Online students are encouraged to participate in annual, one-of-a-kind course abroad.
For Mike Fritz and Katelyn Flanagan, students in Saint Leo's online criminal justice degree program, last year's nine-day course in Israel studying best practices in counterterrorism was the experience of a lifetime.
"What I got out of that one week was priceless," said Fritz, a Marine Corps veteran who works on a drug task force with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
"I'm more motivated than ever to complete my degree and start my master's online," said Flanagan, a military spouse stationed with her husband in Germany.
Offered in partnership with Security Solutions International, this year's Terrorism in Israel course runs May 13-21. Online students in both undergraduate and graduate programs are invited to participate with students from the university's educations centers and University Campus.
Studying critical issues with world experts
According to Saint Leo University professor Robert Sullivan, who has led the study trip multiple times, students will study critical issues regarding terrorism philosophy, tactics, methodology, the ancient origins of the global jihad, and what this threat continues to mean to America.
"The course provides an inside look at the way Israel protects its people, buildings and critical infrastructure," said Sullivan. "Students will meet people who are directly responsible for keeping Israel safe while learning about suicide terror, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, and protecting VIP and other high-profile targets."
While visiting the Northern border, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Jordan River, and the Sea of Galilee, students meet with experts from the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israel Police, the Mossad, and Israeli Special Forces.
Participants will also be able to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Only U.S. university offering course
"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 these violent actions," said Sullivan. "Because the face of terrorism changes more easily than conventional forces, we must always be learning. This is the only way to stay ahead of the threat."
According to Sullivan, although a small country, Israel 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, they have managed to stop nearly 95 percent of the terrorist attacks against them," said Sullivan. "Through a total of 60 study hours, we will benefit from their knowledge, and will be able to apply it in areas such as public safety, school safety, port and airport security, aviation security, critical infrastructure and government building security and dignitary protection."
Each day includes special presentations and visits to important sites in Israel. While the actual itinerary is subject to change due to security considerations, availability, and weather conditions, following are some trip highlights and a general itinerary. For a detailed sample itinerary, click here.
Saturday, May 14Arrival in Israel. Hotel check-in. Dinner.
Sunday, May 15Presentation on suicide terror, VBIED's, and how Israeli security policy defends against these threats. Travel south of Tel Aviv to site of March 2004 Dolphinarium attack to focus on maritime terrorism.
Monday, May 16Lecture by Arab affairs expert on terrorist groups ISIS and Al Qaeda. Travel south to Erez border crossing with Gaza and/or continue to Sderot to receive a briefing on how residents in this small town live under continuous terror threat. Return to Tel Aviv.
Tuesday, May, 17Day focused on school and university security. Lecture by Gal Nir, head of Scopus Security and renowned Israeli security expert on active shooter incidents. Special training program: Safe and Secure Institutions for Education, including active shooter scenario.
Wednesday, May 18Travel to Northern border with Lebanon. Visit Nahariya Hospital to observe rocket damage during 2006 war with Hezbollah. Visit the Meir Nativ, site of Israel's worst terrorist attack. Travel to an observation point on the Northern border and learn about Hezbollah, Iran's role in that terror organization, their modus operandi in-depth. Return trip to Tel Aviv via Galilee and Carmel Mountains.
Thursday, May 19Travel to Jerusalem. Tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Wailing Wail, and other historical sites. Visit with the head of Israel's special event security at the Ministry of Tourism. Visit to the Israeli Emergency Response and Rescue agency, MDA, to discuss Israel's approach to mass casualty incidents.
Friday, May 20Optional tour to Galilee, Golan Heights, and Nazareth, including Church of the Annunciation.
Saturday, May 21Departure.
The discounted price for Saint Leo students is $2,790. This price includes tours, all meals, and hotel accommodations (double occupancy). Attendees will be responsible for their own round-trip ticket from Newark, N.J. The cost of the flight ranges from $800 to $1,300.
Degree-seeking students may earn up to three undergraduate or graduate credits and pay their regular tuition rate for the course. The enrollment fee for non-student participants or students who want to take the course to earn a certification is $400. Deposits are due by March 15.
For more information, contact Robert Sullivan at (352) 467-0022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image credits: Dan Josephson on Shutterstock.com and courtesy 2015 participants