Program creates degree for homeland security specialists

On the second floor of a training building in Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on a January night, security didn’t come from the barrel of a gun or the buzz of a Taser.

It started with rote memorization of obscure capitals: Riga, Latvia, and Skopje, Macedonia, and Vaduz, Lichtenstein.

In Room 215, University of South Carolina Beaufort instructor Colin Pearce stood in front of his class and called out countries.

“Finland? Olympic Games? Nineteen-fiffteeeeee-two?” he asked.

“Helsinki?” one student blurted out.

“The Netherlands,” Pearce said, moving on. “Sin City? Where you want to go if you want to commit sins?”

It was the beginning of Introduction to Security Studies, the first class in the university’s new security program, a degree designed to capitalize on the surging demand for homeland security professionals in the country following Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina. The program is the first of its kind in South Carolina and one of few nationwide.

University officials said they hope demand for the program will flourish among the 6,000-plus military personnel at the air station and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, many may be looking for work in the private sector.