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The combination of in-depth specialised and general knowledge about security challenges

The Master programme MSc Crisis and Security Management is completely changed. Combined with three main courses for all CSM-students, this new programme offers exactly the combination of in-depth specialized knowledge and general knowledge about security challenges in a globalizing world society and the professional field is looking for, according to Jelle van Buuren.

Crises arising from terrorism, cyber threats, and natural disasters dominate world news and make Crisis and Security Management a heavily politicized and hotly debated topic at the top of the national and global societal and governance agenda. The Master programme Crisis and Security Management (CSM) offers insights on general developments as well as the specific challenges in the field of the governance of crisis and security, with in-depth knowledge of sub-fields of crisis and security management.

What are the most important changes?

'In this new CSM-programme we introduce three specialisations: The Governance of Crisis; Cybersecurity Governance; Governance of Radicalism, Extremism and Terrorism.
Combined with three main courses for all CSM-students, this new programme offers exactly the combination of in-depth specialised knowledge and general knowledge about security challenges in a globalizing world society and the professional field is looking for', Jelle explains.

'Further, the new programme emphasizes activating work methods, research skills and professional skills. By focusing on so-called ‘transferable skills’, CSM-students are well-prepared for a variety of professional jobs and trained to analyse wicked problems and come up with the creative approaches society is looking for, towards current crisis and security challenges.'

What was the reason to change this master programme?

'An important reason to change the programme is the alignment with the Bachelor Security Studies (BaSS). From September onwards, BaSS-graduates can enrol in the MSc CSM. As both the BaSS and CSM in its current format are broad programmes, we didn’t want to ‘simply’ offer a programme similar to BaSS on a master level. That’s why we decided to introduce the specialisations. We also took the opportunity to implement some of the main principles of Leiden University’s vision on Teaching, for instance inquiry-based teaching. Inquiry-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning in which the student is stimulated to develop a proactive attitude to fact finding and problem solving, rather than depending on presented facts or established knowledge. Further, focused preparation for the labour market is an important feature of the new master. By integrating academic skills and professional skills and working with real-life cases, students will acquire knowledge, skills and competencies that we know are highly appreciated in the professional field.'

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What kind of students are you looking for?

'Students who want to actively participate in the programme. We want to change the traditional setting in which lectures are transmitting knowledge to passive recipients, into a dynamic and active setting. But we are also looking for students interested in the world around them. Security and crisis give rise to fascinating, but also sensitive, highly politicized issues, with severe media dynamics and complex by nature. There are no easy solutions to complicated safety and security problems. So, we are looking for students with a critical mindset, intent on improve themselves, capable of self-directed learning and with a good sense of operational and strategic security and crisis challenges.

Rather than passing on existing knowledge to passive audiences, teaching in CSM is designed to foster students’ active knowledge construction, by interacting with other students, classroom materials and the teacher. Research consistently shows that actively engaging with content leads to more effective learning than what is referred to as the 'consumption of knowledge'.'

What can you expect of this master programme as a student?

'In the CSM-programme, students will—individually and together in teams—deal with real-life security challenges. By combining academic knowledge, research skills and professional skills, students will acquire all the fundamental academic competencies in settings that mimic professional constellations. In lectures and active learning groups, students will be trained in writing literature reviews, collect and analyse data, analyse wicked problems and critically review research outcomes. The final product of the programme is a research portfolio, showing the progress and achievements of students in combination with a reflection paper. This portfolio is also a showcase for future employers. Students can show not only the academic competencies acquired, but also the (research) papers they produced and other proof of their professional qualifications.'

What are the career perspectives?

'In general career perspectives, both in the public and private sector, are good. In the new master labour market preparation is fully integrated. Of course, we don’t know what the consequences of the Corona crisis will be for the labour market perspectives of CSM graduates. On the other hand: in the Corona crisis, almost all of the topics the CSM programme is addressing are present. Global interdependencies blurring the distinction between internal and external security? Check. Crisis preparedness and management? Check. Crisis communication? Check. Privacy issues related to the development of eHealth apps and digital communication? Check. Social media as spreaders of fake news and conspiracies? Check. The delegitimation of authorities, and protest - sometimes extreme or violent - against lockdowns and 5G-networks? Check. Extremist networks trying to further destabilize societies and fuelling polarization? Check. A highly uncertain future with more questions than answers? Check. It is exactly this societal setting that asks for reflective, academically trained professionals capable of dealing with wicked problems and a thorough understanding of societal transformations and potential repercussions in terms of uncertainty and security. And that’s exactly what CSM has to offer.'

Dr. Jelle van Buuren is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University - Institute of Security and Global Affairs. His research interests lie in, among other things, European police cooperation, intelligence cooperation and border management. He is currently researching what role conspiracy thinking is playing in processes of delegitimis

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