Academia and National Intelligence Meet During Schar School Symposium

A woman in a dark dress in front of flags smiles at the camera.
Department of Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Shannon Corless delivered the opening keynote address.

More than 150 attendees from around the country listened to and joined in lively discussions throughout the day during March 24’s third annual Intelligence Studies Consortium (ISC) symposium hosted by the Schar School of Policy and Government’s Center for Security Policy Studies at George Mason University’s Mason Square in Arlington, Virginia.

The consortium was organized by the National Intelligence University (NIU) and schools from the Washington, D.C., region and the broader mid-Atlantic area that teach intelligence studies and participate in its activities; the spring symposium of student presentations is the main event.

This year, the faculty who plan the annual symposium used the 2021 National Security Strategy to define the topics of greatest intelligence salience. The panels were organized around discussion topics including Russia and China, violent non-state actors, emerging technologies, and transnational challenges.

The symposium kicked off with a keynote address by the Department of Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Shannon Corless, who discussed her career highlights and the role of the Treasury's Office of Intelligence and Analysis within the intelligence community. She also explained how it is adapting to the ever-changing cyber landscape and expanding its coverage of illicit cyber actors.

Larry Pfeiffer, director of the Schar School’s Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Securityengaged former National Security Agency and CIA director—and the center’s namesake—Michael Hayden in a lunchtime conversation, during which Hayden described how the U.S.’s security challenges have shifted over the years. He emphasized the importance of applying lessons learned to current strategic threats, such as great-power competition with China.

Students from Intelligence Studies Consortium universities specializing in intelligence—at graduate and undergraduate levels—submitted abstract proposals regarding national security and intelligence, which were judged for their new insights by ISC faculty representatives. Schools included Mason, Georgetown University, James Madison University, Johns Hopkins University, the Institute of World Politics, Marymount University, Texas A&M University, and NIU.  Schar School students were very well represented: Aurora Ortega, Madeline Puppos, Peter Brown, and Anduela Johnson made presentations, each on one of the four panels.

Additional reporting by Buzz McClain, Schar School of Policy and Government.