Roundtable: Defense Policy in Teaching and Scholarship: Necessary Yet Neglected
(National Security and Homeland Security)

Thursday, November 7, 2019: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Court 2 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Organizer:  Ryan P. Burke, U.S. Air Force Academy
Moderator:  Christopher X. Witko, Pennsylvania State University
Speakers:  Paul J. Bolt, U.S. Air Force Academy and Deborah Avant, University of Denver

With over 700,000 civilian employees, the U.S. Department of Defense is the world's largest employer. The world's largest employer also accounts for, on average, greater than 50% of annual U.S. discretionary spending requirements. At over $700 billion, the fiscal year 2019 defense budget exceeds the combined discretionary spending on health, environmental programs, justice administration, transportation, and other relevant policy areas. Despite the massive scope in both budgeting and employment relative to other emphasized policy disciplines, defense and national security policy remains conspicuously absent from most traditional public policy higher education curricula. Save for a small number of targeted research centers, the higher education community largely ignores defense policy in favor of other – yet comparably smaller – policy specializations. The irony of this, one could argue, is that defense and national security policy – compared to some policy areas emphasized in higher education – transcends traditional disciplinary as well as national and international boundaries. Defense and national security policy topics even consume chapters in the most circulated public policy textbooks used by collegiate programs today. Still, public policy schools nationwide largely neglect this highly relevant and comparably larger sub-discipline embedded in policy studies. Why?

This roundtable discussion integrates national security and defense policy experts from some of the most reputable university programs in the country emphasizing national security and defense policy in both the domestic and international context. It combines disciplinary experts with program advocates for an in-depth discussion investigating the state of defense and national security policy in higher education today; what it entails; and why it’s relevant. The roundtable discussion will also present competing arguments for its inclusion - and its omission – in future public policy curriculum.