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The Future of Cyber Education, Training, & Research

Ines Jordan-ZoobBy Justin Sherman. October 14, 2018.

On Thursday, October 11, Cyber Team Vice President Inés Jordan-Zoob [pictured above]—a senior double-majoring in political science and art history with a focus on national security, foreign policy, and technology—spoke at the Southeast Region Cyber Security & Technology Symposium on a panel about the dichotomy and congruence of cyber education, training, and research. Other panelists ranged from a Founding Member of the Army Cyber Institute to the President & CEO of Innovative Systems Group Inc. In this capacity, Inés not only represented the Cyber Club and the Cyber Team, but she was by far the youngest individual on the panel.

There is no question that more focus needs to be placed on “cyber” in an educational capacity, from elementary schools that should be teaching online safety to colleges and universities that should be preparing their students to competently and creatively lead in the digital age. Most students are entering the workforce with little to no understanding of how technology impacts the world around them. At the same time, there is an enormous cyber workforce gap in the United States, where organizations from federal agencies to tech titans to small and medium-sized businesses will not nearly be able to find talent to fill the cyber-related positions required, which leads to hybrid solutions like cybersecurity apprenticeship programs that are themselves still not enough to close the talent gap.

Given this fact, and because of the still-emerging bodies of literature on subjects ranging from cyber deterrence to infrastructure security to Internet governance—not to mention the number of still-emerging technical areas for cybersecurity application development, like machine learning—there is necessarily some overlap that should exist between cyber education and cyber training and research. At the same time as we must educate the populace on cyber issues and digital technology, which impact everything from business to healthcare to human rights, we must also bolster the American cyber workforce.

This served as foundation for Inés’ panel, where she drew on her experiences researching, publishing, and consulting in the cyber arena—work that has already spanned academia, private industry, and the U.S. intelligence community. “I enjoyed speaking on the panel immensely,” she said. “We delved into a variety of issues, including the obstacles students face when pursuing cybersecurity education and careers associated with the field. I highlighted how many universities haven’t kept up with the rate of technology development, and that rigorous cybersecurity programs are few and far between.” (Many have called, just like Inés and I, for technology and cybersecurity education to begin as early as kindergarten—and others even earlier.)

“I referenced how many students want to learn more about this field,” she added, telling the audience that “we ended up having a significant wait-list for the house course I am co-teaching, ‘Cyber Security and Global Security,’ because there was simply nothing else like it being offered.”

Despite initial doubts as to whether students would be interested in cyber policy topics, the course quickly filled to capacity, with a roughly equal split of male and female students with majors spanning public policy, economics, political science, computer science, and engineering. The same goes for the Cyber Club and the Cyber Team, for which Inés’ and I’s recruiting efforts yielded a general-body Club and competitive Team with a collective membership of over 200 undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. There is unquestionably interest in these topics despite a lack of educational offerings.

“Cyberspace continues to present growing opportunities and challenges, for national security, global businesses, and individuals alike,” stated Kim Kotlar, retired Naval Officer and coach of the Cyber Team. Thus, “Inés’ comments resonated with other panelists and audience members as she discussed the increased demand signal from students in all majors to better understand, operate, and become future leaders in this area.”

Such interdisciplinary efforts are the future of cyber education, Inés told me, if we are to properly educate current and future generations on the ways in which technology is impacting the world. “We need an approach to cybersecurity that incorporates both technical and policy considerations,” she said. “Without such an approach, humanity as a whole will suffer.”

Justin Sherman is a junior double-majoring in computer science and political science and the Co-Founder and President of the Duke Cyber Team. He is a Fellow at Interact; the Co-Founder and Vice President of Ethical Tech; and a Cyber Policy Researcher at the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences. He has written extensively on cyber policy and technology ethics, including for Journal of Cyber Policy, Defense One, The Strategy Bridge, and the Council on Foreign Relations.


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