We had our little graduation ceremony today for the National Security Leadership Program that I've been participating in over the last year. The result is being awarded a Certificate in National Security Affairs.
We got to meet with the Lab's Deputy Director for Science and Technology, Patricia Falcone, who handed out the certificates. She came to the Lab just a few months ago from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House. She knows Mike!
The certificate program consists of four graduate courses: Deterrence and Coercion (focusing on nuclear weapons), The Role of Intelligence in Security Affairs (focusing on intelligence agencies and operations), Terrorism in Today's World, and National Security Policy (history, structure, application of U.S. national security organizations).
It was definitely a different way of looking at the world and a very different way of writing papers. A lot of time the papers I wrote I felt ended up being a bit hand-wavy, but then I'm used to writing papers where you have hard data with which to argue your point.
I have no idea what will come of my having participated in this program, but it was a good experience. I enjoyed being back in a class room setting to really focus on interesting topics and at the same time I'm really glad I'm not a full-time student anymore. It was really nice to be able to intelligently and maturely discuss controversial topics of national policy in a setting that doesn't devolve into name calling or logically defunct arguments.
Having been through it, I kind of wish passing these courses was a minimum requirement for any politician elected to a national office.