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Interdisciplinary concentration in cyber resiliency designed for students in all majors

NEWPORT, R.I. (Oct. 25, 2017) – Salve Regina University is launching an interdisciplinary concentration in cyber resiliency that will give students enrolled in any undergraduate major the opportunity to gain proficiency in the fundamentals of a cyber education – a skillset experts say can be readily applied into whatever career paths they pursue.

One of the only Rhode Island institutions to enmesh cyber education throughout the undergraduate curriculum, Salve Regina’s new concentration reflects a more diverse and holistic approach to the study of cyber.

“Recognizing the importance of societal cyber resilience, Salve Regina has made investments at the undergraduate level to provide all students – not just those who seek future careers in cybersecurity – a baseline education in cyber awareness,” said David Smith, chairman of the university’s administration of justice department. “This interdisciplinary program gives students an opportunity to engage with cyber security through the lens of mathematics, law, justice, philosophy, business, politics, religion and education – among many other fields. We believe this provides students a holistic and well-rounded education that serves them well when entering the work force.”

Beginning in January, Salve students from all majors can take courses that blend technical, theoretical, philosophical, strategic and policy-based concepts into cutting-edge cyber security training. The 15-credit concentration includes three required courses in ADJ (for example, “Computer Crime,” “Information Essentials” or “Principles of Forensics”) and two electives from course offerings in Biology (“Bioinformatics”), Management (“Cybercrime in Business”), Religious and Theological Studies (“Technology, Genetics, God, and the Future of Humanity”), and Applied Technology (“Advanced Information Systems”). The offerings include coursework designed to prepare students to undertake various cybersecurity certification examinations, such as the CompTIA Security+ and Network+ exams.

A prerequisite in computational mathematics, “Introduction to Programming in Python,” will teach students fundamental concepts of computer programming using the Python language, as well as introduce them to the computational way of thinking. “This is important because computer programs are the delivery vehicles for cyber attacks,” said Ernest Rothman, professor and chair of Salve’s department of mathematical sciences. “The field of cyber security represents a great opportunity for math majors, especially those who don’t go into education, because most of them will wind up doing a great deal of computer programming in their careers.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, ICT jobs are expected to grow 12 percent by 2024, in large part due to greater usage of cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data and the ubiquity of the “internet of things.” At present, more than 200,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are left unfilled while globally, the worldwide shortage of ICT security professionals is estimated at 1 million.

Yet, the need for cybersecurity education at the undergraduate level extends beyond the cybersecurity workforce, says Brandon Catalan, professor in Salve’s ADJ department. Indeed, current and future economic and societal success requires every individual to have an adequate level of cyber awareness. A holistic undergraduate education should include cybersecurity as part of that education.

“With Salve dedicating a space (Digital Forensics Lab) and hiring more faculty, making more investments in hardware and software, it’s not just our cyber students that are going to benefit,” Catalan said. “We have some of our business students that are now taking cyber classes, we have theology faculty that are interested in cyber classes as well. A space like this, equipment like this is not just going to benefit the cyber program, the ADJ program, but all of our students as a whole. Eventually, cyber is going to be a piece of every program.”