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ASU Reflects the Post-9/11 World

September 08, 2011

As America commemorates the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the effects of that horrific day have left a prevailing mark on Angelo State University.

Just this fall, the ASU Center for Security Studies (CSS), which was created from the resulting need for more security personnel, opened its doors to students on the Internet around the world for cutting-edge programs in security studies, cultural fluency and border security. This next generation of students will soon be at the forefront of ongoing efforts to ensure that the events of 9/11 that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people are never repeated.

In a letter to that first class of students, CSS director Dr. Robert Ehlers said, “It is appropriate and necessary to stop at some point on 9/11 to remember those innocent people and their loved ones, to recommit ourselves to defeating the extremisms that unleashed such a vicious attack on our country, and to think about the many ways in which we must do our part to keep our country safe.”

As the U.S. intelligence community was forced to reevaluate and restructure itself after 9/11, the national demand for culturally adept intelligence and border security personnel, both military and civilian, became readily apparent. The CSS programs are designed specifically for students wishing to enter those challenging fields.

“This country must never again allow its intelligence capabilities to erode,” Ehlers said. “They take years – and in the case of human intelligence operatives, a generation – to develop. Jettisoning any of them in the name of ‘economy’ would in fact be the worst kind of false economy.”

While many people like to compare the 9/11 attacks to Pearl Harbor, there are obvious differences between Japan’s uniformed forces committing an act of war against a U.S. military installation and agents of an extremist movement perpetrating a terrorist assault specifically to kill as many civilians and military personnel as possible. However, much the same way as everything changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, today’s college students are living with the reality of a new world shaped by the events of 9/11.

“Whatever else we might say about 9/11, it changed the world and our country in fundamental ways, and we will continue to feel and deal with its impacts for decades to come,” Ehlers said. “In this sense, 9/11 brought on a struggle that my generation had to take on, but which the next generation must bring to a successful conclusion if our country is to continue to know the security and prosperity everyone in my generation took for granted.”

To equip the next generation of students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in our complex and “shrinking” world, ASU has over the past several years revamped and enhanced many of its academic programs. While the CSS programs appeal to students who will be directly involved with national and international security issues, study abroad programs through the Center for International Studies, international business offerings in the College of Business, international internship opportunities through the Honors Program and many other university initiatives help give all ASU students the chance for a truly global education. The growing presence of foreign students on campus also provides insight into other cultures from around the world.

It is through combining traditional college academics with programs and courses that give students a more culturally sound and worldly educational experience that ASU is helping prepare the future leaders of our country – as dictated by the events of 9/11 and the decade since.

“American college students and faculty,” Ehlers said, “along with their countrymen and women from all walks of life, whether military, diplomatic, homeland security, international business or a host of other career fields, must engage seriously with these issues and continue their discussions with their elected representatives. If we do so, and if we implement the policy choices that result from such an ongoing dialogue, we will maximize the odds that America will continue to be secure and prosperous.”