September 8, 2011 by Tonya Suther, NMSU News Center
Students considering a job with the federal government dealing with national security can now earn a minor in national security and communication at New Mexico State University. Job opportunities also exist in the private sector, where corporations often hire intelligence experts to root out industrial espionage.
“It’s a critical time for the intelligence community and they want to hire graduates who can think, argue and analyze,” Kenneth Hacker, a communication studies professor, said. “They also need people who can listen effectively and speak persuasively.”
Working on a government-funded information operations research project in 2004 convinced Hacker of the potential for the minor. The research concerned a project to analyze terrorism on the Internet and his mission was to figure out how the United States could persuade other countries to reject messages from al-Qaida.
“It seemed to me that the government put itself into a war and within one year realized they were going to lose the war,” Hacker said. “They didn’t know what to do and were radically searching out communication techniques to convince the Iraqis to stop listening to the insurgents.
“People in government began to realize we need to study the music they listen to, we need to read the books that they read, we need to ask them where they get their ideas, what theories are they’re reading, things like that,” he continued. “The nuances there to me are the differences between war and peace.”
Earning the national security minor at NMSU can provide students with a political perspective in the areas of intercultural communication, history, international relations and terrorism.
During the course of study students may become involved in research projects, because their professors are likely doing national security work as well. Two professors in the communication studies department are currently researching Iranian discourse.
The intelligence community offers scholarship programs, co-op programs, internships and graduate opportunities as well as employment options for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in various areas of study.
Hacker says the minor in national security communication can help those students interested in pursuing careers in the intelligence sector.
To earn NMSU’s minor in national security and communication, students must complete 12 credit hours of communication studies required courses and six credit hours of electives, which include courses in criminal justice, geography, government and sociology. All majors can apply.