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Monday, April 2, 2012

Rivier to debut ‘unique’ programs in global studies, transnational security this fall

NASHUA – Former Air Force officer Rick Johnson spent 20 years in the military, but now he’s starting to carve out a successful career in higher education.

Johnson, who was hired at Rivier College six months ago, designed a new transnational security program for the Nashua private Catholic school this year. It will open for admission starting in the fall later this year.

The transnational security program will complement another new program in global studies, said Sister Paula Buley, president of Rivier College.

The global studies program will focus on liberal arts but include broader subjects about the global environment to help students get a glimpse of worldwide culture and problems, as opposed to those only in the United States.

Johnson’s transnational security program will take a deeper look at globalization and its effects on business, security and culture.

“Sometimes, there may be countries that have issues with each other that don’t have an impact on the United States, but later on they could,” he said. “We’ll look at various dimensions. The aim is for students to understand the concepts of community security and the stability in various settings around the world. The historical, cultural and economic factors all come into focus.”

The transnational security program will attract military veterans, who could even convert some of their experience into college credit, Johnson said. Rivier will also try to attract community college students, online-education seekers, and offer night classes for working adults.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “This is fresh. I think we got it right.”

Johnson also started the homeland security program at Daniel Webster College, but he said the program at Rivier is not intended to compete with Daniel Webster.

The programs are “similar but different,” he said.

“That program (at Daniel Webster College) is more domestically focused, and ours will have a more global emphasis,” he said.

Some proposed classes of Rivier’s transnational security program include: Evolution of Terrorism, Emergency Management, Geographic Information Systems, Espionage, Strategic Intelligence, Immigration, Human Security, and Post-Crisis Resilience.

“We’ve designed the program to have enough electives for students to carve a path in either a business specialty to align with their goals or in IT security,” Johnson said.

Students will learn to solve problems with several dimensions, work on grant writing and business concepts, and work in both internship and study-abroad components, he added.

Buley said the college is excited to start both programs.

“It’s a wonderful career opportunity for students interested in international relations, diplomacy or homeland security,” Buley said of the transnational security program. “It will take so many of the political, economic and diplomatic threats that are part of our global environment and reflect on the strategies used to reduce those threats.”

Before administration gave Johnson the green light, he conducted a market survey of current Rivier students to assess the interest in such a program.

“I’ve had students tell me, ‘I wish they had this program when I started,’” he said. “When you hear comments like that, it gets the program off to a good start.”

Johnson said he’d also like to recruit local officials to serve on an advisory board, where they could give feedback or even teach classes. He plans to use adjunct faculty, but the program is searching for instructors, he said.

“I want to have as much practitioner in this program as academic,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’m really striving for, to recruit those ‘pracademics,’ who has as much as experience as interest in learning.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out Kittle (@Telegraph_CamK) on Twitter.