THE MAGAZINE

Think Tank Perspective: An Interview with Dr. Stephen Flynn

By Matthew Harwood

I have also come to recognize that when people get involved in dealing with risk and threats, they get less afraid, which is really important with dealing with the terrorist threat. Societal resilience has prevention value because the objective of our adversaries is to create the maximum fear and disruption from their attacks. So the less afraid we are and the quicker we can bounce back, the less value terrorism has as a way to attack American society. We end up protecting ourselves that way. And I honestly believe the vast majority of Americans will respond to that call.

You moved from the Center for National Policy to become founding co-director of the new George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at Northeastern University. What do you hope to accomplish there? What homeland security research areas will you focus the institute’s attention?

One of our focuses will be how do we make critical infrastructure more resilient in the face of likely risks. The institute will accomplish this by creating a collaborative and secure environment where researchers from both the hard and soft sciences can work with industry and government officials. Academics can’t operate in a vacuum. They need to interact with the end-users from the public sector and private sector so that innovative solutions can be matched with specific needs and requirements. This is especially the case when it comes to community resilience and infrastructure resilience.

To facilitate this, the institute is set up to handle both open research and also classified work. Our objective is to find solutions that can be widely adopted by community leaders and critical infrastructure owners and operators. We will begin by focusing on the challenges associated with securing the electric grid in the face of the growing cyber threat and participating in initiatives to improve community and campus resilience.

 

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