• If you want to know how to stop school shootings, ask the Secret Service

    While President Donald Trump has not shied away from offering suggestions on how to prevent school shootings – including one controversial idea to arm teachers – what often gets overlooked in the conversation is research on the subject that has already been done. This research includes one major study of school shootings conducted in part by the very agency charged with protecting the president of the United States himself - the U.S. Secret Service. Has this research been ignored or just forgotten?

  • Anti-Semitic incidents surged nearly 60% in 2017: ADL report

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a new report today that the number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s. The sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

  • Why Trump’s idea to arm teachers may miss the mark

    President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers has sparked substantial public debate. As researchers of consumer culture and lead authors of a recent study of how Americans use and view firearms for self-defense, we argue that while carrying a gun may reduce the risk of being powerless during an attack, it also introduces substantial and overlooked risks to the carrier and others. Despite the widespread news coverage of mass shootings at schools, the reality is that school shootings are still a rare occurrence. In an FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents that FBI identified between 2000 and 2013, 27 – or about 17 percent – occurred at elementary, middle, and high schools. Given that rarity, the challenges of effectively using a gun to neutralize a shooter without taking additional lives, and added day-to-day risks, we argue that Trump’s proposal would not be effective in making schools safer overall for teachers or students.

  • Why security measures won’t stop school shootings

    When deadly school shootings like the one that took place on Valentine’s Day in Broward County, Florida occur, often they are followed by calls for more stringent security measures. While some of these measures seem sensible, overall there is little empirical evidence that such security measures decrease the likelihood of school shootings. Surveillance cameras were powerless to stop the carnage in Columbine and school lock-down policies did not save the children at Sandy Hook. We believe what is missing from the discussion is the idea of an educational response. Current policy responses do not address the fundamental question of why so many mass shootings take place in schools. To answer this question, we need to get to the heart of how students experience school and the meaning that schools have in American life. It is time to think about school shootings not as a problem of security, but also as a problem of education.

  • Students to help DHS S&T tackle air travel security issues

    Students from James Madison University (JMU) will be tackling air travel security issues for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) as part of their spring semester of the Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) class. The H4D team will look for innovative approaches that will enable the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to be able to associate passengers with their personal belongings.

  • Alarming increase in white supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses

    New data released Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows an alarming increase in white supremacist propaganda on U.S. college campuses during the 2017 fall semester. Since 1 September 2016, ADL’s Center on Extremism has recorded 346 incidents where white supremacists have used fliers, stickers, banners, and posters to spread their message. These incidents targeted 216 college campuses — from Ivy League schools to local community colleges — in 44 states and Washington, D.C. During the fall semester of 2017 (1 September through 31 December), there were 147 such incidents, a staggering 258 percent increase over the 41 incidents that took place during the fall semester of 2016.

  • NSF awards nearly $5.7 million to protect U.S. cyberspace

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently gave the nation’s cybersecurity professionals a boost with the inclusion of four new universities into its CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. NSF awarded nearly $5.7 million, with an expected total of almost $16.6 million over the next five years, to universities in Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana, and Texas. The schools will use the money to provide scholarships consisting of full tuition and a stipend up to $34,000 to individuals willing to work after graduation in a cybersecurity position for federal, state, local or tribal governments.

  • Gulf Coast universities team up to address hurricane resilience

    A new multi-institution research center will focus on helping the Gulf coast do better at preparing for and mitigating the damage and loss of lives from hurricanes and other severe storms. The Hurricane Resilience Research Institute (HuRRI) draws upon the strengths of its seven participating universities, from flood mitigation and hurricane modeling to public policy.

  • “Hacking for Defense” class an example of Stanford’s relationship with the U.S. military

    Alongside all the tech companies and consulting firms present at career fairs, Stanford students looking for employment are likely to encounter another major industry when talking to recruiters: the defense sector. Although anti-war activism in the Vietnam era severed many of the university’s ties with the U.S. military, the relationship between the two has seen a revival over the years, and national security and defense institutions are more visible on campus now than they were just a decade ago. A relatively new class, MS&E 297, adds yet another wrinkle to that ongoing narrative – and one that not everyone is happy about.

  • Effective counter-messaging strategies to check terrorist recruitment

    The Department of Defense has awarded four social science professors $794,000 to research the effects of extremist propaganda on different personality types, as well as the effects of different counter-messaging strategies. The research will answer basic questions about the effects of exposure to online extremist messages and counter-messages, such as: What kind of messaging is most effective? What are the short- and medium-term results of exposure to extremist messages and counter-messages? What personality characteristics in viewers make them more or less receptive to different kinds of messages?

  • Explaining differences in climate change views among college graduates

    The average American college student has just a 17 percent chance of learning about climate change before graduation through required core courses. The finding may help explain why having a bachelor’s degree doesn’t always lead to increased acceptance of human-caused global warming, according to new research.

  • Mass casualty training to prepare students for the worst

    Screams were heard as a runaway car plowed through a crowd before the vehicle crashed and the wreckage was engulfed in flames. The chaos was heightened by the sirens from fire trucks and ambulances rushing to the scene. After firefighter cadets from the Houston Fire Department (HFD) subdued the flames, more than 300 students and volunteers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) rushed onto the smoky field, ready to triage and respond to those injured in the accident. Fortunately, the casualties that played out were all part of a well-scripted scenario, staged at the Houston Fire Department’s Val Jahnke Training Facility, and orchestrated weeks in advance.

  • MSU urged to pull the plug on an “eco-terrorism” video game

    Michigan State University’s award-winning computer game development lab has developed a new computer game called “Thunderbird Strike.” Dr. Elizabeth LaPensee, the game’s designer, says that, among other things, the game is designed to “bring awareness to pipeline issues and contribute to the discontinuation of [Enbridge’s] Line 5.” Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that travels through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. In the game, players get to blow up pipelines. Oil industry officials argue that the game, in effect, encourages players to engage in acts of domestic terrorism.

  • Boys involved in school shooting struggle to live up to ideals of masculinity

    Boys involved in school shootings often struggle to live up to what they perceive as their school’s ideals surrounding masculinity. When socially shunned at school, they develop deep-set grudges against their classmates and teachers. The shooters become increasingly angry, depressed, and more violent in their gendered practice. A shooting rampage is their ultimate performance, says a researcher. The researcher suggests schools should address adolescent masculinity issues to help prevent rampage shootings.

  • Software “containers” increase computer security

    ONR has awarded the University of Wisconsin–Madison $6.1 million to research what are known as containers. While not a household word for average computer users, containers are increasingly popular in the tech world. Containers help software run reliably when moved from one computing environment to another, such as from an individual’s laptop to the cloud. These complex programs pull together everything an application needs to work so those elements stay together when the application migrates.