A Social Science Approach to Cybersecurity Education for all Disciplines

Higher education institutions have started heavily investing in cybersecurity education programs for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. These programs offer standard courses, such as network security, forensics, penetration testing, intrusion detection and recovery. To offer a holistic experience, these programs also include courses on business systems lifecycle, data analytics, auditing, investigation, and cyberlaw.

Little, however, is being done to understand the human side of cyberattacks/cybersecurity. The social sciences has much to offer in this arena. However, the discipline’s potential contribution to training the next workforce generation (STEM or otherwise) remains underdeveloped.

This talk shares an educator’s attempt to address this gap via involving undergraduate students across multiple disciplines in experiential learning (EL) class projects in ‘cyber-field’ research. The talk highlights several benefits, such as fostering multidisciplinary dialog, developing qualitative research skills, understanding adversarial mindsets, and predicting defender behavior. This talk uses students’ and the educator’s reflections as a narrative to discuss ongoing efforts, struggles, challenges, and lessons learned. Audience feedback is welcomed (and much needed!) as this educator is still experimenting with the EL pedagogical approach.

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