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The University of New Mexico Board of Regents has approved a new university-wide, interdisciplinary Global & National Security Policy Institute (GNSPI).

The purpose is to enhance UNM standing across the country in National Security, broadly defined, to help UNM compete for funding & institutionalize collaboration with the national labs, the national security industry and other academic institutions. It is also mean to enhance UNM graduates’ competitive edge in seeking employment.

The GNSPI is based a broad definition of security, to include nuclear proliferation, natural resources and energy independence, the rule of law, social, economic, and humanitarian issues, infrastructure resiliency, health and infectious diseases, technology management and innovation, and cyber security.

M.A. degree in Global and National Security
The approval will allow the Academic Affairs Office to create a non-traditional module-based Master of Arts Degree in Global and National Security.

The degree will be targeted toward adults already in the workforce and will consist of long weekend modules taught by teams over a one to two year period. Many of the classes are already available in the UNM curriculum, but they will be reformatted and concentrated into a degree programs specifically targeted to working adults who seek a better understanding of international economic and environmental issues.

Over the past year, Emile Nakhleh, a research professor in Political Science has worked under the direction of Provost Chaouki Abdullah with a group of senior UNM faculty members to develop a proposal for how the program will work.

“This is not a unique program,” Nakhleh said. “Other universities are doing this, but we have close proximity to world renowned national laboratories and access to some of their expertise could differentiate this program from others.”

The new master’s degree program will be modeled along the lines of UNM’s Executive Masters of Business Administration program. It most likely will be set up in modules that run on the long-weekend model. For example the individual modules might run from Wednesday through Saturday or Thursday through Sunday.

Students would have homework and projects to be completed in the interim. The modules will include subjects such as international regimes, environmental security and resiliency, nuclear policy, law, natural resources, health, human and cyber security.

Nakhleh has worked with Sandia National Labs, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the national security community in Albuquerque to help form the program. Representatives from Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and ARA have been involved and made suggestions about how the program might be structured to accommodate adults with full time jobs so their employees could enroll as students. The program will also be open to any UNM student.

Nakhleh expects there to be opportunities for SNL employees or employees of private companies to be involved as instructors in specific course areas.

National Security Studies Certificate
UNM already has an interdisciplinary undergraduate National Security Studies Certificate for students who want to work internationally. The certificate is granted as an addition to the student’s major coursework. A graduate certificate program will be added for students who already have an area of academic concentration, but wish to add the national security emphasis to their degree program.

This program should be beneficial to any student with an interest in working globally Nakhleh says. Studying the geopolitical climate can help scientists working on projects worldwide understand the culture and expectations of the population they work with or health care workers understand the local environmental factors that influence health.

“The approval of the Board of Regents is an important step in bringing the proposed institute closer to reality. It’s an exciting development, and the result of a substantial effort from the committee, led by Emile [Nakhleh], that was charged with planning it,” said Abdallah. “UNM already has a number of very strong programs in this area, as well as relationships with the national labs, and national and international organizations; so in many ways this is a natural progression for UNM, and one that will create exciting opportunities for UNM students.”

The proposed degree program must be approved by the New Mexico Higher Education department and the state Board of Finance before UNM is allowed to proceed.