2013 Pandemics, Bioterrorism, and International Security Summer Course!

Following up on last year’s tremendously popular course, this year’s Pandemics, Bioterrrorism, and International Security three-day short course will be held on the George Mason Campus, from July 22-24, 2013.

Click Here to visit the official GMU web site for more information and to register.

Course Description

This three-day, non-credit short-course is designed to introduce participants to the challenges facing the world at the intersection of biodefense and public health. Private and public organizations face a number of challenges in the biosecurity domain. A bioterrorist attack is both a public health emergency and a criminal act whose perpetrators need to be apprehended. Likewise, pandemics can affect not just public health, but also public safety and national security. The causes and consequences of these risks extend far beyond any one nation’s borders. Pandemics and bioterrorist attacks will also confront government agencies and the private sector with the need to make high-impact decisions with limited information during a rapidly evolving situation. Further complicating this domain is the dual-use nature of biology: the knowledge and skills developed for legitimate scientific and commercial purposes can be misused by those with hostile intent. Research with dangerous pathogens and the development of dual-use biotechnologies poses a dilemma for policy-makers and researchers who seek to maximize the benefits of such research while minimizing the risks. Thus, public health, law enforcement and national security agencies, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and the academic life sciences community need to establish new priorities, such as developing new types of expertise, adopting new types of risk assessment and risk management strategies, and learning to collaborate with each other.

Implementing these new priorities will require substantial organizational learning and change. But large organizations have deeply embedded professional norms and organizational culture that make them resistant to change, even during times of crisis. Each organization responds with its own routines, and its own distinctive view of “the threat,” which dilutes new initiatives, encourages stovepiping, and impedes effective collaboration. These organizational tendencies grow even more pronounced during times of declining budgets. Thus, while the need for collaboration is great, the potential for differing organizational styles to produce conflict is high.

The 1976 swine flu scare, 2001 anthrax letter attacks, 2003 smallpox immunization campaign, SARS and avian influenza outbreaks, and 2009 influenza pandemic provide rich case studies of how elite organizations have struggled to address novel biological threats, make high-impact decisions with limited information, and work effectively with new partners. The lessons from these cases are broadly applicable to both public and private organizations seeking to address current and emerging biosecurity risks.

Course features

  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be awarded by George Mason University
  • Syllabus and reading materials
  • Dinner after first day of course
  • Lunch and breaks on all days
  • Certificate of attendance
  • Membership in the exclusive course group, Pandemics, Bioterrrorism, and International Security, on LinkedIn

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