized, coordinated, and disseminated during a crisis; it analyzes information needs and seeking behaviors during a crisis, and explores how information and communication technologies can support communities in a crisis. Students reflect on lessons learned from past crises, and develop strategies to manage future crises. This course will equip students with the knowledge and skills to enable them to be key players in crisis response.

Course Objectives

  • Understand the importance of information in crisis response
  • Explore the inter-connectedness of information, people and technology in a crisis
  • Analyze complex information needs and information seeking in a crisis
  • Gain an understanding of the factors that impact the integration and coordination of information in a crisis
  • Explore the needs of different actors in a crisis

The course will be taught in a small seminar style. Each week three major topics will be discussed. First, the class will discuss the technologies used well and not-so-well during a recent emergency or disaster. Secondly, each week the class will analyze a recent technology specifically developed for emergency response. Lastly, the class with review the words of experts on the topic of the week. Each class member will be expected to contribute to a whole-class blog. Each student will also engage in a whole-semester project in which they will develop, design or re-purpose a technology for use in crisis response.

This course is aimed at a variety of students. Simply stated, the perfect student is one who believes that technologies have the power to change the way the world responds to crises. Some students who take this class will seek to directly work in the field of crisis response. Some will seek work with the United Nations, the military, policing or health responders, or aid organizations. Other students might be interested in the issue from the technology design and development point of view, seeking to design applications and software to employ during times of crises. The perfect student will come with a significant comfort level with Internet technologies, but not necessarily programming ability. The course will be taught from a social science and design perspective.

SRA 471 – Informatics, Risk, and the Post-Modern World

The post-modern world provides a changing climate and context for defining and understanding threats, intelligence, decisions, and risk. Likewise, post-modern cultures consist of beliefs that are heavily influenced by psychology, social connectivity, collective behavior, religion, ethnicity, and political systems. This system of systems is heavily dependent upon and influenced by information, information technology, and the web (social informatics). When examining human behavior as it impacts risk, these various social-technical factors must be considered in planning for terrorism, intelligence analysis, and emergency events.

As the post-modern world becomes increasingly complicated, the ability to discern, identify, and address threats in terms of risk becomes exceedingly more difficult. Provision of learning underlying psychological, social, political, religious, and technical components of how risk accelerates through various stages will be critical for protection of national and international interests within the security sphere. Security informatics will be at the heart of both recognizing emerging situations and employing tools/agents/measures to assuage emergency, terrorist, or even national disaster events.

This course provides the student with a broad perspective to critically examine both theories and practice of security informatics as related to the cultures in which threats emerge asymmetrically. Students will be placed on the role of systems analysts to problem solve and analyze information from a broad bandwidth of information specifically as informed by culture, post-modern thought, psychological intent, and situation awareness. The course will be grounded by participation in case studies and/or analyzing exercises of risk. Students will be required to do comprehensive reading assignments, engage in team cognition-social interaction, and become familiar with social informatics concepts and tools as related to risk, terrorism, and information warfare.

As the post-modern world becomes increasingly complicated, the ability to discern, identify, and address threats in terms of risk becomes exceedingly more difficult. Provision of understanding some of the underlying psychological, social, political, religious, and technical components of how risk accelerates through various stages will be critical for protection of national and international interests within the security sphere. As extreme events become more prevalent in society, security informatics will be at the heart of both recognizing emerging situations and employing tools/agents to assuage emergency, terrorist, or even national disaster events.