William V. Pelfrey, Ph.D.
Associate professor and program chair

Emergency preparedness has always been a critical aspect of governmental policy at the federal, state and local levels. Response to natural disasters — floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, outbreak of infectious disease — requires predisaster planning, mid-disaster operations and postdisaster reconstruction that can only be carried out successfully through a partnership between all levels of government and between the public sector, private sector and civil society. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania the concept of emergency preparedness has been expanded to include the task of homeland security — protecting the U.S. from terrorist-caused disasters. Policy planners and operational responders at all levels of government who had previously focused upon natural disasters now have the added responsibility of preparing for and mitigating the effects of politically inspired terrorist violence.

The program in homeland security and emergency preparedness recognizes this dual nature and is designed to give students both theoretical and practical knowledge that will prepare them for the following: 1) private- or public-sector employment in the expanding area of homeland security as it relates specifically to international and domestic security, as well as emergency preparedness for both security and nonsecurity-related incidents and/or 2) further study in government, international affairs, law enforcement, policy planning or law.

Students will study homeland security and emergency preparedness from a number of perspectives: emergency planning/management principles and practicalities; the nature and effects of natural disasters; the nature of the terrorist threat to the U.S. from both foreign and domestic organizations, including terrorist motives, methods and history; counterterrorism policies ranging from law enforcement to intelligence to the use of military force; vulnerability assessment of public and private infrastructure and institutions; critical infrastructure protection; ethical, constitutional, law enforcement and civil liberties issues related to the prevention of terrorist attacks through surveillance, immigration restrictions and detention; public safety legal questions that arise during governmental responses to natural disaster; intelligence analysis of domestic and international threats; and policy-making topics, such as organizational design and management, interagency processes, and intergovernmental coordination and cooperation within emergency preparedness and counterterrorism institutions at the local, state, federal and international level.

The knowledge and skills acquired through this course of study will enable students to continue their studies at law school or graduate school in a number of areas: business, criminal justice, geography, international affairs, political science, public administration, sociology and urban planning. Students also will be able to pursue employment opportunities in various fields, such as within the government at the local, state and federal level in homeland security and emergency planning/response; law enforcement; intelligence; for-profit and nonprofit research and consultancy; and private sector employment with any business that requires emergency planning expertise to protect critical infrastructure.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  • Analytical concepts and skills
    Students will achieve comprehension of the theory and practice of homeland security and emergency preparedness and be able to analyze policy and synthesize information in four key areas: risk and vulnerability analysis, strategic planning dilemmas of disasters and disaster preparedness, institutional coordination and intelligence operations, and legal/constitutional aspects, specifically:
    • Concepts and methodologies for risk and vulnerability assessment of public and private infrastructure and institutions to natural disasters and terrorist attack (HSEP 310)
    • Critical infrastructure protection against natural disasters and terrorist attacks (HSEP 310)
    • Strategic planning within private and public sector organizations within the context of the new homeland security and emergency preparedness agendas (HSEP 311)
    • Government common goods priorities and free rider problems (HSEP 311)
    • Business and government continuity measures (HSEP 311)
    • Intelligence analysis of domestic and international threats (HSEP 320)
    • Policy making topics such as organizational design and management, interagency processes, and intergovernmental coordination and cooperation within counterterrorism and emergency management institutions at the local, state, federal, and international level (HSEP 320)
    • Ethical, constitutional, law enforcement, and civil liberties issues related to prevention of terrorist attacks through surveillance, immigration restrictions, and detention (HSEP 330)
    • Ethical, constitutional, law enforcement, and civil liberties issues related to arrest and prosecution of terrorist suspects (HSEP 330)
    • public safety legal questions that arise during governmental responses to natural disaster (HSEP 330)
  • Homeland security and emergency preparedness
    Students will achieve comprehension of the theoretical and practical principles of emergency preparedness for both natural disasters and terrorist incidents and be able to analyze key topics related to natural disasters, emergency planning, terrorism, and counterterrorism, specifically:
    • Emergency planning/management principles and practicalities for an all-hazard approach to emergency preparedness (HSEP 101HSEP 302)
    • The nature and effects of natural disasters — emerging diseases, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, for example (HSEP 101HSEP 302)
    • The nature of the terrorist threat to the United States from both foreign and domestic organizations, including terrorist motives, methods, and history (HSEP 301)
    • Counterterrorism policies ranging from law enforcement to intelligence to the use of military force (HSEP 301)
  • Research and policy analysis
    Students will perform research, policy analysis, and risk assessment using several methodological and theoretical approaches to homeland security and emergency preparedness, specifically:
  • Knowledge of government
    Students will demonstrate a basic knowledge of the workings of the American government and the international system, specifically:
    • The functions of American national institutions, state, and local institutions (POLI 103)
    • International institutions, the behavior of nations states, international political, social, military, and economic trends (POLI 105)
  • Oral and written presentation
    Students will develop advanced skills in expository writing and oral presentation, specifically:
    • Completion of a large project outlining, evaluating, and illustrating the dilemmas facing emergency management officials in preparation for a to a role playing simulation (HSEP 490)
    • Writing an executive summary (HSEP 490)
    • Presenting an oral briefing (HSEP 301HSEP 490)
  • Role-playing simulation
    Students will participate in a role playing simulation and be able to evaluate policy problems they face and develop policy responses, specifically:
    • Preparation for and participation in a role playing simulation of an emergency situation (HSEP 490)
  • Evaluation
    Students will also be able to evaluate scholarly and practitioner analyses of homeland security and emergency preparedness, specifically:
    • Written and oral evaluation of several books/reports on homeland security and emergency preparedness (HSEP 490)

Collateral requirements

In addition to the homeland security and emergency preparedness courses required for the Bachelor of Arts degree, students must complete the study of a foreign language through the intermediate level (202 or 205) through courses or placement. As a prerequisite for HSEP 310, STAT 210 should be used to fulfill general education requirements for statistics.

Honors in homeland security and emergency preparedness

Homeland security and emergency preparedness majors can earn honors within the program by completing HSEP 490 with an A grade and graduating with an overall 3.0 GPA and a 3.3 GPA in courses credited toward the 36 credits of the homeland security and emergency preparedness major.

 

Special requirements

Students must earn a total of 45 credits in classes at the 300-level and above, including upper-level criminal justice course work. To graduate from the homeland security and emergency preparedness program, students must have a cumulative and major GPA of 2.0. The homeland security and emergency preparedness curriculum includes the core and major elective requirements.

Degree requirements for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

General Education requirements

University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV 200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
Additional General Education requirements
HUMS 202Choices in a Consumer Society1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities3
Select six to eight credits of approved H&S general education electives6-8
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)
Experiential fine arts (course offered by the School of the Arts)1-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement)0-8
Total Hours11-23

Collateral requirements

STAT 210Basic Practice of Statistics3
Foreign language through the 202 level (by course or placement)0-6
Total Hours3-9

Major requirements

POLI 103U.S. Government (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)3
POLI 105International Relations (fulfills approved diverse and global communities)3
HSEP 101Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness3
HSEP 301/POLI 367Terrorism3
HSEP 302Emergency Planning and Incident Management3
HSEP 310Risk and Vulnerability Assessment3
HSEP 311Strategic Planning for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness3
HSEP 320The Intelligence Community and the Intelligence Process3
HSEP 330Legal and Constitutional Issues in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness3
HSEP 490Senior Seminar3
Homeland security and emergency preparedness electives (Any 300- or 400-level HSEP course and/or courses taken from the list of approved electives below)6
Total Hours36

Open electives

Select 39-58 open electives39-58

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

Approved homeland security and emergency preparedness electives

CRJS 300Forensic Criminology3
CRJS 320Principles of Criminal Investigation3
CRJS 370Criminalistics and Crime Analysis3
CRJS 373Crime Scene Evidence: Law and Trial Procedure3
CRJS 463Comparative Criminal Justice Systems3
CRJS 475Criminal Procedure3
FIRE 306Regulatory Aspects of Safety and Risk Control3
FIRE 307System Safety3
FIRE 308Incident Investigation and Analysis3
FIRE 309Risk and Insurance3
FIRE 359Issues in Risk Management and Insurance3
GVPA 493Government and Public Affairs Internship1-6
POLI 310Public Policy3
POLI 322State and Local Government and Politics3
POLI 329Intergovernmental Relations3
POLI/INTL 351Governments and Politics of the Middle East3
POLI/INTL 353Latin American Governments and Politics3
POLI/INTL 362International Organizations and Institutions3
POLI/INTL 363U.S. Foreign Policy3
URSP 310Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning3
URSP/ENVS 332Environmental Management3
URSP 413Policy Implementation3
URSP/ENVS 521Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
HSEP 101 Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness 3
POLI 103 U.S. Government (fulfills approved human, social and political behavior) 3
UNIV 101 Introduction to the University 1
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
Approved quantitative literacy 3-4
Foreign language (101 level) 4
 Term Hours: 17-18
Spring semester
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
POLI 105 International Relations (fulfills approved diverse and global communities) 3
STAT 210 Basic Practice of Statistics 3
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
Approved science and technology 3-4
Foreign language (102 level) 4
 Term Hours: 17-18
Sophomore year
Fall semester
HSEP 301
Terrorism
or Terrorism
3
HSEP 302 Emergency Planning and Incident Management 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved literature and civilization 3
Foreign language (201 level) 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
HSEP 310 Risk and Vulnerability Assessment 3
Approved General Education electives 6-8
Experiential fine arts 1-3
Foreign language (202 level) 3
 Term Hours: 13-17
Junior year
Fall semester
HSEP 311 Strategic Planning for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness 3
HSEP 320 The Intelligence Community and the Intelligence Process 3
Open electives 7
 Term Hours: 13
Spring semester
Homeland security and emergency preparedness electives 6
Open electives 9
 Term Hours: 15
Senior year
Fall semester
HSEP 330 Legal and Constitutional Issues in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness 3
Open electives 12
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
HSEP 490 Senior Seminar 3
Open electives 12
 Term Hours: 15
 Total Hours: 120-126

HSEP 101. Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An introduction to the public- and private-sector dimensions of the broad range of theoretical and practical aspects of homeland security and emergency preparedness, including: origins of natural and terrorist-caused disasters; local, state and federal emergency management planning and operations; health infrastructure capabilities; public communication strategies; business community concerns; ethical, legal and constitutional questions; as well as the social and psychological dimensions of disasters.

HSEP 301. Terrorism. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: HSEP 101, POLI 103 and INTL 105/POLI 105, or permission of instructor. A survey of the modern problem of terrorism with an emphasis on the political nature of terrorist acts. Examines the history of terrorism, domestically within the U.S. and internationally, the role of religion, the structures and operations of terrorist organizations, as well as counterterrorism policies and policy-making. Crosslisted as: POLI 367.

HSEP 302. Emergency Planning and Incident Management. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: HSEP 101, POLI 103 and INTL 105/POLI 105, or permission of instructor. An introduction to the basic tasks of emergency preparedness and disaster mitigation, including planning, response and recovery. Special emphasis will be placed on command arrangements, coordination and budgetary issues among emergency responders (law enforcement, firefighters and health care system officials), and within and between federal, state and local governments.

HSEP 310. Risk and Vulnerability Assessment. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: STAT 210, CRJS 367/HSEP 301/POLI 367 and CRJS 368/HSEP 302, or permission of instructor. An introduction to analytical techniques and methodologies for threat and vulnerability assessment of various types of public and private infrastructure. An all-hazard approach is employed, considering natural disaster, system failure and terrorist attack (conventional or weapons of mass destruction). Special attention will be focused on critical infrastructure protection as well as cyberterrorism.

HSEP 311. Strategic Planning for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CRJS 367/HSEP 301/POLI 367 and CRJS 368/HSEP 302, or permission of instructor. An examination of the strategic planning for emergency preparedness, operations and recovery for all hazards, as well as terrorist-prevention security measures. The course will focus on public goods/free rider issues, setting organizational priorities, governmental budgeting choices, legal aspects of government regulation of infrastructure and business community security concerns.

HSEP 320. The Intelligence Community and the Intelligence Process. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: HSEP 301/POLI 367 and HSEP 302, or permission of instructor. An examination of the concepts of and challenges for state, local and federal policy making and organization for homeland security and emergency preparedness. The intelligence process — the collection, analysis, sharing and dissemination of information within and between local, state and federal governmental agencies — is a special focus.

HSEP 330. Legal and Constitutional Issues in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: HSEP 301/POLI 367 and HSEP 302, or permission of instructor. An analysis of the legal and civil liberties changes and challenges brought on by terrorist attacks. Topics addressed may include surveillance issues, federal legislation passed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the rights of foreign nationals, the rights of U.S. citizens, the governmental infrastructure for decisions concerning legal rights and the difficulties of prosecuting terrorist suspects, such as jurisdictional issues, rules of evidence and prosecution strategies.

HSEP 360. Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resiliency. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: HSEP 310. An advanced study of homeland security critical infrastructure protection and resiliency from an all-hazards perspective. Develops an understanding of the policy, strategy and practical application of critical infrastructure protection and resiliency issues. Special emphasis on understanding the strategic context presented by the 21st-century risk environment, DHS critical infrastructure sectors, and the challenges and opportunities.

HSEP 391. Topics in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Maximum total of six credits in all departmental topics courses may be applied to the major. Prerequisites: CRJS 367/HSEP 301/POLI 367 and CRJS 368/HSEP 302. An intensive focus on a specialized field of interest to the study of homeland security and emergency preparedness. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester.

HSEP 490. Senior Seminar. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: HSEP 310, HSEP 311, HSEP 320/CRJS 375 and HSEP 330/CRJS 330. A capstone course examining the major issues related to homeland security and emergency preparedness. Students will be required to produce a research project related to a role-playing in-class simulation of an emergency situation that will include exercises in red-teaming.

HSEP 491. Advanced Topics in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CRJS 367/HSEP 301/POLI 367 and CRJS 368/HSEP 302. An intensive focus on a specialized field of interest to the study of homeland security and emergency preparedness within a seminar setting. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester. Maximum total of six credits in all departmental topics courses may be applied to the major.

HSEP 492. Independent Study. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; 1-4 credits. Maximum total of six credits in all independent study courses may be applied to the major. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing with 12 credits in HSEP courses. Permission of instructor or program director required, with determination of course credit value prior to registration. An independent study that allows students to perform research under the direction of qualified instructor in a subject or field of major interest.