Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Choices Program Builds Security Matrix for High Schools

January 27, 2011

The Choices Program has produced a new edition of the Global Security Matrix designed specifically for secondary school students.

Watson Institute Professor James Der Derian and his team built the original matrix as an interactive online tool for assessing threats to security. Initially aimed at an audience already well versed in the complexities of security and its discourses, the matrix has now been adapted by the Choices Program for use in high school classrooms.

As such, the matrix uses video, text, and images to help students explore a range of threats as they play out across the layers of the international system.

The matrix is designed to help students:
• Explore the concept of security;
• Consider threats to security and how they affect a range of actors from individuals to global society;
• Identify and assess media sources’ coverage of security; and
• Rank threats to security and explore how these threats might be addressed.

These numbers help describe the new matrix:
92. It has 92 short video clips of scholars that help students understand and think further about the security issues raised in the boxes. 84 of the videos were produced by Choices.
8. The matrix identifies and defines eight different broad threats to security.
5. It identifies and defines five different actors and their relationship to international security.
40. It explains in 40 different boxes the effect of each threat on each of the five actors.
125. It contains 125 annotated weblinks to external resources that allow for further exploration the issues raised in the 40 different boxes.
95. It has 95 images with detailed captions that help explain and shed light on the different security threats in the boxes.

The matrix poses some challenging questions: What makes us safe? What threatens us? What do we mean by “us”?

It adds to the growing range of digital offerings of the Choices Program, an affiliate of the Watson Institute that develops secondary school instructional materials on current and historical international issues and provides related professional development for teachers. Choices has produced a library of over 35 curriculum units and extensive supplemental information online.

Both the initial matrix and the new version for secondary schools were supported by the Carnegie Corp. of New York.