UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — War abroad and terror at home. Emergency meetings with the president and National Security Council. Congressional hearings. Prime-time media coverage. Leaks and election-year politics. These are the issues lawyers working on U.S. national security policy deal with every day. While most students never get close to these real-world events, students taking an innovative Penn State Law course get the next best thing.
National Security Law II (Leadership in Crisis Simulation) takes students “inside the Beltway” without leaving University Park. The course is taught by Vice Admiral James W. Houck, who came to Penn State after serving as the judge advocate general of the Navy. After 32 years in the navy and four years as Penn State Law’s interim dean (2013 to 2017), Houck created the course to help students develop not only their national security knowledge, but their professional skills as well.
“I’ve heard people describe leadership, collaboration and communication as so-called ‘soft skills,’” Houck said. “In my experience, there’s nothing ‘soft’ about them — they’re core skills. New lawyers who can’t collaborate, communicate and lead will fall into a deep hole in their first jobs. This class creates a laboratory where students can develop these critical skills before joining their first employer.”