Black Colleges at the Forefront of Cybersecurity Issues

03/12/2015 04:34 pm ET | Updated May 12, 2015

One positive fact is that we are living in an age where technological advances are unprecedented. On the flip side, another grim reality is the fact that, with such an unprecedented level of technology, the level of privacy afforded to each of us who engage in internet activity has rapidly diminished or, at the very least, has been significantly compromised.

This is particularly the case in regards to cyber security issues. Many individuals from well-regarded scientists, prominent academics, CEOs, environmental consultants to President Obama have weighed in on the issue's importance. Higher education has not ignored this reality.

Another prime example that dispels the ongoing notion of HBCU critics who argue that historically Black colleges and universities are institutions that are out-of-touch entities still mired in a mid-20th-century vision with no concept of the realities facing our 21st century world is the cyber security symposium that will be hosted by the Center for Defense and Homeland Security at Fayetteville State University today through Friday. Such an event is the classic sort of visionary and cutting-edge activity that is happening at a number of our HBCUs.

This symposium hosted by Dr. Curtis B. Charles, Senior Associate Chancellor for Institutional Transformation and Executive Director for Defense and Homeland Security at Fayetteville State University, will bring together a number of civilian and military cybersecurity experts who will interact with attendees from all segments of society -- the military, private industry, think tanks, corporate America, laboratories, politics, media, academia and others.

The symposium will consist of several panels:

· Military and Legislative Panel

· Cybersecurity Employment Panel

· Cybersecurity Federal Contracting and Entrepreneurship Panel

· Cybersecurity Research Panel

· Cybersecurity Technical Training Panel

The speakers who will address these most crucial issues facing American in this preeminent cyber age are among a who's who of the communication, technology and business world. While this is the first cyber security symposium of this caliber hosted by an HBCU, the fact is that very few predominantly White institutions have hosted an event that has managed to assemble such a diverse and comprehensive panel of expertise at one setting.

This is to be commended. The fact is that we are a world that is facing challenges that many of our grandparents and, in some cases, parents could scarcely imagine. Kudos to Fayetteville State for taking the initiative in tackling such a crucial issue that is rapidly impacting all our lives on an ever increasing scale.

Elwood Watson, Ph.D. is s professor of History, African American Studies and Gender Studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the co-author of Beginning A Career in Academia: A Guide For Graduate Students of Color (Routledge Press,2014)