Thursday, December 23, 2010

The SENDS Academic Curricula Task: A Complementary Effort

By Craig Harm

The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done—men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers. The second goal of education is to form minds which can be critical, can verify, and not accept everything they are offered. — Jean Piaget, Cornell University (1964).

Education is at the very core of science. It helps provide us a fundamental understanding of how and why things work. As humans, education starts with us as infants and toddlers touching and tasting as we learn to distinguish things from each other. It continues through our childhood with our formal schooling as we begin to whet our appetite for learning. As we approach adulthood our education starts to become more focused on our anticipated vocation through either post-secondary schooling or formalized apprenticeships. Even throughout our adult lives, continuing education keeps us well informed, current and quenches our thirst for further understanding.

The strength of the United States is not the gold at Fort Knox or the weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total ofthe education and the character of out people - Claiborne Pell

One of the primary tasks for the SENDS Pilot Study is to promote and advance the study of the Science of Cyberspace and its complement: The Science of Cyberspace Security. Specifically, we seek to outline a concept that will lead to the establishment of modern cyberspace education curricula for government and non-government training and education.

The academic perspective provides for the long-term potential success of our nation in cyberspace and indeed around the world. As we grow responsible, cyberspace-empowered citizens, who better understand the nature of a connected environment and all that it enables, we may see the emergence of better, more environment-protecting behaviors of people who connect, no matter where they’re from.

This past November the JASONs, an independent scientific advisory panel published the results of their study on the Science of Cyber-Security, JSR-10-102. While not only supporting the SENDS concept that a fundamental understanding of the science of cybersecurity is needed, the report also addresses some of areas that are key elements in building an educational foundation. Highlighted in the report are: the importance of definitions; the need for a standard vocabulary to discuss the subject; and the need to devise experimental protocols for developing a reproducible experimental science of cybersecurity. The report also says the DoD should support a network of cybersecurity research centers in universities and elsewhere.

First and foremost is our SENDS objective is to make any modern cyberspace education curricula compatible and complementary with other similar or related education initiatives already in existence. A variety of organizations emphasize Cyberspace education activities; a few are listed below...

7. JASONS’s Study - Science of Cyber-Security, JSR-10-102, November 2010

Probably one of the best known national science education program approaches is known as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In January 2009, the National Science Board (NSB) approved and transmitted a set of six recommendations to the Obama Administration. These recommendations outline a series of steps to improve STEM education and foster innovation to ensure both scientific literacy among the public and ensure global competitiveness in the 21st century.

The NICE initiative’s goal is to “establish an operational, sustainable and continually improving cybersecurity education program for the nation to use sound cyber practices that will enhance the nation’s security.” SENDS Partner, Science Center of Pinellas County, has in its mission statement “To inspire, motivate and stimulate innovative thinking in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math, and career development for K-12 students; enhancing their lives through instruction, hands-on, and experiential education delivered through partnerships with schools, corporations, universities, and community.”

All these initiatives and programs are providing critically needed education opportunities in science, technology and cyberspace. Our plan for the SENDS Academic activity is to interlink with these existing activities and capitalize on their efforts to help build the scientific and technical foundations needed to study Cyberspace as a Science, to better visualize the linkages that promote cyberspace and cyberspace security science and education.

As we continue our journey toward the maturation of a Science of Cyberspace, education will be at its very core. This is what makes the SENDS Pilot study task to establish an outline of modern cyberspace education curricula for government and non-government training and education so important. While there are other complementary ongoing initiatives to strengthen science and technology education, the study of cyberspace as a science will continue to require the integration of additional skill sets beyond those found in the traditional sciences.

We’ll discuss in more detail in our next blog on the SENDS Education Task just how we see this playing out in the SENDS Pilot.

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