How can students who seriously want to work in international companies or government agencies get the kind of education that will prepare them to be competitive in the turbulent national security job market, both domestically and globally? It is not an easy-to-find course of study at the University of New Mexico, but the Office of the Provost and interested deans and faculty members are beginning to think about how such a program of study might be constructed.
Companies searching for new employees seek graduates who have engineering or business skills, but also language skills and an understanding of the geopolitical environment they might work in domestically or overseas. “One way to do this,” said Emile Nakhleh, coordinator of National Security Programs for the Office of Provost, “is to develop a program that will allow students to add a concentration or a minor to their major subject area.”
Nakhleh says national security, broadly defined, covers a gamut of government activities, including relations with the outside world. He would like to find out whether disciplines across the university would be willing to offer special problems courses to their curricula to assist students who are looking for a global experience.
For example, faculty members in Political Science, Computer Science and African American Studies have proposed a Diplomacy Lab that would allow students to computer model tradeoffs between increasing food supplies and environmental consequences. A kick-off national security workshop recently drew an enthusiastic response from faculty members at the School of Law, The College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, Anderson School of Management and the Health Sciences Center.
Mark Peceny, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of Political Science, said he became interested in international events when he began to try to understand the differences between U.S. official policy in El Salvador and actual policies on the ground. He told the group UNM has deep Latin American ties in many different departments and those ties could be used in ways to benefit the student experience.
Nakhleh says there are also an increasing number of opportunities for students in federal agencies, which need graduates with deep cultural and language skills in a wide variety of jobs. The conversation within the UNM Community on the possibility of an academic concentration, minor or major will continue.
Interested members of the UNM community can reach Nakhleh at firstname.lastname@example.org.