From Global to National Security: Emerging Trends and Challenges

The Centre for Continuing Education’s Security and Policy Institute has partnered with the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa to offer an intensive, one-week program on global and national security. The course is open to interested professionals and members of the public, upon application. The course will take place the week of August 13-19, 2017 on the University of Ottawa campus.

Course Overview:

The course will seek to introduce participants to an understanding of some of the key challenges facing the global system from security threats. It will address the ways in which those challenges impact on Canadian national security.

    The course will be led by Professor Wesley Wark, one of Canada’s leading experts on security and intelligence issues. Invited guest experts will join the course for selected topics. The learning environment is a unique feature of the summer program course. There will be an emphasis on seminar style presentations and discussions to maximize participant engagement. 

    Course Agenda and Modules:

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    Module 19 a.m. to 12 p.m. - The International Security Environment

    We live in a world of rapidly changing threats to our security, a world vastly different from that of the Cold War.  While state actor threats persist, the international security environment now includes threats posed by non-state actor groups, such as terrorist organisations, threats generated by the effects of globalization, and looming problems to the environment. This module tries to address a fundamental question—what do we now mean by “global security.”

    Brown Bag Lunch, 12:00 noon to 1:00.

    Module 2: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. - The Canadian Security Environment

    Canada has traditionally thought of itself as living in a security safe space. This assumption has been challenged by changes to the global security environment in recent decades as well as the role that Canada has played internationally.  In this module we try to understand the linkages between global security and national security, and come up with a working understanding of what the key challenges to Canadian national security might be, now and stretching into the future.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    Module 3: 9 p.m. to 12 p.m. - Terrorism: A Global Survey

    Terrorism has emerged as a significant global security threat, leading to instability, state failures, stresses on state foreign and domestic policies, violence at home and abroad, sectarian divides and near civil wars. While terrorism is not new, it has a new face and poses a new kind of threat to global peace. The strategies of key terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and Daehs (the “Islamic State”)  are probed to try to understand the nature of this threat

    Brown Bag lunch, 12:00 noon to 1:00

    Module 4: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. - Terrorism at Home: The Canadian Experience and Response

    Canada’s historical experience of terrorism involved concerns about the importation of homeland conflicts from abroad.  Our current experience is fundamentally different, involving the challenges of dealing with attacks undertaken by individuals or small groups in Canada inspired by the ideology and strategic messaging of overseas groups.  This module explores the contemporary terrorism threat within Canada and the complex mix of national and international actions that might be required to fully meet that threat.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    Module 5: 9 a.m. to 12p.m. - The New World of Global Espionage

    Spying is an ancient practice that has been fundamentally transformed by new technologies, new opportunities, new actors, and the new shape of the global security environment. Espionage is no longer a monopoly of the state and is no longer simply about stealing state secrets.  We are witnessing the expansion of the spy game and the arrival of full-on ‘influence operations,’ designed not to understand an adversary but to change an adversary’s behavior or limit its power.  More intensive spying of all kinds promises the potential of greater global security, and at the same time of much less global stability.

    Brown Bag Lunch, 12:00 noon to 1:00

    Module 6: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. - Canada’s Spy Establishment

    Canada deploys intelligence gathering both at home and abroad, to be serve the national interest and sustain national  security.  This effort has gown substantially since 9/11 with new resources, new organisations, new powers, and new challenges. New commitments have been made to increase Canada’s spy capabilities further, to meet global challenges.  One big question is whether Canada pivots from domestic to international intelligence gathering in the face of the new global security environment.

    Public Lecture:  7 p.m. to 9 p.m. - Tales from the Secret Crypt:  The Story of KGB Cold War Espionage in Canada

    Donald Mahar will deliver a public lecture based on his new book, Shattered Illusions.  It tells the remarkable story of KGB operations in Canada, and of a Soviet spy who defected to work for the Canadian security service, only to be betrayed from within. The “Brik” case rivals in significance and drama the better know story of the defection  of Igor Gouzenko at the start of the Cold War. Donald Mahar is a former senior CSIS officer with direct experience of the Brik case who is able to deliver the details of this operational history in a way never heard before.  He will be introduced by the former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Ward Elcock.

    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    Module 7: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. - Global Cyber: From Information to Aggression

    New cyber capabilities in the global information space have opened up a range of threats, from all-out cyber warfare, to cyber criminality, cyber espionage, influence operations and cyber covert operations.  The range of threats is dramatic and new, and global institutions and global diplomacy are finding them hard to cope with. Can this cyber “wild west” be effectively moderated and tamed by global action, and what harms does it pose, now and in the future, including to the freedom of the internet, if not?

    Brown Bag Lunch, 12:00 noon to 1:00

    Module 8: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. - Canadian Cyber Security and Threats

    In 2011, the Canadian government issued its first ever Cyber Security Strategy.  Changes to the nature of the cyber universe and its threats rapidly outpaced this strategy. What are Canadian capacities and policies designed to deal with the new forms of cyber threats?  How effective are they?  Do the terms cyber defence and offence make sense? Are we leaning towards a future in which offense is the new defence?  What would a new cyber security strategy for Canada look like?

    Friday, August 18, 2017

    Module 9: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. - The Security-Rights Balance in Western Democracies 

    One of the most challenging features of dealing with new global and domestic security threats is the maintenance of the critical balance in protecting both democratic rights and security. This module explores the nature of that balance and the societal elements that contribute to it, including governance, democratic institutions, the rule of law, public culture, and resilience.

    Lunch and Experts Roundtable: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

    Course participants are invited to attend a Q and A session with government officials addressing some of the core topics addressed in the course.  The Q and A session will be moderated by Professor Wark and led by the University students enrolled in the course for University credit.

    Module 101:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. - The Canadian context:  Democratic Accountability for Security and Intelligence

    One of the ways in which security powers can be controlled and the balance achieved between security and rights protections is through strong review and accountability mechanisms.  The current Liberal government in Canada is engaged in a fundamental overhaul of  the system of security and intelligence review system in Canada, including a new role for Parliament.  This module will explore the evolution of the Canadian practice of accountability and seek to assess the new measures that are being introduced.  Will they make us safer? Will they make us more cognizant of our rights and their protections?

    Saturday, August 19, 2017

    Module 11: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. - The Future of Security and Insecurity

    We will explore future scenarios for global security and insecurity, including those produced by US and Canadian intelligence, in an effort to understand trends and how they might be met by old and new security responses.  Is the crystal ball scary, or reassuring, or might it be both?

    Prospective Participants

    The course is also open to professionals and interested members of the public who can join for the entire week or choose to study specific topics, depending on interest. The topics are identified in numbered modules, which can be taken independently or in clusters.

    Prospective participants are asked to fill out a brief application form indicating their interest in the course and their background, and to submit it by email at

    Program Topics

    Among the topics to be covered will be the following:

    • The global and Canadian security environments
    • Terrorism and Counter-terrorism
    • Espionage and its impacts
    • The Canadian intelligence and security system
    • Cyber aggression and cyber security
    • Security and democracy
    • The Future of security and insecurity
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