Cybersecurity in social studies class

By Anne Collier

Cybersecurity is in the news more and more. It’s a growing concern for law enforcement, and US companies are “increasing both the size and budget of their security teams,” CNBC reports. “By the end of 2014, JPMorgan’s annual cybersecurity budget will rise to $250 million from $200 million in 2012 … and the largest U.S. bank will have about 1,000 people focused on cybersecurity, compared with 600 people two years ago. The problem is, even this year, there’s “a shortage of more than a million security professionals across the globe,” according to a Cisco report cited in the Huffington Post.

In order to take those jobs in future, where should kids be getting cybersecurity basics now? In social studies class. Two education professors argue that young people’s understanding of cybersecurity can’t be left entirely to public awareness campaigns. In the March/April issue of the academic journal Social Education, Profs. Michael Berson and Ilene Berson at the University of South Florida, write that “the social sciences are central to the capacity of a nation to defend itself … [and] building the capacity of the next generation of social scientists to tackle these emerging issues is imperative.” In their article, they offer inquiry-based class activities for teachers. Inquiry 1 is about “the historical importance of codes and code-breaking,” the foundation of understanding cybersecurity. Inquiry 2 looks at the dynamic among the military, civilian law enforcement and citizens’ civil liberties in a democracy when a country faces a security threat.

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