A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Envisioning the Maryland Academy for Innovation in National Security

UMD and UMB’s Maryland Academy would provide unique opportunities for FBI.


On Tuesday, Sept. 13, the presidents of the University of Maryland’s College Park and Baltimore campuses announced plans for the Maryland Academy for Innovation in National Security at a “Whistle Stop Tour” event at the Greenbelt Metro Station. The Maryland Academy will leverage existing national security-relevant capabilities from each university to integrate capacity-building research, workforce development and training efforts, and the opportunity to mentor and recruit the next generation national security professionals.Image of Dr. Wallace Low announcing the Maryland Academy for Innovation in National Security

Key among these national security resources is the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), which is housed within UMCP’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS).

At the event, remarks were offered by President Wallace Loh, University of Maryland, Baltimore President Jay Perman, and by University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret. BSOS Dean Gregory Ball and START’s Gary LaFree and William Braniff were also present to announce this new MPowering the State national security collaboration and discuss the opportunity to relocate FBI Headquarters to Maryland.

“This national security partnership to establish the Maryland Academy for Innovation in National Security would provide the world’s preeminent law-enforcement organization with a continuous pipeline of pioneering research and access to a world-class regional workforce,” said President Wallace Loh. “This is an exciting joint initiative that leverages our collective research and talent in an effort to help foster continuous innovation at the FBI.” 

Designed to serve as a strategic partner for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the broader national security community, the Maryland Academy aims to conduct highly relevant basic and applied research, incorporate the FBI’s experiential knowledge with empirically based findings to generate professional training programs, cultivate the necessary skillsets of future FBI employees, and offer world-class educational opportunities for FBI personnel during their tenure at FBI headquarters and beyond.

“We are excited to be a part of this innovative and collaborative venture,” Dean Ball said. “Through START and through security and policy research in a number of our disciplines, strengthening national security now and in the future is an important priority for our College.”

Capacity-building research

The Maryland Academy will leverage the universities’ expertise in terrorism and counterterrorism studies, national security law, cybersecurity and high performance computing, criminology and criminal justice, intelligence analysis, leadership, illicit trafficking, medicine and medical forensics, critical national security languages, homeland security and crisis management.

Image of William Braniff announcing the Maryland AcademyAt the center of the Maryland Academy are START and the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS). START is the world’s largest unclassified terrorism research, education and training center and seeks to advance science-based knowledge about the human causes and consequences of terrorism and serve as a leading resource for national security policy makers and practitioners through education, training and consultation. Established as a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence in 2005 and situated in BSOS, START has become the preeminent source of terrorism data for the United States Government, and routinely engages in applied research to help national security organizations solve problems and build capabilities.

“Given the FBI’s longstanding embrace of the sciences to advance their law enforcement mission, a partnership with START and other university-based resources to advance their national security mission makes great sense,” said Braniff, START’s executive director. “And START is certainly poised to help given the last eleven years of experience working with counterterrorism professionals.”

CHHS works side-by-side with the nation’s top emergency responders in the public and private sector to deliver expertise in crisis management planning, training and the development and execution of table-top and full-scale exercises testing the readiness of public institutions to respond to terror attacks, deadly and fast moving emerging infectious diseases, and overwhelming adverse weather conditions. CHHS also regularly advises and trains prosecutors and judges on legal, evidentiary, and procedural issues that arise in counterterrorism investigations or prosecutions; or in dealing with legal and policy responses to the rapid spread of deadly infectious viral diseases such as Ebola and Zika.

Integrating these and other schools, centers and programs—such as the Baltimore campus’s Carey School of Law, School of Medicine and the College Park campus’s School of Public Policy, the Center for the Advanced Study of Languages (CASL), the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2) and the Smith School of Business—the Maryland Academy will develop cutting-edge multidisciplinary methods, generate the best national security data in the world, and analyze that data in order to generate practical insights for the FBI and the greater national security community.

"UMB is excited to bring its assets to this Academy: our Carey School of Law, with its deep expertise and programs in crisis management, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism; the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, a leader in all aspects of national security and emergency response; and our essential biomedical capabilities, including unrivaled experience in forensic genomic analysis and viral detection, prevention, and treatment,” President Jay Perman said. “Partnering with our colleagues in College Park, we can establish an innovation hub that advances the FBI’s mission and protects this country’s national security interests."

Workforce development

Reflecting the FBI’s strategic objective to invest in its human capital, the Maryland Academy would augment the experience of FBI personnel by providing professional education opportunities ranging from workshops to online simulations to various graduate degree programs tailored to the FBI’s needs and a practitioner-focused doctoral program.

START students listen to announcement of Maryland AcademyAdditionally, the Maryland Academy aims to host Practitioners in Residence for sabbaticals sponsored by the FBI’s Leadership Development Institute. Working with the resources available at the Maryland Academy and the broader universities, these individuals can inform the research, education and training efforts underway in areas of critical importance for the FBI, while actively identifying new opportunities for collaboration and identifying the most promising undergraduate and graduate students for recruitment into the FBI. 

The Maryland Academy will also provide opportunities for the FBI to harness its own experiential knowledge, capturing FBI expertise through collaborative programming and disseminating it through publications and education and training initiatives for new FBI personnel, other federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement professionals, and international partners.

Mentoring and recruiting

“The Maryland Academy will further strengthen the strategic partnership between Maryland’s largest public research universities and offer the FBI unparalleled access to innovative research, subject matter expertise, and a pipeline of world-class talent,” Chancellor Robert Caret said.

Working with leadership at the FBI, the Maryland Academy will work to develop its classrooms and curricula to meet the needs of a rapidly changing threat environment. As graduate students and undergraduates, students can take part in robust internship programs, working on real-world projects and collaborating with practitioners and researchers in a novel experiential learning setting. The Maryland Academy will also offer lectures, seminars and briefings to further enhance the student experience.

Through the Maryland Academy the FBI would be able to mentor and recruit from a student-body of undergraduate and graduate students immersed in multidisciplinary analysis and problem solving pertaining to the issues most pressing to the Bureau. The FBI will also be able to participate directly in teaching and advising these students through adjunct teaching opportunities and partnership on research efforts.