On-ground and online criminal justice students may be interested in a one-of-a-kind course in Israel.

Saint Leo is educating tomorrow's counterterrorism and homeland security experts not only through online and on-campus courses, but also through a special program abroad in Israel.

"This course is the experience of a lifetime and is not offered by any other college or university," says Robert Sullivan, regional academic director and criminal justice instructor.

The nine-day Terrorism in Israel course is open to undergraduate, graduate, and certificate students, particularly students in Saint Leo's criminal justice and critical incident management programs. This year's course runs May 8-16, 2015.

In the Q&A below, Sullivan shares information on what the course covers and what students can gain from this experience to apply to their future careers in law enforcement, emergency management, public safety, or other areas.

What does this course in Israel cover?

Sullivan: Students will obtain an inside look at the way Israel's ports, airports, shopping malls, government buildings, critical infrastructure, schools, and stadiums are protected. We will meet some of the people who are responsible for keeping Israel safe and learn about suicide terror, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, and protecting VIPs and other high profile targets.

The aim of this program is to take away ideas on how to harden targets in our own areas by observing Israeli techniques and translating them to fit our own vulnerabilities, thus better protecting our country from violent actions.

Because the face of terrorism changes more easily than conventional forces, we must always be learning in order to stay ahead of the threat.

Why study counterterrorism and homeland security topics in Israel?

Sullivan: Israel is a small country that has accomplished a tremendous amount in a short time against a background of full-scale war or protracted low-intensity conflicts throughout most of its existence. Over the last two years, it has managed to stop nearly 95 percent of the terrorist attacks against the country.

Our students will benefit from Israel's expert knowledge in areas like public safety, school safety, port and airport security, aviation security, critical infrastructure and government building security, and dignitary protection.

What can students expect on each day of the trip?

Sullivan: On the first day, students will leave from Newark, N.J., and fly to Tel Aviv. Each day includes special presentations and visits to important places in Israel, as well as stops for lunch and dinner.

For example, students will learn from experts on the terrorist threats on the Northern border as well as see natural scenery like the Galilee Mountain Range. We'll visit the site of the 1974 Ma'alot massacre, which forever changed the way Israel responded to terrorist attacks. We'll stop at Nahariya Hospital to learn how they handle casualties under missile threat and respond to mass casualty events.

In addition, we'll visit the National Israel Police Museum to learn about the special challenges their police forces handle. We'll also visit the Homeland Security simulator at the Home Front Command to learn how Israel prepares for various scenarios and about the Command's duties during times of emergency.

What are some of the most memorable sites students visit?

Sullivan: On Day 7 of this year's trip, we'll visit Jesus' Jerusalem, where we'll see the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Golgotha) as well as the sites on the way from there to the Wailing Wall. There's also an optional excursion on Day 8 to the Fortress of Massada and the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth.

Who can enroll in the course?

Sullivan: I recommend this program for:

  • graduate students in Saint Leo's on-ground or online Critical Incident Management degree program or Criminal Justice-Critical Incident Management specialization

  • graduate or undergraduate on-ground or online criminal justice students

  • any other Saint Leo University students who would like to broaden their knowledge of the Holy Land and Middle East.

Is it safe to travel to Israel?

Sullivan: Israel is a very westernized, democratic, and pro-American country. Contrary to what you see reported in the media, it is safe. I have attended two of these trips for Saint Leo and took my daughter (a sophomore at Saint Leo) on the first trip. She never felt in danger and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Students who make this trip report that it is a life-changing experience and well worth the money.

How much does this study abroad experience cost?

Sullivan: Saint Leo offers this course in partnership with Security Solutions International. Because of this partnership, Saint Leo students receive a discount. The trip costs $2,790, which includes all tours, meals, and double occupancy hotel accommodations.

Airline tickets are not included in the price, and each student is responsible for getting round-trip airline tickets, which typically cost between $800 and $1,300.

Additionally, students must enroll in the course, and regular tuition rates apply towards the credits earned. Payment for all aspects of the trip is due 60 days prior to departure.

Deadlines and More Information

For more details on the program, students can contact Robert Sullivan at Robert.sullivan02@saintleo.edu.

Image Credits: Scitt /sierrues on Flickr/Creative Commons and courtesy Robert Sullivan