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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

NGA Provides GEOINT Edu Grant to Historically Black College

Early in August Fayetteville State University (FSU) received a five-year $443,000 research grant from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to develop a Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) certificate to be offered to students pursuing undergraduate degrees in geography, computer science, and intelligence studies (press release). The four recipients of the grant are part of the university's Center for Defense and Homeland Security (CDHS).

I didn't realize FSU was a historically black college or university (HBCU) until another educator pointed it out. The certificate will be the first of its kind at an HBCU and FSU intends for its work to become a template for other schools interested in pursuing such offerings (press release).

The two year grant with three one year add-ons has several goals:
  • develop courses for the GEOINT certificate 
  • establish a geospatial teaching laboratory 
  • obtain certificate accredited from the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) 
  • develop an online component for the program 
  • expand the certificate to include allied programs such as Political Science
Currently, the university offers a B.A. and a minor in Geography and has three faculty members in the department. That said, the list of geography courses (which fall under History and Government) is quite long. I count four that deal with computer cartography and GIS. There's one remote sensing, course, too.

FSU, I have learned, is the second-oldest public institution in North Carolina., part of the University of North Carolina System. It serves about 6,000 students and offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Trajectory Magazine (from the USGIF) reports that the GEOINT program lead, Dr. Rakesh Malhotra, is a member of the USGIF Academic Advisory Board. Several other members of that board are involved in GEOINT programs at other universities.

The NGA includes HBCU grants among its academic research program, but does not cite this grant anywhere on its website, at least not yet.

Jeremy Crampton, at his Open Geography blog asks a number of questions about grants in general in the context of this announcement:
Would you take $443,000 from the government to build a Certificate Program? What about from a government intelligence agency?
This grant and the program it creates support a number of firsts for HBCUs, geospatial, NGA, USGIF, GEOINT and geo education. Many eyes will be watching its progress.