Head of National Security Studies Center, Dan Schueftan, explains what he expects from his prospective and present students
Interview and blog post conducted by Asja Francisti, student in the National Security Studies international master’s program, class of 2015-2016.
Choosing the right master program may prove to be one of the difficult academic decisions, but one of the things that might make it easier would be understanding why a certain program would choose you. In my earlier blog post, Dan Schueftan elaborated on a few things about the master’s program in National Security Studies, considering the unique experience and set of skills one can obtain in Israel and at the University of Haifa.
But what is it that you have to offer? While being qualified, coming from respectable educational institutions, and having high grades are among necessary requirements, meeting them is not sufficient.
“More than anything, I want students to show me that they are curious. I want people to come with an open mind and willingness to challenge everything they hear. Most of the issues we are learning about carry very serious value and factual questions that are debatable. I want a student who will not let me manipulate them, even when it’s not my intention. I want to hear them say – hey, wait a minute, I have a different conclusion.”
In many places, nodding your head or agreeing may get you to a good grade, but in National Security, the critical approach may be a safer route.
“One of my students chose to write a paper about the book that I’ve written. He completely disintegrated it with criticism, and I actually thought it was fun, a very good job that earned him the grade 95. I may not agree with him, which is legitimate, but what impressed me were the instruments of analysis and the mechanisms he was using. It was a proof that what I am trying to encourage in class worked very well,” Dan recalls.
Coming back to what papers say about potential students, one of the valuable assets of future National Security students is not only the ability to learn, but also to teach.
“It is good when students bring certain knowledge from their own respective fields. It’s a joy to teach in an environment of challenge, it can lead us to something that neither of us knew before. Otherwise it’s not good for students and it also bores me to death”, says Schueftan.
The practical aspect of the program is emphasized every step along the way, which is why finding a job in a broad field of National Security is one of the goals both for the professors and students.
“I am not only interested in what people have done, but also in what they want to do. We’ve been very successful so far finding employment for our students, and we hope to continue the same way.”
For now, let that success serve as an assurance that the right people choose this program, and that, through its unique dynamics, this program choses the right people as well.