A Mission for the National Intelligence University: Transformational Learning for Intelligence Professionals
By Julie Mendosa, EdD
The National Intelligence University (NIU) is a unique Intelligence Community institution that offers masters’ and bachelors’ degrees in intelligence. Students directly apply their educations to their work in protecting the United States and our nation’s interests abroad. Given the nature of their work, intelligence professionals, including NIU students, should be able to think autonomously and adaptively. As they do, they must adhere to rigorous methodical requirements. Intelligence professionals need both concrete and abstract thinking abilities.
At the same time, the IC has an ongoing need to expand the perspectives of intelligence professionals to keep up with changing, interconnected global security conditions while meeting the demands of laws, rules, and procedures. Abstract, adaptive thinking is, however, a different way of understanding than concrete, rule-based thinking. NIU offers educational opportunities intended to expand the ability of intelligence professionals in both of these abstract and concrete forms.
This article presents the findings and implications of a small qualitative study meant to assist educators and others charged with developing the IC workforce. I wanted to explore how NIU students make meaning when they arrive at NIU and to understand how that evolves during their time as full-time students. I expected students to show strength in mastering information and requirements from external sources of authority (i.e., the standardized approaches to intelligence work), which is a goal of NIU programs.