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Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on National Security

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic posed new strategic challenges within the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, information (PMESII), and intelligence domains of nation-states. To analyze the implications of the pandemic’s impact on these domains and to explore their implications on national security the Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies, the College of Arts and Letters, the UNG Press, the Army Strategist Association, and the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute are pleased to announce a symposium on the topic for the purpose of contributing to the scholarly discussion of this complex and strategically challenging issue.

For the purpose of this symposium, national security is the safekeeping of the nation as a whole. Its highest order of business is the protection of the nation and its people from attack and other external dangers by maintaining armed forces and guarding state secrets. Because national security entails both national defense and the protection of a series of geopolitical, economic, and other interests, it affects not only defense policy, but foreign and other policies as well.

This site will be updated as planning progresses.

Disclaimer: Advertisements, promotions, statements and logos are those of the individual parties or other organizations participating in this event. The individual parties neither state nor imply any endorsement or recommendation with regard to these organizations.

Symposium Planning Group

Col (Ret) Billy Wells, Ed.D., UNG Senior Vice President for Leadership and Global Engagement
Eddie Mienie, Ph.D., Executive Director, Strategic Studies Program & Partnerships and Associate Professor of Strategic Studies & Security Studies
Bonnie (BJ) Robinson, Ph.D., Director, University of North Georgia Press
Keith Antonia, Ed.D., Associate Vice President for Military Programs
Heath Williams, Director of UNG Federal Liaison and Military Education Coordinator
Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff, Research Professor for Strategy, the Military Profession and Ethic Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College


April 7-8, 2021

Location - Hybrid

University of North Georgia
Dahlonega Campus
Convocation Center



No event or registration fee is required.


If you need closed captioning for this event, please email Keith Antonia or call 706 867-4576.


Participants may either attend in person or online via Zoom. The in-person option will accommodate 50 people with COVID risk-mitigation measures in place. Instructions for virtual participation will be included in the registration materials by mid-February.


Wednesday, April 7

All times U.S. Eastern Daylight Time

Time Event
8:00 a.m.

In-person check-in at the Convocation Center, Dahlonega Campus, University of North Georgia

8:30 a.m. Welcome Administrative Remarks
8:35 a.m. Opening Remarks 
8:45 a.m. Speaker: Professor Lindy Heinecken, Stellenbosch University
Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. "The Paradox of Framing COVID-19 as a National Security Threat" 
9:15 a.m. Questions and Answers
9:30 a.m. Break
9:45 a.m. Panel: Geopolitical Implications for National Security
10:45 a.m. Discussion and Questions and Answers
11:00 a.m. Break 
11:15 a.m. Speaker: Jason Schuette, Founder, Spectrum Advocates
"Cybercriminal Exploitation in the COVID-19 Environment"
11:45 a.m. Questions and Answers
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:45 p.m. Panel: Human and Health Security Implications for National Security
2:45 p.m. Discussion and Questions and Answers
3:00 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. Speaker: Laura Lane, Chief of Corporate Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Officer, UPS Global.
"Implications of the Pandemic on the Global Supply Chain"
3:45 p.m. Discussion and Questions and Answers
4:00 p.m. Break
4:15 p.m. Speaker: Raina MacIntyre, Professor or Global Biosecurity and Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellow at the Kirby Institute, University of South Wales, and adjunct professor at Arizona State University
4:45 p.m. Discussion and Questions and Answers
5:00 p.m. Writing contest story reading
5:30 p.m. Break
6:30 p.m. Symposium Social for In-person Participants at the Smith House in Downtown Dahlonega

Thursday, April 8

Time Event
8:15 a.m. In-person check-in at the Convocation Center, Dahlonega Campus, University of North Georgia
8:45 a.m. Welcome, administrative remarks 
9:00 a.m. Panel: Technological and Economic Security Implications for National Security
10:00 a.m. Discussion and Questions and Answers
10:15 a.m. Break
10:30 a.m. Speaker: Matthew Kralovec, Director of HawkEye360 ISR Solutions. "Protecting the Galapagos in your PJs: Impact and Opportunity from COVID-19"
11:00 a.m. Discussion and Questions and Answers
11:15 a.m. Individual Presentations by Scholars, Practitioners and Students
12:45 p.m. Lunch Break
1:30 p.m. Individual Presentations by Scholars, Practitioners and Students
3:30 p.m. Closing Remarks and End of Symposium

Mr. Jason Schuette
Founder, Spectrum Advocates, LLC

“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19.”
Description: Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General. A consequence of the Cyber Age, both the positive and negative, is the unfettered and unfiltered access to information. However, this is complicated by our growing sterilized virtual interpersonal existence. Consequently, each and every person, aka Cyber Persona, is often left without the normal support structure to better wade through the volume and veracity of this uncertainty. How can leaders in the 21st Century take the initiative and help others by creating an environment that reduces fear and thus vulnerability during times of worldwide or even localized uncertainty.
Jason Schuette, LtCol USMC (ret), enlisted in the Navy in 1986 where he was an undesignated Seaman and after bootcamp worked in the Boatswain’s Division onboard the USS Peoria until Jul 1987. With a previous nomination, during that assignment he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport Rhode Island and eventually went on to attend and graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992 with a B.S. in Computer Science. He also holds a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Behavior from Benedictine University.

Accepting his commission as a 2ndLt in the U.S. Marine Corps, Jason attended The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico during the remainder of 1992. He then entered flight training and eventually completed training in 1995 and qualified in the EA-6B in 1997. With over 2,000 hours in the EA-6B, Jason was designated a Weapons Training Instructor and flew in both Operations Allied Force and Iraqi Freedom as well as deployments and exercises in the Pacific theater. His one non-flying operational billet, from 2005 – 2006, was with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) augmenting the Air Officer and serving as their Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO). 

When not in operational billets flying the EA-6B, Jason’s career focused more on research and development (R&D) as well as acquisitions of new EW, aka electromagnetic spectrum operations (EMSO), technologies. From 2002 – 2005 he was assigned to VX-9 and served as the Operational Test Director for the Improved Capabilities (ICAP) III, receiver upgrade for the EA-6B, and participated in the early development efforts for the EA-18G. Leveraging his systems R&D and testing experience, his final assignments from 2009 to 2014 were centered in the National Capitol Region first as a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) EW requirements officer assigned to the Operations Navy (OPNAV) staff in the N88 Strike Aviation Division Directorate, and finally as the as the EW Branch Head within the Combat Development & Integration Command, Cyber & Electronic Warfare Integration Division. During those five years he participated and/or led numerous requirements documents efforts as well as diverse and innovative Service and Joint level integrated product teams (IPT). Those IPT conducted a wide range of budget, technical and operational analysis focused on efforts to implement organizational wide transformation of EMS, Cyberspace, and Information Operations related capabilities. The end state was the achievement of a vision to create distributed and networked technology solutions responsive to emerging MAGTF and Joint Service needs.

Upon retirement in 2014, Jason formed Spectrum Advocates, LLC.  Leveraging past experience, he supports R&D efforts and organizations focused on creating innovative EMSO, Cyberspace, and Information Operations technologies. Currently he is fulfilling the role of Science Engineering Technical Assistant (SETA) for various program managers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) where amongst other tasks he works directly with DoD operators on how to best integrate and transition technologies for operational use. Past research support includes the Advanced Radio Frequency Mapping program known as RadioMap. Current research projects include technologies to improve security and networking features on handheld devices, universal network control that autonomously considers intent, tactical EMSO, and adoption/modification of 5G networking technologies for military use.  

Professor Lindy Heinecken
Stellenbosch University, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

"The Paradox of Framing COVID-19 as a National Security Threat"

Professor Heinecken's research focuses on armed forces and society where she has published widely on a range of issues, including civil military relations, military unionism and defense transformation. Her current research focuses on gender integration, military recruitment and the effect of militarization on society. Her recent book is titled South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Military: Lost in Transition and Transformation. She serves on numerous academic boards, including the Council of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society (IUS) and is currently the President of the International Sociological Association (ISA) Armed Forces and Conflict Resolution Research Committee (RC01). She is National Research Foundation B rated researcher. She is also a Certified Sociological Practitioner, Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology accredited by the International Sociological Association.

Raina MacIntyre

Raina MacIntyre
Professor of Global Biosecurity and Australian government National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellow at the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, and adjunct professor at Arizona State University

Raina MacIntyre is Professor of Global Biosecurity and National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellow at the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, and an adjunct professor at Arizona State University. She is a specialist physician with a masters and PhD in epidemiology. She leads a research program in control and prevention of infectious diseases, spanning epidemiology, risk analysis, vaccinology, bioterrorism, mathematical modelling, public health and clinical trials. She has over 350 peer reviewed publications and sits on several expert committees and editorial boards. Her awards including the Sir Henry Wellcome Medal and Prize from the Association of Military Surgeons of the US for her work on bioterrorism, the PHAA Immunisation Achievement Award, The CAPHIA Research Award and the Frank Fenner Award. She has pioneered concepts of biological threat detection using cross-disciplinary methods. Her current research focuses on vaccines (including smallpox), emerging infections, personal protective equipment, aerosol dynamics, dispersion of respiratory pathogens, and bioterrorism detection and prevention.

Laura Lane, UPS

Laura J. Lane
Chief Corporate Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Officer

"Implications of the Pandemic on the Global Supply Chain"

Laura Lane serves on UPS’s Executive Leadership Team. She reports directly to CEO Carol Tomé and oversees Public Policy and Government Affairs, Sustainability, Public Relations, Employee Communications and the UPS Foundation.

Laura began her UPS career as President, Global Public Affairs in 2011. In this role, she was responsible for worldwide government affairs and worked with partners across the enterprise to strengthen UPS growth and competitiveness, including successfully advocating for comprehensive tax reform; enhancing network efficiencies through infrastructure investments; securing alternative fuel credits in support of UPS’ sustainability agenda; modernizing trade agreements and customs processes; leveling the playing field with postal networks; facilitating UPS Flight Forward certification; and advocating for laws that promote equity and justice in the workplace.

Prior to joining UPS, Laura was Managing Director and Head of International Government Affairs at Citigroup.  Laura directed the day-to-day advocacy efforts of Citi’s international government affairs team. Before joining Citi, Ms. Lane was VP for Global Public Policy with Time Warner where she represented the company on the federal and international levels on all issues affecting Time Warner and its divisions.

In her government career, Ms. Lane served as a trade negotiator in the Executive Office of the President in the United States Trade Representative’s Office (USTR). In this role, she negotiated market access commitments on trade in services with China as part of its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and served as U.S. negotiator on the first-ever WTO Financial Services Agreement. She also managed bilateral trade affairs with the Middle East and the Mediterranean countries. 

Before joining USTR, Ms. Lane served in the U.S. Foreign Service from 1990-1997. She worked in the Trade Policy and Programs office in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1995-1997. She served as the State Department representative on the US Basic Telecommunications negotiating team, which concluded the first-ever global agreement on basic telecommunications in 1996. Ms. Lane also worked in the State Department Operations Center from 1994-1995 as watch officer under Secretary Warren Christopher.

In her overseas assignments, Ms. Lane was the economic and political-military affairs officer at the American Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda from 1993-1994.  She led the evacuation effort of American citizens from Rwanda in April 1994 with the outbreak of the civil war and returned in August as political advisor to U.S. forces providing humanitarian relief to Rwandan refugees. Laura subsequently delivered a TED talk on her experiences on “When to Follow your Heart and Write your own Rules” and shared her perspectives on the Rwandan genocide in the PBS/Frontline documentary “Ghosts of Rwanda.”  Ms. Lane also served as economic and consular officer in Bogota, Colombia from 1990-1992. In her state department career, she was the recipient of two Superior Honor awards and a Meritorious Honor award.

In her government advisory roles, Laura was reappointed as Chairman of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) from 2019-2021. She is also a member of the Board of UNHCR USA and previously served as Alternate US Delegate for the APEC Business Advisory Council from 2017-2019.   

In her private sector roles, Ms. Lane is Chairman of the International Policy Committee of the US Chamber of Commerce as a Member of the Board, Vice Chairman of the Board of the German American Business Council, and a member of the Board of the Atlantic Council, the US Global Leadership Coalition, the US-ASEAN Business Council and the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. She previously served as a Member of the Johnson & Johnson’s Global Public Health Advisory Council. Finally, in 2014 and again in 2016, she served as Corporate Chair of the Global Partnership Initiative for Refugees International and continues her volunteer efforts in support of refugees.

Ms. Lane was named again as Top Lobbyist in Washington DC by the Hill in 2019 and won the Women who Mean Business Award in 2018 from the Washington Business Journal.

Ms. Lane was born in Evanston, Illinois but grew up in Frankfurt, West Germany. She graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and history and summa cum laude from Georgetown University with a Master of Science degree in Foreign Service in International Economics and Business Diplomacy. Ms. Lane’s husband, Greg, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan, and at the American Embassies in Nicaragua and Colombia, and now is an electrical engineer at Parsons Inc. Ms. Lane and her husband have two daughters. She is a two-time Ironman triathlon finisher and active community volunteer.

Matthew Kralovec

Matthew Kralovec
Director, Hawkeye360 ISR Solutions

"Protecting the Galapagos in your PJs: Impact and Opportunity from COVID-19"

Matt graduated from Penn State University in 2003 with degrees in history and geography. From 2003 to 2014, Matt served multiple overseas deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations as a US Marine Corps intelligence officer. In 2014, Matt joined DigitalGlobe where he focused on ensuring commercial satellite imagery made it to the US government users who needed it most. Matt continues his service in the US Marine Corps reserve and is currently an adjunct faculty instructor at the National Intelligence University. As HawkEye 360’s Director of ISR Solutions, Matt focuses on ensuring HawkEye 360’s commercial radio frequency geolocation capabilities matter to critical national security missions.


Panel 1: Geopolitical Implications for National Security
April 7, 9:45 to 11:00 a.m.


Cadet Nikoloz Gvalia, Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy - Topic: "U.S. Helps West Deter COVID-19: Implications of National Security"

Cadet Nikoloz Gvalia
Cadet Nikoloz Gvalia Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy

The US Helps West Deter Covid-19: Implications on National Security

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a moving sacrifice of people and bestows an unparalleled hurdle to National Security. Along with versatile geopolitical and security obstacles, it had a remarkable impact across the globe that may quickly intensify into political destruction and instability. Considering the current vulnerability of new democracies in west, developing countries like the Republic of Georgia and Ukraine need US support not to be trapped in the pillars of Russian destabilizing propaganda. Georgian government has been pursuing close ties to the United States of America since 2009. Today, the US helps Georgia and other western post-soviet republics deter Covid-19 impacts on National Security and resulting threats from Russian Federation.

Nowadays, outer powers with destabilizing pursuits vividly utilize the opportunity to escalate the domestic political circumstances of Western nations and deplete them of unity and independence. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 is putting complicated National Security threats among the countries back into the spotlight. As for the recent democracies, it would be extremely hard and even impossible to cope with such difficulties if not the constant US support and mentorship against the dangers of the Kremlin politics. The significance of The United States of America when talking about the investigations on Russian cyberattacks, providing local Armies and service agencies with the latest equipment, monitoring and regulating the stable flow of the political environment, supporting the legitimacy and transparency of the elections and strengthening local agencies in exploring and eliminating the sources of disinformation and destabilization during the lockdown is priceless to the National Security of Georgia and countries with close partnerships with the US democracy. These contributions illustrate that from the beginning of the pandemic, the west has never lost the maintenance of the US government that has been expressing constant attention to the partners even when having drastic pandemic conditions, helping them overcome the tragedy of this unexpected enemy of the mankind.

Properly estimating the risks of the Hybrid Warfare during ongoing pandemic and maintaining strong coordination among the partner nations is key to tailor the harsh implications of the pandemic on National Security. The world’s leading governments as that of the USA are highly recommended to perceive their solid support for the developing countries in order to avoid them being dominated unwillingly in this extremely tentative living conditions and being unable to take over the geopolitical situation and National Defense and Security.

Although the world is experiencing notable recoveries in spring 2021, geopolitical implications of the new virus still poset great dangers for the west that is the direct object of Russia in terms of political, economic, and social vulnerabilities over the post-pandemic era. Providing profound analyses, we will outline the vitality of the United States of America in deterring current defense and security challenges in the west. We will assess the strategic cooperation merits for both sides of the partnership during pandemic. Eventually, we will point out the prospects of the cooperation and the potential outcomes the west is about to face with in the course of Covid-19 implications on National Security.


I am Cadet Nikoloz Gvalia. I am majoring in Defense and Security Studies at the National Defense Academy of Georgia. My primary interests lie in International Relations and Military Intelligence that I believe I can use to strengthen the strategic defense of Georgia the most. I long to become a worthy Army Officer and contribute to the unity and sovereignty of the Republic while also supporting US-Georgia Defense Cooperation.

As a first generation, 4.0 GPA student from socially disadvantaged, multi-child family originating from the Russian-occupied region of Abkhazia, I was always dedicated to service to protect people and avoid for them the obstacles I had to overcome in my life.

Despite war, distance, and material barriers, I always did my best on my own to build up the opportunities to be qualified, taking part in debates, GEO MUNs, NATO PAs and pursuing diverse extracurricular work along with academic excellence.

Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff, Army War College Strategic Studies Institute Research professor for Strategy, the Military Profession and Ethic - Topic: "Disaster Diplomacy and COVID-19"

Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff
Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff Research Professor for Strategy, the Military Profession and Ethic, Army War College Strategic Studies Institute

Disaster Diplomacy and COVID-19

In 1999, after decades of animosity driven a by a complex history, Greek and Turkish relations positively transformed almost overnight. The catalyst for this transformation was Turkish provision of rescue personnel and other assistance to Athens, which had been struck by a devastating earthquake. Of course, those efforts would not have been transformative had the foreign ministers of both Greece and Turkey not already been considering ways to improve relations. But had it not been for the crisis, the effects of those efforts may never have been felt.  

This example exemplifies “disaster diplomacy”: conditions where disasters can catalyze changes in state relations. Global efforts to create similar change during the COVID-19 virus, however, have not met with much success. This failure has as much to do with the nature of the virus as it does with the nature of the response. Getting disaster diplomacy right requires alignment of ends, means, and interests. Otherwise, it risks being perceived as exploitive or ineffective.   

US Global Response to COVID-19: Good intentions, bad results.   

The United States has conducted, with few positive results, its own disaster diplomacy as COVID-19 spreads, specifically targeting adversaries such as North Korea and Iran. While North Korea did not appear to outright reject the United States’ offer of assistance, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister said in a public statement, that such assistance would not improve relations. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali al Khamenei, more directly refused any US assistance, accusing it of using it to spread the disease. Echoing this sentiment, influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr preemptively rejected any vaccines that originated in the United States, despite the fact the virus has a 13 percent fatality rate in Iraq, one of the highest in the world. These examples do not suggest that US assistance has not been well-received elsewhere; however, where it has been, recipients have already had good relations with the United States. Such aid may have been important to reinforcing those relations, but it certainly was not “transformative.”  


Dr. C. Anthony Pfaff is the Research Professor for the Military Profession and Ethic at the U.S. Army War Colleges Strategic Studies Institute. A retired Army colonel, Dr. Pfaff recently served as Director for Iraq on the National Security Council Staff. While on active duty, he served on the Policy Planning Staff at the State Department, as the Defense Attaché in Baghdad, the Chief of International Military Affairs for US Army Central Command, and as the Defense Attaché in Kuwait. He served twice in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, once as the Deputy J2 for a Joint Special Operations Task Force and as the Senior Military Advisor for the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team. He also served as the Senior Intelligence Officer on the Iraq Intelligence Task Force and as a UN observer along the Iraq-Kuwait border. Dr. Pfaff has a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Economics from Washington and Lee University, a master’s degree in Philosophy from Stanford University; a master’s in National Resource Management from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces; and a Doctorate in Philosophy from Georgetown University.

Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz, Georgia Southern University professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics - Topic: "Why the Brazil 'Unwritten Alliance' Matters During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Its National Security Implications"

Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz
Dr. Jose de Arimateia da Cruz Professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics, Georgia Southern University

Why the Brazil "Unwritten Alliance" Matters During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Its National Security Implications

The global pandemic known as the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been wreaking havoc upon the world since it was first detected in Wuhan, China, at the end of December 2019. The disease rapidly spread to all provinces in China, as well as a number of countries overseas, and was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the Director-General of the World Health Organization on 30 January 2020. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) contends that the COVID-19 pandemic is having widespread economic, social, and political effects on Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with strong economic and political ties to the United States. Brazil has been particularly hit hard by COVID-19. It has become a global epicenter for the disease with the second most COVID-19 positive cases in the world after the United States. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced July 8, 2020, that he had contracted the virus.

Whether through naïveté or diplomatic hubris, Brazil seems to discount the realities of the international system of the twenty-first century. The post-Cold War world is more globalized and deeply interdependent than ever. What happens halfway around the world eventually has domestic implications, and the COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of this. Brazil cannot continue to go it alone. It will need the broader scientific community and the support of key partners to combat this deadly virus. The US Army can play an important role in this battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and ought to do everything within its capability to support Brazil’s fight against this deadly pandemic.

In conclusion, in this presentation, I will argue that the US Army should assist Brazil by sharing information of the ongoing illicit activities in the region, training the region’s militaries in public health response and epidemiology, and strengthening Brazil’s democratic institutions. The US Army can also use the full force of the Army’s Public Health Center (APHC) to assist Brazil while enhancing its global health diplomacy. As the APHC states on its website, their mission is to enhance Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats, developing and communicating public health solutions, and assuring the quality and effectiveness of the Army's Public Health Enterprise. The US Army, in the spirit of cooperation and partnership with Brazil, can prevent, detect, and respond to the pandemic. Doing so can slow or prevent COVID-19 from further spreading. The ultimate goal of the US Army as it supports Brazil is to enhance collaboration in the spirt of cooperation and equality among nations. This will create a post-pandemic world that is more secure, prosperous, and democratic in the Western Hemisphere for both the United States and Brazil.


Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz is Professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics at Georgia Southern University, Adjunct Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA., a Research Associate of the Brazil Research Unit at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) in Washington, D.C., a visiting professor at the Prague University of Economics and Business, Department of International and Diplomatic Studies and a visiting Professor at the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic.

Dr. da Cruz has been a visiting professor at the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at the School of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic. He has served as visiting professor at the University of Stavanger, Norway, La Serena Universidad in La Serena, Chile.

Dr. da Cruz holds a B.A. in Philosophy & Political Science from Wright State University, Dayton, OH; an M.A. in Professional Communications and Leadership from Armstrong State University, Savannah, GA; a M.A. in Political Science/Political Philosophy from Miami University, Oxford, OH; an M.S. in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in cyber affairs and information assurance from Armstrong State University, and Master of Public Health (MPH) with a focus on information technology from Georgia Southern University, Savannah, GA. Dr. da Cruz earned his Ph.D. in Political Science (majors in International Relations and Comparative Politics  and minor in International Communications) from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Dr. da Cruz is also a CISCO Certified CyberOps Officer, Certified INFOSEC Cybersecurity Administrator, Certified HIPAA Compliance Officer, a certified US Department of Homeland Security Military Resources in Emergency Management, and a Certified Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Cyber Intelligence. 

Linda Curika, Communications Officer at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence - Topic: "The Case for Teaching Digital Literacy in the Armed Forces"

Linda Curika
Linda Curika Communications Officer at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence

The Case for Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Armed Forces

The spread of misinformation and disinformation campaigns is a threat to service members, their families, and, by extension, national security. Especially, during the COVID-19 we have seen an unprecedented rise of misinformation, which has been also shared within social media accounts of service members and their families. Digital literacy is a necessary capability that any citizen needs to possess in the 21st century. To defend against new online threats as well as more effectively lead and communicate in this new battlespace, the force needs to fill this key missing part of its training. This article provides an overview of necessary skills for media literacy that would help protect armed forces in the digital arena.


Linda Curika currently works as a Communications Officer at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, reporting directly to the Director. She is a second-year Ph.D. Student in Education Science, and the focus of her thesis is media literacy. Linda is also the managing editor of the academic journal "Defence Strategic Communications". Her research interests are strategic communication, disinformation, media literacy and gender equality.


Dr. Dan Papp

Dr. Daniel S. Papp Consultant, Pendleton Group & Scholar of International Affairs and Policy, Former President of Kennesaw State University

Dr. Daniel S. Papp retired as President of Kennesaw State University (KSU) in 2016.  Since his retirement, he has served as President of Papp Consulting LLC.

During his 10 years as president, Papp led the consolidation of KSU and Southern Polytechnic State, making KSU one of the 50 largest U.S. universities; initiated its first doctoral programs; led KSU’s first capital campaign; added over $500 million of facilities; guided KSU into NCAA Division I athletics including intercollegiate football; expanded KSU’s external funded research; and doubled KSU’s study abroad program, including opening KSU’s first international campus.

Before becoming KSU President, Papp was Senior Vice Chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs of the University System of Georgia (USG); Interim President of Southern Polytechnic; Executive Assistant to the President of Georgia Tech; Founding Director of Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs; and Director of Tech’s School of Social Sciences.

Papp has been Senior Research Scholar at both the Center for Aerospace Doctrine of the Air War College and the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College.  The Army twice awarded him the “Outstanding Civilian Service” medal.  He also has been Visiting Professor at Western Australia Institute of Technology in Perth; Visiting Professor at Fudan University in Shanghai; and led study abroad programs to the Soviet Union, France, Germany, and Italy.   

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth College, Dr. Papp earned his Ph.D. in International Affairs from the University of Miami.  He is the author, co-author, or editor of 14 books and over 80 articles on U.S. and Soviet/Russian foreign policy and international relations, including former Secretary of State Dean Rusk’s autobiography, As I Saw It.

Panel 2: Human and Health Security Implications for National Security
April 7, 1:45 to 3:00 p.m.


Bashar Malkawi, University of Arizona Global Professor of Practice in Law - Topic: "Impact of the COVID-19 Emergency on Food Security"

Bashar Malkawi
Bashar Malkawi University of Arizona Global Professor of Practice in Law

Impact of the COVID-19 Emergency on Food Security

The COVID-19 health crisis has implications worldwide on different aspects of societies. Not only have countries adopted health measures to prevent the spread of the virus, but also implemented export restriction measures. These measures ranged from total bans on export of medical equipments to quota restrictions on agricultural products. The measures affected lives of millions and still counting. One particular area of concern is agriculture and food security. Countries are facing an ever increasing challenge to acquire adequate food. Although some parts of the world have been historically exporters of agricultural products, some other countries are dependent on staple food imports. Many countries post a trade deficit in farm products.

The paper focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on food security and implications for different countries. It also addresses these issues in light of World Trade Organization (WTO) discipline on agriculture.


Bashar H. Malkawi is Global Professor of Practice in Law at University of Arizona, where he currently teaches corporate law, business associations, and international trade law. He received his S.J.D from American University, Washington College of Law, and LLM in International Trade Law from University of Arizona. He is well-versed in teaching and providing legal advice with 20+ years' experience in private and public sectors.

Prof. Malkawi is a prolific scholar, whose work covers a variety of subjects, but with strong emphasis on the World Trade Organization, regional trade agreements, and business law. He has written over seventy articles for law reviews and professional publications, which have appeared in such top-tier journals as Journal of World Trade, Harvard Negotiation Law Review, and the American Journal of Comparative Law. In addition to his scholarship, Prof. Malkawi frequently consults for a wide array of international organizations, governments, and international law firms.

Ashley Olds, Army Strategist Association - Topic: "Crafting an Army Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic"

Ashley Olds
Ashley Olds Army Strategist Association

Crafting an Army Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over a year ago, in late January 2019, the Army began its initial crisis response effort to address the potential impacts of COVID-19. Within weeks, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the Army expanded its focus to include not only responding to the immediate challenges presented by the pathogen but also on the potential long term effects of COVID-19 on the force. I was one of the early members of the team tasked with developing the Army’s response to the pandemic – examining how the Army would adapt to continue its mission, “to deploy, fight, and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustained land dominance by Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict as part of the joint force.”

A portion of the Army was necessarily focused on the near-fight with COVID-19 through deploying Soldiers to support civil authorities, implementing safety measures on installations to protect the force and their families, and continuing operations around the world to support our national defense priorities. These Soldiers, Civilians, and contractors worked tirelessly 24/7 to keep the Army running. Simultaneously, a small group of us began to examine how the effects of COVID-19 would accumulate over time to create dilemmas for the force beyond the complications of a deadly virus. We looked to the Army Strategy’s lines of effort to frame our problem. We needed to understand how rapid changes around the world and within the Department would affect our people, readiness, modernization, and Allies and partners. Within the context of these lines of effort, we were then able to determine a prioritized list of the critical issues facing the future force. We assigned the appropriate organizations to the issues to enhance understanding and develop solutions for each priority challenge. The offices of primary responsibility collaborated with numerous coordinating agencies to develop a total Army response for review and approval by senior Army leaders.

The results of the early efforts of the Army COVID-19 Campaign Plan team were a series of operational planning teams, steering committees, and general officer-level synchronization forums that met each week. Every major command, service component command, direct reporting unit, and Army staff section had representation in the majority of the meetings. These forums provided the mechanism to receive updates on a rapidly evolving global operating environment, understand the emerging near to long-term problems for the Army, and provide time and space for senior leaders to make the necessary decisions to balance risk to mission and risk to force. By giving Army leaders time to react, we were able to effectively transition during a crisis and adapt to fulfill our mission.


Ashley Olds is an Army Strategic Planner (FA59) working in the Policy, Concepts, and Doctrine division of the Army Staff. Prior to becoming a strategist, Ashley was an operational advisor working extensively with conventional and special operations forces in the Middle East to identify emerging threats to U.S. forces and assist with security cooperation efforts. Major Olds also served as an Army Aviator, flying both air assault and MEDEVAC platforms in her various assignments.

Ashley’s interests include the role of information and technology in great power competition as well as the intricacies of tensions in the Middle East. Olds holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Additionally, Ashley holds a commercial instrument rotary wing license and is qualified in the UH60 A/L and the UH-60M.

Cadet Theo (Ted) Wages, U.S. Military Academy - Topic: "Culture and COVID-19: Variation in Infectious Disease Response"

Cadet Theo (Ted) Wages
Cadet Theo (Ted) Wages U.S. Military Academy

Culture and COVID-19: Variation in Infectious Disease Response

In late 2019 and throughout 2020, the world has experienced a threat to public health from a novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the likes of which has not been seen since the 1918 Spanish Influenza. The initial analysis of this illness from the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that this was simply an “atypical pneumonia,” but the WHO quickly retracted this characterization when they declared the coronavirus a pandemic in March of 2020. Following the WHO’s declaration of the COVID-19 global pandemic, national governments issued various responses to quell the virus’s transmission rate ranging from complete societal shut-down to an embrace of herd immunity. In examining these various government responses and their effectiveness of limiting the spread of COVID-19, it is evident that some states executed virtually flawless response efforts while others failed to take appropriate action from the inception. In the Republic of Korea, for example, COVID-19 deaths per million (DPM) people reached a peak of 0.11 DPM in April while the United States peaked at 6.77 DPM in the same month. Diverging COVID-19 response trajectories between South Korea and the United States indicate that democratic states chose to adopt vastly different response strategies when confronted with infectious disease threats. In this paper I seek to examine the various factors that influence democratic government response to infectious disease risks. My research question is: what factors explain the variance in democratic government response to infectious disease threats? I argue that democratic states that maintain collectivist societal composition and effective executive leadership will have the most effective response to infectious disease threats. 


Cadet Ted Wages is in his final year at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Cadet Wages is an International Affairs major with a minor in Grand Strategy. During his first two years at the Academy, Cadet Wages was a member of the Army Black Knights football team. Following his graduation in May, Cadet Wages will commission into the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry branch. Following his training, he will be stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Dr. Marta Nowakowska and Mr. Kornel Kantoch, General Tadeusz Kościuszko Military University of Land Forces (AWL), Wroclaw, Poland - Topic: "The Misinformation Virus: Social Threats Resulting from Media Coverage During a Pandemic"

Dr. Marta Nowakowska
Dr. Marta Nowakowska Military University of Land Forces (AWL), Wroclaw, Poland
Mr. Kornel Kantoch
Mr. Kornel Kantoch General Tadeusz Kosciuszko Military University of Land Forces (AWL)

The Misinformation Virus. Social Threats Resulting from Media Coverage During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and today is a huge challenge for security and humanity. Official statistics show that the number of deaths worldwide has exceeded 2,526,793 (February 28, 2021).

From the beginning of the 20th century, the media - the press, radio, television, and nowadays also the Internet and social media - played an important role in social communication. They are particularly important in a period of social threats and anxiety. They are not only a source of information about current and potential threats, but also shape the "pseudo-environment" which, according to Walter Lippmann, is a subjective, biased and necessarily limited mental image of the world, influencing individual behaviour and decisions.

"The media create a picture of reality that is convenient for ruling elites. Most often, it has nothing to do with the truth. It is used to intimidate and manipulate society" (Chomsky 2002: xi), as Noam Chomsky wrote in his publication criticizing the functioning of the American media in the 1980s and 1990s. The American linguist, philosopher and political activist introduced the concepts of "propaganda of the media" and "the propaganda media", referring them to the media of the broadly understood West, excluding from the scope of these concepts only the world of the Global South and information flowing from there. The researcher wanted to draw attention to new threats that flow from propaganda messages and are not noticed by recipients. Democratic society remains, according to the researcher, defenseless against the media hidden message (Chomsky 2017).

Modern nations believe in the current state of existence, with the illusory impression that in the era of globalization they have access to so much information, that they can themselves create awareness of what is happening in the world.

The media that were recognized in the 21st century as the primary source of information about the world have also become the creator of history and knowledge about past and future events. Publishers or academic experts, university professors are invited to information programs, with the task of forecasting the future based on personal experience. Not only do they give opinions about the causes, but also the consequences and the time of ending a given conflict, and often answer questions about where our Western civilization is heading. Authors of Age of Propaganda emphasize that every form of social communication, especially the media, whose aim is to bring about an appropriate impact on society, use the tools of persuasion, manipulation and propaganda (Pratkanis, Aronson 2003: 31).

Propaganda belongs among the oldest forms of "exerting pressure" on society; however, the modern media have changed the current rules of the game. The universality of information, while not being able to "filter" the imposed content out of the data, causes the recipient to be helpless in the face of the multitude of often contradictory information.

Such helplessness was described by Noam Chomsky, while stressing that educated people are more easily manipulated through various techniques. Seemingly greater knowledge, gained through reading, becomes the cause of "absorption" of more manipulative content. What is more, democratic societies, which have forgotten or have not experienced propaganda in the full meaning of this word, are weaker towards propaganda. A system based on the principle of freedom of speech and the press becomes ideal for spreading hidden content in media messages (Chomsky 2017).

During the past year, the topic “covid” and “pandemic”  has received a lot of attention on social networks – Twitter, Facebook, etc. The impact of the topic, as well as the controversies related to it, have motivated people to voice their attitudes either directly, using evaluative expressions, or indirectly, by bringing forward (factual) arguments that put the topic under a positive or negative light.

The aim of the article is description of the social threats which are the result from the transmission of information in a crisis situation. Also article is an attempt to answer the question whether free choice - the foundation of a democratic system - is not a source of unnecessary dangers during a pandemic.

In the context of the accumulation of such a huge number of media messages in such a short time and in a situation perceived as directly life-threatening, it seems particularly interesting and important to conduct research on communication in a crisis situation such as a pandemic. The existing conditions had a significant impact on the quality and reliability of the published content and, consequently, also on a change in social attitudes and behaviour. Media users, dealing with a large amount of information, often contradictory or incomplete as well as untrue, were not able to verify its authenticity on an ongoing basis, which means that it is the information media, which should operate in accordance with the principles of professionalism, have a special responsibility for providing factual information based on proven and reliable sources. The content published by different media is often incomplete and contradictory. It means that the media are responsible for the information provided, but also for its overtones, which, by influencing public opinion, may arouse panic or calm it down.

The results of our own research are a valuable source of information in the field of information transfer, how to communicate a threat and avoid disinformation in a democratic society.


Dr. Marta Nowakowska is an Assistant Professor at the General Tadeusz Kosciuszko Military University of Land Forces in Wroclaw (Poland). She has a PhD in anthropology of culture and history. Her doctoral dissertation at the University of Wroclaw concerned the relationship between ethnic identity and national policy in South Africa. Her research interests focus on cultural competences and inter-cultural communication, cultural safety, anthropology of culture, military culture, national heritage, African development, humanitarian assistance and media awareness. She has contributed to a number of publications having written four books and ten book chapters as well as numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals on matters relating to cultural safety, media manipulation, human and cultural factors in technical systems and national heritage. For several years Marta Nowakowska worked as a journalist – mostly covering social and gender issues in Poland but also working with non-governmental organisations in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa and in Thailand and Myanmar.

Mr. Kornel Kańtoch is a warrant officer, graduate of the field of National Security, specialization in Crisis Management at General Tadeusz Kosciuszko Military University of Land Forces in Wroclaw (Poland). He serves as a soldier at the Military University of Land Forces where he holds the position of shooting instructor. He is the author of a few articles, inter alia, on the topic about using the simulators in fire training on the example of MULF. Together with Dr. Marta Nowakowska he has conducted research on cultural competences among Polish soldiers on foreign missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. This project culminated in a collaborative article titled "Chosen Aspects of Cultural Awareness Training in the military. Case study of Polish troops' training in the years 2003-2020”. He is conducting research on changes in shooting training on the example of the army and police during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Dr. Edward (Ed) Barrett

Dr. Edward (Ed) Barrett
Dr. Edward (Ed) Barrett Director of Research, United States Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership

Dr. Edward Barrett is the Director of Research at the United States Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership. An Air Force ROTC scholarship graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he completed a Ph.D. in political theory at the University of Chicago, and is the author of Persons and Liberal Democracy: The Ethical and Political Thought of Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II and many journal articles and book chapters on military ethics issues. During graduate school, he worked for two years as speechwriter to the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, Francis Cardinal George, writing on topics within philosophy, theology, political theory, international relations and economics. As an Air Force officer, he served as an active duty and reserve C-130 instructor pilot, was recalled to active duty in 2003-2005 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and retired in 2013 as a Colonel from the Air Force’s Directorate of Strategic Planning at the Pentagon.

Panel 3: Technological and Economic Security Implications for National Security
April 8, 9:00 to 10:15 a.m.


OCdt Thomas Turmel, Royal Military College of Canada - Topic: "Canadian Defense Procurement"

OCdt Thomas Turmel
OCdt Thomas Turmel Royal Military College of Canada

Canadian Defense Procurement

The Covid-19 pandemic severely disrupted the ability of the Canadian government to acquire assets pertinent to its national security. One of the sectors most affected was the Canadian defense procurement process, which oversees the acquisition of capital goods and services for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). In fact, a large number of procurement programs planned through the Strong, Secured, Engaged (SSE) defense policy were delayed, including major crown projects, such as the CF-18 and Surface Combatant program. The intent of this research paper is thus to determine how Covid-19 has affected government procurement, and what are the implications for Canadian defense policy in the future. From the initial outbreak of the pandemic in North America at the end April 2020, the events are analyzed in three separate phases: the short term (0–3 months), the medium term (3–12 months) and the long-term (one year +). It was found that most acquisition programs were delayed by the initial outbreak, except for the few related to Covid-19, but that the delays were resolved within the course of the summer. It was also shown that provincial Power caused friction with Canadian defense procurement and that better coordination between the levels of government will be required to ensure the continuity of Canadian national security in time of crisis. Further, Canada is expected to put in place measures to increase its self-sufficiency, considering the problems caused by global supply chains during the pandemic. The delivery of military assets has resumed, at a slower pace it must be noted, but the greatest implication of Covid-19 on Canadian defense procurement is financial in nature and yet to come. Canada’s increased national debt and governmental spending, coupled with the precarious economic situation experienced, has resulted in uncertainty about the future of Canadian defense procurement. Two options that could be pursued by Ottawa were identified: a reduction in acquisition driven by spending cuts or a continuation of Canada’s current defense policy driven by the operational needs of the Canadian military.


Thomas Turmel is enrolled in the Royal Military College of Canada where he is pursuing an Honors B.A. in Military Strategic studies with a minor in Economics. He is also studying Arabic language and culture at Laval University, in Quebec City. Thomas has been active with the International Society of Military Science (ISMS) where he acted as the rapporteur for the War Studies Working Group at its 2020 Annual Conference hosted (virtually) by the Finnish National Defense University. In addition, he takes part in the Model United Nations Association of Laval University. His research is centred on hostile foreign influence on western social media and on Canadian defense economy. He is fluent in French and in English and has a growing knowledge of Arabic. Upon graduation, he will commission in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Second Lieutenant.

Cadet Paata Chinchaladze, Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy - Topic: "Cyber-attacks on COVID Research Infrastructure"

Cadet Paata Chinchaladze
Cadet Paata Chinchaladze Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy

Cyber-attacks on COVID Research Infrastructure

Cyberattacks against health bodies, vaccine scientists, and drugmakers have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic as state-backed and criminal hacking groups scramble to obtain the latest research and information about the outbreak. The waves of attacks came from Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China.

In the forthcoming research, I will try to carefully examine these cases, show similarities and differences and analyze how they have affected relations between these countries. Among the noteworthy cases was an attack on the US-built Lugar Lab, located in Georgia. The hackers were able to penetrate the system and steal covid-related information from the servers. Similar cases took place in the US and UK labs.

It is believed that the “war on vaccines” had three different phases: 1. developing the vaccine, 2. Testing the vaccine and 3. Distributing the vaccine. The majority of Cyber-attacks took place while countries were at the 1-2 phases. Illegal access to scientific information would grant authoritarian regimes an advantage over others. That also means that a leader like Vladimir Putin, whose public approval is constantly going down, would make an image of a world champion in fighting against the pandemics, thus gather a bit more support from the local population. 

The same is true for the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un: even if he does not care much about his public approval rates, he is still trying to play some role in the international arena. Considering North Korea’s alignment with China, allegedly Pyongyang sponsored cyber-attack carried out against British vaccine developer AstraZeneca makes political sense. 

Hackers linked to Iran have targeted staff at U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied any involvement in the attacks, arguing that the “Iranian government does not engage in cyber warfare.” Among the others, this case will be on our research list. 

As the distribution phase is currently underway, we will carefully monitor the process and simultaneously register all the cases of cyber-attacks against the covid-19 infrastructure. Experts believe that a simple phishing attack can yield major destruction for healthcare distribution organizations.

I hope that my ongoing research will effectively summarize the challenges that modern technologies pose to the world. This challenge as it seems is not only a matter of security but also represents threats to the liberal values cherished by democratic societies. Attacking the medical infrastructure means that for some political leaders there the red lines no longer exist, they can politicize pandemics and use the vaccines for keeping their political power. 


My name is Paata Chinchaladze from Tbilisi, Georgia. I am a third year Junker (cadet), of the Defense and Security Programme at NDA Georgia. I am interested in IR and my goal is to become a successful officer with a wide array of knowledge in the spheres connected to military affairs. As a person I try to be very active, I like to meet new people, my aim is to gain knowledge and experience, that is why I often participate in events, such as conferences, workshops, etc. I like to read books and share my thoughts with colleagues and friends. Goes without saying, that my preferred literary genre is military fiction and non-fiction. I have a good command of English; therefore, I have no problems with expressing my thoughts with my foreign peers. After graduating from the NDA, besides starting on with my military duties, I plan to take MA courses, that would help me to be better equipped for the postmodern challenges that my country faces today. 

Dr. Jon Miner, University of North Georgia Professor of Political Science & International Affairs, and Melissa Mack, Director at Witt O'Briens' - Topic: "The 2020 Pandemic and the Response of Business and Government: An Examination of Witt O'Brien's Covid-19 Dashboard"

Dr. Jon Miner
Dr. Jon Miner University of North Georgia Professor of Political Science & International Affairs
Melissa Mack
Melissa Mack Director at Witt O'Briens'

The 2020 Pandemic and the Response of Business and Government: An Examination of Witt O’Briens’ Covid-19 Dashboard

Melissa Mack, Director at Witt O’Brien’s and colleagues including Dr. Jonathan Miner, launched a dashboard illustrating every country’s response to COVID-19. With this dashboard, official government sources were used to frequently update information about school closures, essential and non-essential business closures, shelter-in-place orders (stay-at-home, curfew, etc.) for each of the world’s countries (and some sub-state units). From mid-March to September 4, 2020 the dashboard was frequently updated to generate a global picture of the pandemic’s impact on global supply chains and the human security of their employees.  The dashboard itself was a color-coded map showing each country’s response to the disaster, from lockdown to reopening. Users could hover over each state and country to view the government restrictions and most recent information at that moment.  The questions under analysis by Ms. Mack and Dr. Miner based upon the data collected in the dashboard project include: 1) do governmental regime-type and levels of national harmony impact the scope, duration, and severity of lockdown? 2) was the impact of the pandemic on international trade and global supply chains lessened by the sharing of information? This analysis concludes, firstly, that governmental regime-type and levels of national harmony did impact the paths of lockdown, illustrating a bimodal distribution in which authoritarianism and strong national unity produced more complete and longer duration than states that are internally divided and/or possessing of weak democratic systems. Second, the analysis concludes that projects such as the Covid-19 dashboard at Witt O’Briens’ enabled worldwide businesses to mitigate the detrimental effects of global supply chain disruptions and protect the health and human security of their employees worldwide.


Melissa Mack is a crisis management and business continuity consultant and a Director at Witt O’Brien’s. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies in a range of industries including technology, energy, manufacturing, retail, financial services. She has been helping companies enhance their crisis preparedness and organizational resilience for over a decade.

Dr. Jonathan Miner is a Professor of Political Science & International Affairs at the University of North Georgia.  He received his PhD in International Studies from the University of South Carolina in 2007, and an MA in Political Science from the University of Iowa in 2001. A former tax attorney from Chicago, IL, he earned his JD from Drake University in 1994 and a BA from Indiana University-Bloomington in 1991.  Dr. Miner specializes in the field of International Relations, with a teaching and scholarship focus on United States foreign policy analysis, Middle Eastern politics, and International Law.

Dr. Tamirat Abegaz, University of North Georgia - Topic: "Social Engineering Attack Vectors Before and During COVID-19"

Dr. Tamirat Abegaz
Dr. Tamirat Abegaz University of North Georgia

Social Engineering Attack Vectors Before and During COVID-19

The spread of misinformation on social media platforms has been an ever-increasing issue over the course of recent years. Prior studies indicate that misinformation campaigns move towards the most current and highest observed events and incidents. The goal of this research is to analyze the vectors responsible for the perpetuation and spread of false information on widely utilized social media platforms. The focus of this research is to analyze misinformation related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. As a prominent worldwide crisis, COVID-19 resulted in a large-scale misinformation spread and has put more focus than ever on the importance of reliable information. By studying the social engineering tactics, techniques, and procedures prior to and during COVID-19, this research aims to better identify and understand vectors used in social engineering attacks during COVID-19 crisis.


Dr. Tamirat Abegaz, Associate Professor of Computer Science, brings a wealth of experience in user experience to the University of North Georgia (UNG). Abegaz received his Ph.D. from Clemson University in 2014.

As a researcher, he has explored and developed non-traditional and emergent methods of user interactions, which include the use of multi-modal interfaces, and emotional design elements. His Ph.D. work revolves around emotional designs to improve web search experience for older adults. He also worked on the tradeoffs between safety, usability, and security. His research interests include but not limited to digital forensics, threat hunting, cybersecurity education, user experience (UX) development, genetic engineering, and biometric systems. He is GIAC Certified Threat Intelligence (GCTI), GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst (GCFA), GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Security+, Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), and a Certified Scum Master (SCM). He has successfully published numerous articles in cybersecurity and related fields. He has several other publication and research projects currently active and in progress. He is an active reviewer of conference papers and journal articles. Prior to joining UNG, Abegaz served in a variety of software development roles for African Union, Commercial, and National Bank of Ethiopia.


Dr. Steven Fleming, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)

Colonel Steven Fleming
Colonel Steven Fleming, U.S. Army (Retired) Professor of the Practice, Spatial Sciences Institute

Colonel (Retired) Steve Fleming serves as a Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences in the University of Southern California’s Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) and Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). COL [R] Fleming served as an Air Defense officer with command and staff experience in short-range air defense operations at the battalion, brigade and division levels. With 30 years of military service, he has operational combat experience with Joint and NATO units and staffs, twice deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He most recently served on active duty as Academy Professor of Geospatial Information Science and Deputy Head of the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. With a teaching background in physical geography, remote sensing, photogrammetry, surveying, geographic information systems, cartography, and military geospatial operations, Dr. Fleming currently teaches the capstone courses in the graduate and undergraduate-level human security and geospatial intelligence academic programs as well as remote sensing, human security, disaster management, and other geographic information science and technology courses. In support of USC’s research and growth initiatives, his technical specialties include: applications of geospatial technologies for national defense (military operations, homeland security, and disaster management); airborne and space-based image collection systems; dynamic mapping systems for coastal regions; next-gen modeling/simulation & gaming applications for national security and safety employment; and multi-modal education/training integration of emerging content-delivery technologies/methodologies.

Individual Presentations by Scholars, Practitioners & Students

11:15 a.m. Cadet Nikoloz Shautidze, Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy - Topic: "Anti-Vaxxers and Russia Behind COVID-19 5G Conspiracy Theories"

Cadet Nikoloz Shautidze
Cadet Nikoloz Shautidze Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy

Anti-Vaxxers and Russia behind Covid-19 5G Conspiracy Theories

Throughout years, Russia has been known for its disinformational and psychological warfare and gained very negative authority for its activities not only domestically, but globally, starting from Europe, crossing Asia, Africa, South America and last but not least, the US itself. The spread of Covid-19 and the pandemic has affected every nation and policy-making system on every level. At the early stages of the pandemic, there was a huge movement promoting a link between conspiracies, 5G tech and the virus itself, which had links to anti-vaxxer movement and gained prominence thanks largely to the worldwide support this movement had at that point. Russian policy-making on the other hand took up the opportunity to have their strings on the ongoing situation. During this time Russian State-Funded tv broadcasters assiduously promoted misinformation with the idea of undermining trust in science and sense of logic, which was basically aimed at democratic and western institutions. Russian tv companies started to produce material, that served to legitimize the conspiracy theories by streaming worldwide. Theories about 5G tech linking with health had been levitating in the web years before the pandemic. Since April 2020, disinformation researchers and enthusiasts were mentioning the trail of co-oped campaign between the stories and political string-mining. Due to the mentioned disinformational campaign, there were dozens of reports on attacking the 5G infrastructure worldwide. However, during the ongoing pandemic, disinfo campaigns are very common in various communities around the globe, which is aimed to destruct or disrupt the public trust to its governments, scientists and basically technological breakthroughs, which can become very big issues in the future as for maintaining health policies and public health security. Moreover, the disinformation campaign related to 5G tech can also facilitate anti-Western feelings and attitudes in societies who lack information and have a big impact toward scientific progress.


I am Nikoloz Shautidze and I represent the National Defense Academy of Georgia. I’m undergoing the faculty of Defense and Security on third year. I was born and raised in capital Tbilisi. Growing up, I was a very ambitious and progress-oriented child, which led me to studying different disciplines, such as law, history, geopolitics, and during high school I had the opportunity to attend different courses in different organizations related to my topics of interest. In my early years, I’ve gained foreign language speaking skills, which include English, Russian and at the given time, I’m undergoing French course. The main goal for me is to get as much experience and knowledge which will help guide to my future goals. As for my accomplishments, at given time I’m writing a thesis on Total Defense concepts world wide and policies to become a Bachelor in my field of studies. Mentioning a few words about my experience, this platform will help me obtain excellent international experience, which is very crucial for me to become a successful leader.

11:40 a.m. Cadet Luka Bogveradze, Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy - Topic: "COVID-19 and Great Power Rivalry"

Cadet Luka Bogveradze
Cadet Luka Bogveradze Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy

Covid-19 and Great Power Rivalry

New virus or as it is called the coronavirus, Covid-19, has had a great influence on major spheres of human activities, more specifically, international relations and security. For the last decade, we are in a constant rivalry between the great power states such as the United States of America and the rising state People’s Republic of China: this pressure has been reflected in the national security documents of both states and in many other ways, in international trade, in joint military training and so on.

Meanwhile, as we have said, the Covid-19 has struck both states, not only them of course, and changed their course of action in different directions; however, they tried to maintain their interaction and defeat the virus, simultaneously. As the former prime minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia has said: ‘’we need to turn this situation, into an opportunity’’, it is without a question, that great powers would have started doing so before a leader of a small state had stated this sentence. Both countries have been affected by the virus in a different way, while the US was dealing with thousands of new cases daily and trying to run the 2020 Election at the same time, on the other part of the world, China was reopening its food markets and people were starting to get back to normal life.

Even though the pandemic is still active, it is important to understand and analyze how these great powers are dealing with the current situation, how they have recovered, so that, we can foresee what will the structure of international politics look like, not to mention the fact that the nature of the whole system is constructed by these states.

By using secondary analysis we will try to answer our questions. We will discuss the economic, military, and political actions of both countries in the first half of the year 2020, while noting other important cases coming from other states, such as Russia, then we will compare the results they got in the second half of the year.

Finally, as a result, we will conclude what opportunities they have gained and what they have lost, which will be the solution to our problem.


My name is Luka Bogveradze, and I am a third-course cadet at the National Military Academy of Georgia. I was born in Kutaisi and I graduated from Georgian-American School Progress. I was a very motivated and hardworking student, and so I got great scores on National Exams.

My whole life, I have been interested in History and Political Sciences; therefore, I study on faculty of Defense and Security. I try to read as many books and articles as possible, related to topics of my interest; however, my knowledge is not enough I require more practical experience. Still, I consider myself worthy of facing the challenges relating to International Politics and Security.

Currently, I am writing a science paper discussing the evolution in the nature of Terrorism, in order to achieve Bachelor’s degree. I am considered a successful student and my actions will be driven towards maintaining this state.

12:15 p.m. Cadet Dachi Pichkhnarashvili, Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy - Topic: "COVID-19 and Russian Informational Warfare"

Cadet Dachi Pichkhnarashvili
Cadet Dachi Pichkhnarashvili Republic of Georgia National Defense Academy

Covid-19 and Russian Informational Warfare 

The Covid-19 has introduced uncertainty in the world. This box of Pandora was opened to bring devastating problems to human security and well-being. Companies went bankrupt, people became unemployed, economies shrank, almost three million people have died due to the virus.

Even in these hard times, the outlaw states like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and others try to use the crisis for their political purposes. In this research, I will take one particular case of Russian information warfare that unites conspiracy theories, religious superstitions, and the plays on the worst fears of the target audience. 

Russia’s pandemic-related disinformation campaign has included undermining trust in objective facts and credible information sources concerning COVID-19; portraying democratic institutions as poor managers of the pandemic; increasing the anxiety, anger, and mistrust of Western publics regarding their governments and other members of their societies; exacerbating tensions between Western countries, such as between EU members or between Europeans and Americans.

Kremlin’s propaganda has two main targets: Russian citizens and everyone else. Locally Vladimir Putin’s regime tries to make people believe that their economic problems and other everyday challenges are caused by NATO and its allies. According to the common narrative, Russia has a moral duty to defend the Orthodox World from western liberal imperialism and as long as the state is in a hybrid war, economic problems are normal and acceptable. Abroad, Russia tries to sharpen the problems that the West has and portray Russia as a feasible alternative to the democratic world. To strengthen this myth, Russia's propaganda machine, with its “troll factories,” fake news media agencies, and corrupted diplomacy, creates and spreads a wide variety of conspiracy theories. In the context of Covid-19, these theories had complex appeal, starting from the 5G conspiracies, to Anti-vax hysteria. In this research, I will try to dig deep into these cases. In my opinion, it will be very interesting to present the bits and pieces that connect Kremlins imperialist policies to propaganda campaigns.


My name is Dachi Pichkhnarashvili from Tbilisi, Georgia. I am a cadet (Junker) on my third year of study at David Aghmashenebeli National Defense Academy of Georgia. I am a student of the security and defense BA Programme. I am interested in international politics, strategic studies, and regional studies. It was my childhood dream to join the army. From military school and training to join the Georgian defense forces next year, I am going to make my dream come true. Nowadays a good officer has to see the world beyond military affairs, thus my goal is to be a practicing professional with a broad knowledge of the processes that take place in the domain of IR and global security. As a hardworking person, I always search for new challenges and opportunities.

I acknowledge that 20% of my country is occupied by Russia; therefore, the Georgian officer corps has a special, heavy load to carry on their shoulders. That is why I am especially interested in Russian politics; my BA thesis is titled: “understanding Russian grand strategy after the cold war era." I am an easy-going person, very sociable. My English is good enough to have friends among my foreign peers. I like reading history books because I believe that learning the past will help us to orientate in the uncertain future. 

1:30 p.m. Col Tre Irick, U.S. Air War College - Topic: “Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Air Force Readiness and Training”

Colonel Edward J. Irick III
Colonel Edward J. Irick III Student, Joint Warrior Studies Seminar, Air War College

Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. Air Force Readiness and Training

The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant response has highlighted a degree of fragility in Air Force training and readiness operations. The global impact has pushed the service off-balance and current efforts are focused on recovering the service to a more resilient future. Over-centralization and a drive for efficiency have created an enterprise that is powerful but incapable of anticipatory response and vulnerable to strategically impactful mission stoppage. A larger crisis, initiated by a near-peer adversary, could significantly degrade force readiness and place national security at serious risk. While intuitively accepted, the institution has failed to move toward amelioration of potential disaster. The Air Force must commit to inculcating agility across the organization and to prioritizing training to maintain warfighting readiness despite a challenging threat environment.


Colonel Edward J. Irick III is currently a student in Joint Warrior Studies Seminar, Air War College, Maxwell AFB, AL.

Col Irick entered the Air Force in 1999, receiving his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy.  After his initial assignment as contracting specialist, he transitioned to the combat rescue officer career field and earned his maroon beret from the Combat Rescue Officer School at Kirtland AFB, NM. He has been instrumental in the stand-up of the Guardian Angel weapon system and the development of the Combat Rescue Officer career field serving in a variety of leadership and staff positions at the squadron, major command, Headquarters Air Force, and Joint Staff level. He has commanded at the squadron-level in both garrison and expeditionary capacity. Prior to his current assignment, he was the Deputy Chair, Department of International Security, Air Command Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL.

2:00 p.m. Lieutenant Colonel Liz Beal, U.S. Air War College - Topic: “Air Force Impacts of COVID-19: Profiling and Retention Considerations”

Lieutenant Colonel Liz Beal
Lieutenant Colonel Liz Beal U.S. Air War College

Air Force Impacts of COVID-19: Profiling and Retention Considerations

COVID-19 is a global pandemic with the potential for prolonged adverse health outcomes. Recent data indicates that the USAF COVID-19 infection rate was 5.9%, with a 0.0045%-6.77% moderate-to-critical illness rate.  Despite the young and healthy population, the USAF should expect impacts to fitness, in-garrison duties, deployments, and retention. Consideration of the possible long-term impacts is vital for planning purposes, especially as infections continue to increase. This review estimates the percentages of prolonged sequelae, profiles, and medical retention considerations from the available literature and the DoD COVID-19 Case Registry data for the Air Force. Of those infected, the USAF should expect fitness restrictions for ten days in 6.8-40%, at least 13 days in 53.2-93.2%, at least 17 days in 0.0046-7.1%, at least 29 days in 0.0043-2.7%, and at least 3.5 months in 0.00032-5.1%. After isolation or convalescent leave, up to 11.3-34.2% may anticipate a variable duration and degree of duty and mobility restrictions with medical retention consideration in 0.0004-14.4% of those infected. Overall, more than 10% of infected USAF members may have prolonged sequelae leading to an increased rate of duty- or mobility-restricting profiles and medical retention evaluations.


Lt Col Beal was awarded the Health Professions Scholarship in 2000. She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree in 2004 from the Medical College of Ohio. For her Obstetrics and Gynecology post-graduate training, she completed an internship in 2005 at Keesler Medical Center and a residency program in 2008 at Michigan State University. In December 2009, Lt Col Beal earned her OB/GYN Board Certification and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

2:30 p.m. Colonel Jolanda Walker, Army War College Fellow, University of Georgia/Athens - Topic: "A National Laboratory Testing Strategy: Augmenting Pandemic Response Doctrine"

Colonel Jolanda Walker
Colonel Jolanda Walker Army War College Fellow, University of Georgia/Athens

A National Laboratory Testing Strategy: Augmenting Pandemic Response Doctrine

US response to the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the nation on multiple fronts: politically, economically, socially, and medically.  Retrospective analysis reveals a response plagued with disjointed and uncoordinated efforts by local, state and federal agencies, ladened with communication challenges between the public, partners coordinating the response and other stakeholders. Although there is disagreement on what led to the disconnect between the levels of government, what cannot be disputed are the negative impacts that the poor coordination continues to have on the nation. Intervention by DOD medical assets was an integral piece of the early successes realized in surges experienced by various states; however, the continued coordination failures made those successes short-lived. In order for the US to execute a successful pandemic response, it must ensure that a comprehensive laboratory testing strategy is implemented appropriately to support the local and national public health objectives of reducing disease spread and maintaining the continuity of healthcare provision. With that in mind, analysis of Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization and DOD pandemic response plans as well as other pandemic policy documents will be used to develop an appropriate testing strategy that compliments each phase of the response.


Colonel Jolanda L. J. Walker is a native of Montgomery, AL. She is a graduate of Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology with a minor in Military Science and was a Distinguished Military Graduate. She commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army as a Medical Service Corps Officer through the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1998. Colonel Walker also holds a Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science from Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey and is nationally certified through the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

Colonel Walker has served at a myriad of duty stations in various leadership and command positions ranging from Evacuation Platoon Leader at Camp Humphreys, Korea to Executive Officer to the Chief of the Army Medical Corps at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. She most recently served as the Commander, Troop Command, Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center; Fort Gordon, Georgia and Deputy Regional Laboratory Manager assisting with COVID-19 Laboratory Response for Regional Health Command – Atlantic. Colonel Walker is currently studying Global Food Security, Agrosecurity, Infectious Disease and Population Health as an Army War College Fellow at the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

Colonel Walker has attended all levels of military education and holds numerous awards and decorations.

Colonel Walker is married to Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Ronald Walker of Harker Heights, Texas.

3:00 p.m. Dr. Michael Lanford, University of North Georgia Assistant Professor of Higher Education; and doctoral students Yizhe Huang, University of North Georgia Lecturer and Chinese Flagship Tutoring Coordinator, and Ashlee Pollard, University of West Georgia Assistant Director of Enrollment Services - Topic: “Restoring State Investment to US Higher Education: Implications for National Security and Global Competitiveness”

Yizhe Huang
Yizhe Huang Lecturer and Chinese Flagship Tutoring Coordinator, University of North Georgia
Ashlee Pollard
Ashlee Pollard Assistant Director of Enrollment Services, University of West Georgia
Dr. Michael Lanford
Dr. Michael Lanford Assistant Professor of Higher Education, University of North Georgia

Restoring State Investment to US Higher Education: Implications for National Security and Global Competitiveness

At the beginning of the twentieth century, US colleges and universities were modest in both size and impact, with a mere 2% of young adults enrolling in higher education. The world’s great institutions were widely perceived to be European, with Humboldt University in Berlin, as well as the United Kingdom’s Oxford and Cambridge universities, leading in scientific inquiry and leadership development. By comparison, US institutions were constrained by limited resources, minimal research activity, and questionable teaching practices (Geiger, 2016; Golden & Katz, 1999; Labaree, 2017).

Over the next hundred years, however, US higher education benefitted from considerable state investments and impactful policies, such as the GI Bill, that helped working-class students attain a postsecondary degree. As a result, higher education enrollment expanded from around 2.5 million students in 1950 to almost 15 million students in 1990 (Gumport et al., 1999). Moreover, many of the world’s most prized professors and students emigrated to well-resourced US institutions, contributing immeasurable scientific and humanistic benefits while serving as informal cultural and geopolitical ambassadors between the US and their home countries. Technology hubs, such as Silicon Valley, blossomed near leading US research universities, strengthening national security through the development of technological innovations, robotics, and computer processing capacity. Today, the US is widely acknowledged as having the world’s leading system of higher education, with near-universal access and no fewer than 35 of the world’s top 50 research universities. Central to these achievements has been the notion of higher education as worthy of state investment due to its manifest benefits to individual development, the national economy, democratic participation, and societal progress (Marginson, 2011).

Unfortunately, precipitous state cuts to higher education funding, estimated at $7 billion per year since the 2008 Great Recession, have weakened the global competitiveness of US colleges and universities (Mitchell et al., 2018). Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated financial difficulties. Fearing a decline in tax revenues, states cut $74 billion from higher education budgets in 2020 and have largely failed to restore funding in 2021 (Friga, 2021).

This paper argues that the continued defunding of higher education should be viewed as a threat to national security, as the four national advantages previously outlined in this abstract are currently in peril. First, access to affordable higher education will be severely diminished, resulting in a national workforce less prepared in the twenty-first century skills vital for success in future labor markets. Second, the US will fail to attract international faculty and students, which will result in ruptured geopolitical connections in a globalized world. Third, institutions are cutting vital programs in the humanities and social sciences which promote cultural understanding and language development. Fourth, the conditions necessary for innovative research will suffer, forfeiting the US’s current advantages in technology, robotics, and other STEM areas essential for national security. This paper concludes with a call for deeper engagement with politicians and policymakers who view higher education as a private commodity, rather than as a dynamic, multifaceted sector that supports the nation’s political, social, technological, and economic goals.


Yizhe Huang is a Lecturer and Chinese Flagship Tutoring Coordinator for a national language initiative funded by the Department of Defense at the University of North Georgia (UNG). Ms. Huang’s research interests include foreign language pedagogy, intercultural communication, and international education. As a doctoral student in the Higher Education Leadership and Practice program at UNG, Ms. Huang’s dissertation research focuses on the development of college students’ intercultural awareness through a Collaborative Online International Learning Project. Since 2013, Ms. Huang has worked at two Chinese Flagship institutes, helping cadets and civilian students improve their Chinese language proficiency and intercultural knowledge.

Ashlee Pollard is the Assistant Director of Enrollment Services at the University of West Georgia. She manages customer service and operational logistics within the university’s new Momentum Center. As a doctoral student in the Higher Education Leadership and Practice program at UNG, her dissertation research examines the impact of innovation on Financial Aid Administrators through diffusion theory and Institutional Culture Theory. Other research interests include higher education access, financial literacy, leadership, and boundary spanning. 

Michael Lanford is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of North Georgia. His research explores the social dimensions of education, with specific attention to globalization, institutional innovation, organizational culture, and equity. In recent years, Dr. Lanford has written over 25 journal articles and book chapters for scholarly publications such as the American Educational Research Journal, Higher Education, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, and the Journal of Research on Technology in Education. Additionally, he is preparing a forthcoming book on innovation in higher education. He has received funding to present his research in Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Writing Contest

2021 UNG Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Story Contest

We are no longer accepting 2021 writing contest submissions.

“Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice and outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise. 

Nonetheless, he knew that the tale he had to tell could not be of a final victory. It could be only the record of what had had to be done, and what assuredly would have to be done again in the never ending fight against terror and its relentless onslaughts, despite their personal afflictions, by all who, while unable to be saints but refusing to bow down to pestilences, strive their utmost to be healers.” -From the ending of The Plague by Albert Camus.

The University of North Georgia’s Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies, in conjunction with ILSS’s annual Symposium, is holding a Fiction and Creative Nonfiction story contest. The contest theme ties with this year’s Symposium theme: “Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on National Security.”


  • Dr. Renée Bricker, Professor of History, University of North Georgia
  • Dr. Bibek Chand, Assistant Professor of Political Science & International Affairs, University of North Georgia
  • Dr. Donna A. Gessell, Professor of English, University of North Georgia

We are no longer accepting writing contest submissions.

Thematic Guidelines:

Continuing in the tradition of fiction and creative nonfiction pandemic stories, authors should take into account how humans, both individual and in groups, react to the disease and its aftermath. To tie in with the Symposium theme, “Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on National Security,” the story should in some way consider and/or reflect the new strategic challenges—as well as opportunities—that the COVID-19 global pandemic poses within the political, military, economic, social, infrastructure information (PMESII), and/or intelligence domains of nation-states. As with other epidemic-related literature, the story should not focus primarily on the disease itself, but instead on the possible changes the COVID-19 Pandemic will bring to social norms, including human interactions of all types, leadership roles, and concepts of community, and how those changes will challenge nation-states. Although the COVID-19 global pandemic is biological, authors may choose to treat associated challenges that are metaphorical, as in Camus’ treatment of fascism in The Plague.


  • Grand Prize winner receives $500 honorarium and travel and lodging for the symposium
  • Two runners-up $200 cash prize
  • All three receive publication in UNG Press ILSS Symposium Monograph and one print copy

Contest Guidelines are as follows:

  • Are open to all writers (inside and outside the US)
  • Must be fiction or creative nonfiction only
  • Must be original and unpublished. Authors retain sole rights to any works submitted
  • Must be 4,000 words or less
  • Must use acceptable file types: doc, dox, rtf, pdf
  • Must use 8.5x11 page size, double-spaced throughout with 1-inch margins on top and bottom/1.25-inch margins on left and right sides
  • Must use Arial, Courier, or Times font, 12 point font size
  • Must be in the English language
  • Winners and Runners-up will allow the UNG Press first publication rights, after which rights will revert back to the authors
  • That promote hatred of any given race, religion, sex, or ethnicity will be disqualified

How to enter:

Submit one manuscript per author to Subject line must read ILSS Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Contest Submission

Note: UNG Press/ILSS cannot be held responsible for any failure of the delivery of entries due to any electronic or Internet outage issues. By entering this contest, you agree that you have read, understand, and agree that contest judging is subjective and that you agree to accept and abide by the decision making of the judges in the scoring and judging of the fiction you enter. By submitting your fiction, you agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless UNG/ILSS selected officers, judges, instructors, and staff associated with this contest.

Student Involvement

We are no longer accepting student submissions.

There are three possibilities for U.S. and international undergraduate student involvement:

  1. Students are invited to attend the entire symposium, or parts of the symposium of interest to them, at no cost. Please follow the symposium registration instructions in the “Registration info” tab. 
  2. Students may submit abstracts for papers on which they are conducting research. Undergraduate research abstracts will be evaluated competitively along with other submissions for opportunities to present their work during one of the symposium panel presentations.
  3. Students may submit abstracts for PechaKucha presentations of their ideas concerning the implications of the pandemic’s impact on national security. Papers are encouraged, but not required. PechaKucha presentation abstracts are due by 15 March 2021 to symposium organizer Keith Antonia at Six students will be selected to present on the afternoon of 8 April. The PechaKucha timed presentation format is as follows:
    • Use Powerpoint
    • Use 20 slides, including the title slide (no more, no less)
    • Title slide should contain your name, academic major, the name of your institution, and title of your presentation
    • Set each slide to automatically advance at 20 seconds
    • Total presentation is 6 minutes and 40 seconds
    • Images are preferred over text; text should be very limited
    • Avoid bulleted lists
    • No animations or video
  4. Students may submit articles pertaining to their panel presentation or PechaKucha presentation abstracts after the symposium for possible inclusion in a peer-reviewed symposium monograph to be published by the University of North Georgia Press. The deadline for article submissions will be July 7, 2021.

Examples of PechaKucha presentations

Reading List

National Security Implications of covid-19: A Framework
Geipel, G.L. (2020). National Security Implications of COVID-19: A Framework. Real Clear Defense

Registration Info


The symposium will be physically located in the Convocation Center of the Dahlonega Campus of the University of North Georgia in room 218 and 219. Participants may attend sessions either in person or virtually in Zoom. There will be space for up to 50 people with anticipated COVID-19 social distancing and masking protocols.

We ask all attendees to register ahead of time. We are limiting in person attendance to 30, first-come, first-served. An additional 20 seats will be reserved to accommodate the symposium organizers, technical staff, speakers, panelists, and moderators. 

Attendees may register for a single session or multiple sessions. Those registering for in-person tickets for entire days do not need to register for each individual event.

In-person Parking

Parking is in front of the Convocation Center in Lot 62 (L52) in spaces marked by orange traffic cones; in the red parking area between L52 and the front of the Convocation Center; or across Morrison Moore Parkway in Lot 62 (L62).


Symposium panelists and speakers should contact Melissa Grizzle at 706 867-3230 or e-mail to arrange for lodging.

All other attendees should reserve lodging on their own. Lodging suggestions may be found on the Dahlonega Chamber of Commerce web site.


Dress is business or business casual.

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