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U.S. Security and Intelligence Studies to Grow at Triangle Universities

October 22, 2014

Programs in security and intelligence studies at four North Carolina universities took a step ahead last week with an award last week to the Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS) from the U.S. Department of Defense. The $1.86 million, five-year grant established TISS as an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence. TISS is a consortium of Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State and NC Central universities, and was founded in 1958.

The award will fund new intelligence-related courses, active learning opportunities and research to give students specialized education and experiences to increase their marketability in the intelligence profession, according to the program’s website.

“The intelligence mission is vital, and the more of our citizens, political leaders and professionals who are able to think about it logically and objectively, the better off we will all be,” said Carolyn Pumphrey, Associate Director of TISS. Pumphrey said the new center will give Duke University and its partners “the opportunity to make sure that a generation of bright young people will think deeply about the role of intelligence and come to understand its complexity and challenges.”

Photo of Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols, visiting associate professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, will lead the center’s activities at Duke. Before joining Duke, Nichols served for more than 20 years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Nichols will teach a new introductory intelligence course at Sanford which will help “add clarity to a profession that is often misunderstood,” he said.

The award also will support the development of upper-level intelligence-focused courses. The first, taught by Christopher Schroeder, Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law and Public Policy, will focus on intelligence, law and privacy. UNC plans to hire a new faculty member in the 2016 academic year.

Photo of Peter FeaverPeter Feaver, director of TISS and Duke’s Program in American Grand Strategy, said, “The curricular impact will be significant, but there will also be important new co-curricular opportunities like speakers, simulations and workshops.” Feaver is a Duke professor of political science and public policy.

“When I arrived here in the early 1990s, Duke was just reaching the end of an era of great strength in the area of military history in particular and security studies more broadly,” Feaver said. “We lost some key people to retirement, however. Recently we began rebuilding a core of people across a range of disciplines to adequately cover these issues.”

Nichols agreed. Within the last decade, he said, “Duke has turned the corner with a strong and growing national security program… Not only at the undergraduate, but also the graduate, level there is strong interest in the national intelligence realm.” Offering a range of introductory to advanced intelligence courses and active learning experiences “is a great way to build a vertical structure for younger students to get exposed to the intelligence community,” Nichols said.

Nichols said his students who pursue intelligence careers often start by taking national security and foreign policy courses, then intern in the intelligence community after junior year, and pursue an entry-level position after graduation.

Feaver said the grant also will spark a new emphasis on collaboration among Triangle schools. “This new initiative is a great example of how the Triangle schools can cooperate and build a program that is better than the sum of its parts.”

Pumphrey added that the center “will generate an unprecedented level of intellectual excitement across our four campuses. Each of our consortium members brings its own unique strengths to the table.”