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Notre Dame College Security Policy Graduates Present Research Findings to Terrorism Experts

Notre Dame College students are setting the standard for how intelligence agencies understand and exploit social media in analyzing international security incidents─and they are sharing their best practices with regional terrorism and criminal justice experts.

Seven master’s degree candidates in security policy studies─all in the inaugural graduating class of the College program─are presenting the findings from their 16-week capstone project to the Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center. The Center is an inter-agency information sharing initiative of the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Department of Justice.

“The extensive analysis and innovative recommendations made by this first cohort in their capstone project and presentation to the Fusion Center immediately place them at the forefront of their field,” said John Hatzadony, Ph.D., assistant professor of intelligence studies and director of the graduate program in security policy studies. “The work students are doing in this master’s degree program is so relevant, we cannot share details of the findings because their research involves sensitive information for the Fusion Center.”

The M.A. candidates, who graduate May 4, have spent the semester analyzing incidents ranging from the series of three coordinated bomb explosions at different locations in Mumbai, India, in 2011, to the two bombs recently detonated at the end of the Boston Marathon.

The group has outlined innovative procedures and best practices for how intelligence agencies collect and filter social media in the wake of terrorist incidents─and even natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina.

Students who participated in the research project and presentation and are the first to graduate from the College with the master’s degree in security policy studies are: Stephanie Barnes, Akif Eren, Brian Lemasters, Izolda Masic, Amy Poklar, Patrick Thomas and Brandon Vallee.

The students’ capstone project developed out of Hatzadony’s participation with the Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center’s .edu Consortium, an academic advisory board consisting of faculty from Notre Dame, Baldwin-Wallace University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Akron, Kent State University and Heidelberg College.

Notre Dame is the only institution in the country offering a security policy program of study as a Master of Arts, not a Master of Science, due to its focus on research, analysis and leadership training. The degree in security policy studies at the College is offered in a hybrid format with online courses and three on-campus seminars.  Students in the program have or currently represent a broad range of security professionals from local, state and federal law enforcement; the Defense Department; the State Department; and others.

Faculty members include academic experts, as well as former professionals like Hatzadony, who previously served as an analyst for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In addition to offering one of the few master’s level programs in the nation with a focus on security policy, Notre Dame also is home to the Center for Intelligence Studies. The center educates intelligence analysts and security professionals to assess and manage information dealing with critical issues such as international terrorism and critical infrastructure protection. 

The Center is under the leadership of Gregory Moore, Ph.D., who like Hatzadony, is a recognized expert in the field of terrorism, national and global security, and Kelley Cronin, Ph.D., who directs the criminal justice program at the College.

In addition to the master’s degree, Notre Dame also offers graduate certificates in biodefense, science and technology security analysis; transnational threat analysis; terrorism and critical infrastructure analysis; and strategic intelligence and risk assessment analysis.