National Security Education Program (NSEP) & Diversity:


The Nation Security Education Program, established in 1991, is housed in the Dept. of Defense’s National Defense University, and administered by two private non-profit agencies (Institute of International Education and Academy for Educational Development. The mission of the program is framed very much in terms of international diversity and multicultural concerns; the program “addresses the need to increase the ability of Americans to communicate and compete globally by knowing the languages and cultures of other countries,” (NSEP brochure), mainly in the developing world. Other NSEP materials addressing undergraduate students tell them “you will begin to acquire the international competence you need to communicate effectively across borders, understand other perspectives…” (International Institute of Education web site)

NSEP provides grants to study abroad for graduate and undergraduate students, which comes with a service requirement to work for a US government agency involved in national security affairs or US higher education, in that order. Eligible federal agencies include the Departments of Defense, Energy, Justice, State, and Commerce, and the intelligence community (e.g., CIA., NSA, etc.).


Trend speculation: In the wake of Sept. 11, this program may become increasingly popular. It already hands out hundreds of student grants per year.


Concern: Students studying abroad under the sponsorship of this program may face suspicions, hostility and even physical security risks in many parts of the developing world, should knowledge of their Pentagon link and national security-related work requirement be found out. Should such information be hidden and then found out, those would be even greater.  At the very least, students should be given information about this prospect so they do not naively put themselves in uncomfortable or risky situations.