CTSS Study Abroad; highlights from Week 1

Image

Share Button

This summer I have the great pleasure of taking a group of CTSS students to Portugal to study cross-cultural approaches to criminal justice, security and terrorism at the University of Minho, Braga. For me, studying abroad is a unique environment; it is shorter, and more intense. Far more independence is afforded (and indeed expected in return). “Learning” is not so much about passive reception of information but about actively seeking out information. Students’ are  required to reflect on everything they see and experience  (“what do these differences between Portuguese and American culture mean?” “How can we learn from this?”). As such this trip is a combination of classroom based learning and more applied experiences (in week 2 we are able to tour a local prison, while in week 3 we are going to be visiting the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon to discuss our experiences and have a briefing from the United States Ambassador to Portugal (Hon Robert Sherman). While here the students will also be collecting and analyzing data on a (security related) subject of their choice.

As part of this trip we are asking students to write regular blog posts to allow them to reflect on their experiences as well as to communicate what they have learnt to the outside world.

Below are a few of these blogs for the first week of our trip; they reflect on the students’ early experiences and their perceptions of the, very unique, São João Cultural Festival which we were able to attend just after we landed in Portugal.

————

Blog 1: Written by Jill Calden

Never have I felt more accepted or had a greater sense of belonging than in Portugal. These past few days here have been some of the best days of my life, and the things I have experienced have been unimaginable. I know my time here will fly by so I’m trying to make the most of what little time I do have.

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go to the beach and swim in the freezing water. I got whipped by the sand and burned by the sun but still had an incredible time. A few of us bought a soccer ball at a nearby shop and started playing at some nets set up at the beach. Eventually, some Portuguese men on the beach asked to join us and we played a pickup soccer game. Our skills were no match for them and they demolished us. Even though only a few spoke English, we all had a grand time filled with laughter.

The following day, we hiked to the top of Bom Jesus do Monte, a religious sanctuary that overlooks the whole city. The sun beat down on us as we made our way up to the top and we climbed over 70 flights of stairs to get there. From the top, the view was stunning, as you can see for miles in all different directions. Exploring on top of the hill, we found caves, gardens, old buildings, and even tried to rent a boat to explore a pond.

Later that night, a local Portuguese student, José, invited us over to his place for a home cooked meal. A group of us piled into his small flat and ate delicious pasta in a meat sauce. We took up his kitchen table, his living room, his balcony, wherever we could find a spot to sit, and we all laughed, told stories, and enjoyed each other’s company. At one point, José began to cry because never in his life did he imagine having a group of Americans in his home.

While I do miss my comfort foods and my dogs, I feel so fortunate to be here, experiencing this culture. I cannot wait to see what next week holds for me and I can only hope that it is as memorable as this past week.

————

Blog 2: Written by Victoria Beauchesne

Portugal has always been on my top 5 list of places that I wanted to go. So, I jumped at the opportunity to not only travel to Portugal but also combine it with a classroom learning environment. So far, this trip has been a big shock. I was under an extremely false impression that more people would speak English and that it would be a lot easier to get around and communicate. This was not reality. Thank goodness we have an amazing group of students from the University of Minho showing us around and helping us communicate our needs to the local people of Braga.

So far, the culture here is amazing. As a group, we had the opportunity to attend Braga’s, São João festival which celebrates the Saint for that area. During this festival, there was a lot of food from local places, all of which is amazing! Also, a big tradition that the people of Braga participate in is tapping people on the head with a toy hammer that makes noises. The people also send off heat balloons with wishes that float into the sky. Though everyone is supposed to be hitting everyone else on the head, every time someone would do it to me, I felt the need to thank them for involving me in their traditions and being so nice!

Before the festival, we also had the opportunity to tour an old city nearby. In this city, we got to visit two castles and enjoy an amazing view from them. We also got to see them preparing for a big fair that they had going on over the next few days. This fair is a reenactment of a medieval marketplace. Their costumes and set up were so authentic and fit in perfectly with the city. I feel as though fairs in the US become more of an eyesore as opposed to a being an extension of the cities’ histories.

All in all, it is only day two of being in Portugal and I’m already in love with it. This has been an eye opening, once in a lifetime experience that I’m so excited I had the opportunity to enjoy.

————

Blog 3: Written by Christopher Calandra

Coming into this experience, I did not know what to expect. I was nervous being in a country I did not know well and where I did not speak the native language. So far, everyone has been very nice and welcoming, especially the Portuguese students that are helping us. They’re constantly offering us tips, suggestions, and doing anything they can to make our experience as great as it can be. It was very interesting talking with them about different topics within criminal justice and seeing how the United States and Portugal/Europe differ in those aspects.

The tours of Guimaraes and Braga were both incredible. Both cities have so much culture and history. It was amazing seeing the castles and the many churches, cathedrals, and chapels (pictures 1-3). In the United States, we usually do not get to see these types of buildings and structures, so getting to see them in person was so surreal. Everywhere we turned, there was always something fascinating to see.

The Festa de São João, or the festival of St. John the Baptist, was one of the best experiences I’ve had. At first, it was a little strange seeing people walk around and hitting each other on the head with plastic squeaky hammers. As the night went on, it became more and more normal. The streets of central Braga were filled with thousands of people, endless places to get food and desserts, and everyone was just having an amazing time (picture 4). People of all ages were there, from babies and toddlers to grandparents; everyone joined in on the festivities. At the end of the night, it was all capped off with fireworks (picture 5).

In our groups, we talked about what some of the differences were between Portugal and the United States that we saw from our first few days. We realized that Portuguese people do not talk much about terrorism; they have much stricter laws on weapons; and, we did not really see many police officers at the festival the night before. It seems like they try not to let the media talk about terrorism, because, that way, the terrorists cannot get national attention, at least not in Portugal. The United States will always be able to learn a thing or two from other countries, but the United States can also teach a few things.

Picture1

Castle in Guimaraes, Portugal

 

Picture2

Fireworks at the Festa de São João

————

CTSS Internships, Fall 2016 – Applications due May 1st

Share Button

UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) is seeking highly motivated students to become involved in the CTSS Internship. CTSS is offering one 3-credit internship (CRIM 4960) that focuses on issues of terrorism and counter-terrorism in the United States. This internship give students applied experience of collecting, coding and analyzing data on terrorist offenders and terrorist attacks.

Click Here for Complete Details

 

JM Berger visit to Lowell

Share Button

ISIS: The State of Terror, with J.M. Berger
Author’s book signing and discussion

When: April 13th, 7pm
Where: HyperText Bookstore, 107 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852
https://www.facebook.com/events/431212393737880/

J.M. Berger is a fellow with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. He is researcher, analyst and consultant, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and use of social media. Berger is co-author of the critically acclaimed ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern and author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement. Berger publishes the web site Intelwire.com and has written for Politico, The Atlantic and Foreign Policy, among others. He was previously a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and an associate fellow with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation.

Recent media appearances

Share Button

Here are some recent media appearances and quotes by CTSS team members:

 

Neil Shortland, interview on Al-Jazeera English (Dec. 7, 2015)
http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=40088792-0cf8-4a7d-9c62-db9f8e8ec86e

Joel Day, interview on TRI World (Nov. 19, 2015)

 

Neil Shortland, interview on Al-Jazeera English (Dec. 3, 2015)
http://mms.tveyes.com/PlaybackPortal.aspx?SavedEditID=12a8e20e-2f76-47bb-ae35-8d7a8752c8e0

James Forest, Daily Beast interview (Nov. 24, 2015)
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/11/24/experts-yes-anti-refugee-rhetoric-helps-isis.html

Joel Day, Radio Interview, “Terrorism Expert Weighs In on Paris Attacks.” KGO News San Francisco (ABC), November 16, 2015.  http://www.kgoradio.com/2015/11/16/joel-day-interview-islamic-state-group-expert/

Joel Day, Television Interview, “U.S. Remains Vigilant In Investigating ISIS After Paris Attacks,” WHDH Chanel 7 News (NBC) November 16, 2015.   http://www.whdh.com/story/30532752/us-remains-vigilant-in-investigating-isis-after-paris-attacks

Continue reading

Terrorist Magazines Report

Share Button

Online Terrorist Magazines:
A report from the Cyberterrorism Project (Swansea) in collaboration with UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism & Security Studies:
http://www.cyberterrorism-project.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CTP-2015-Report-Nov-03.pdf

Law Enforcement Job Websites

Share Button

Here are a few links (courtesy of Dave Twomey, a Ph.D. student in the Ph.D. program, Terrorism Studies Option) for people who are interested in a career in municipal and state law enforcement. We’ll post more links and other resources here as they are sent to us via email: ctss@uml.edu.

ISSS Reception Slideshow “About the CTSS”

Share Button

Here is the Powerpoint slideshow that we presented during the CTSS-sponsored reception at the 2015 meeting of the International Security Studies Section/International Security and Arms Control in Springfield, MA.

Slideshow for ISSS-ISAC 2015

Spring 2016 Courses

Share Button

Here is a list of the undergraduate and graduate courses in terrorism and security studies offered at UMass Lowell in the Spring 2016 semester.

UNDERGRADUATE:  On-Campus

  • CRIM1150.201: Introduction to Homeland Security (J. Yurcak) – Mon/Wed/Fri 8-8:50am
  • CRIM1150.202: Introduction to Homeland Security (J. Yurcak) – Mon/Wed/Fri 9-9:50am
  • CRIM2130.201: Emergency Management (G. Gordon) – Mon/Wed 2-3:15pm
  • CRIM2130.202: Emergency Management (G. Gordon) – Mon/Wed 3:30-4:45pm
  • CRIM2480.201: Terrorism (International and Domestic) (J. Dmello) – Tues/Thurs 3:30-4:45pm
  • CRIM2480.202: Terrorism (International and Domestic) (O. Zmiri) – Mon/Wed/Fri 12:00-12:50pm
  • CRIM2480.301: Terrorism (International and Domestic) (J. Day) – Tues/Thurs 2:00-3:15pm
  • CRIM3120.201: Security Management (M. Beaudry) – Mon/Wed/Fri 8-8:50am

Continue reading

DHS Summer Internship Opportunity

Share Button

**********
DHS Summer Internship Opportunity for STEM majors
Application deadline is December 16, 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate sponsors a 10-week summer internship program for students majoring in homeland security related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (HS-STEM) Disciplines. The program provides students with quality research experiences at federal research facilities located across the country and allows students the opportunity to establish connections with DHS professionals. It is open to undergraduate and graduate students in a broad spectrum of HS-STEM Disciplines and DHS mission-relevant Research Areas. The ultimate goal of the program is to engage a diverse, educated and skilled pool of scientists and engineers in HS-STEM areas and to promote long-term relationships between students, researchers, DHS and research facilities to enhance the HS-STEM workforce.

More information is provided online at:
http://www.orau.gov/dhseducation/internships/

*****************