National Security Innovation is a University 3-credit hour course in collaboration with the Department of Defense that teaches students to work with the Defense and Intelligence Communities to rapidly address the nation's emerging threats and security challenges.

Student Teams

Student Teams

The class is divided into teams, with each team responsible for addressing a problem put forth by a Department of Defense or Intelligence Community collaborator. Each team has a leader, and students work together to conduct interviews, produce and test solutions, and prepare a final presentation to be submitted to the class and challenge collaborator at the end of the term.

Meet our student teams for the Summer 2022 program:

Department of Defense

Dod Logo Stacked

Military and government civilian leaders understand and appreciate the global missions of the Department of Defense and the most pressing challenges that threaten our national security. From inside the Pentagon, the challenge collaborators meet with student teams virtually for one-hour each week to frame the challenge and share resources that inform the team's activities. The teaching team facilitates these meetings to ensure they are productive conversations.

These collaborators also host the student teams inside the Pentagon for a full day of meetings with principal staff during their week-long trip outside the classroom in Washington D.C.

Teaching Team

Class Photo

This course is taught and facilitated by a team that offers students a rich interdisciplinary learning experience. Meet the team

  • LtCol Regan Jones, Director of Military & Veterans Affairs
  • Dr. John Soares, Department of History 
  • Dr. Amanda Leary, Notre Dame Learning
  • Professor Patrick Gibbons, Mendoza College of Business 


Course Details

This course will utilize methodologies and materials from the National Security Innovation Network's "Hacking for Defense Program" to help students identify, work through and provide possible solutions for contemporary, real-life issues in national security. Examples of previous projects include working with the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center to standardize policy related to integrating advanced technology to ensure a more resilient and capable military force. In the process, students will learn about institutional stakeholders involved in military, diplomatic, intelligence, and other national security-related fields. They will develop a greater understanding of the policies they pursue and some of the challenges they confront in developing and implementing these policies. Students will also advance their networking skills as they connect with representatives of these organizations, including during a week-long trip to Washington, D.C., to facilitate direct student contact with some of these institutional actors and enhance students' understanding of the policymaking environment in the federal government. The innovative coursework will involve a blend of traditional readings, asynchronous resources, and student work-product will include weekly reaction papers to the assignments and project briefs, a final presentation to the project sponsor, and a student-produced video documenting their progress and attainment of learning goals. To enroll, complete a simple application below.

Course Number: POLS 30371 Instructor: John Soares Credit Hours: 3 (general elective) Meeting Information: TTH 5:30 to 7:00 pm (5/30 to 7/22) Maximum Enrollment: 12 Campus: Main Grade Mode: Standard Letter Eligibility: rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors of all majors in all Colleges. 

Experience Washington D.C.:

This week-long learning experience will allow students to meet with government officials and policymakers who will offer insights and outlook on national and global affairs. In addition, the program includes conversations with Fortune 500 executives, financiers, international business leaders, distinguished medical professionals, and prominent Americans with diverse backgrounds. This trip will take place from June 20 to 24, 2022. Travel and accommodations will be arranged through the course. This is a mandatory component of the course. All costs will be covered.


Submit a Google Slide Deck (5 slides maximum) and lighting talk video (3-minutes or less) to answer the question, "What is national security?" and convince those watching that you should be selected to win a cash award and enroll in this course. Deadline: Friday, April 22, 2022, at 5 pm EST


  • This summer 2022 course is open to all rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors of all majors in all Colleges. 
  • GPA above 3.0
  • Interest in innovation, policy, national security, technology, and/or entrepreneurship
  • Ability to take the National Security Innovation course offered during the 2022 Summer Session 
  • Ability to participate in a week-long trek to Washington D.C. from June 20 to 24
  • No prior experience is needed in national security policy or design thinking. 

Important Dates: 

  • Applications opens: April 8, 2022
  • Register for an information session (optional): April 15, 2022
  • Applications due: April 22, 2022
  • Decision released April 27, 2022 
  • Selected students information session (mandatory): April 28, 2022
  • Student commitment/decision deadline: April 29, 2022 
  • Course dates: May 30 to July 22, 2022
  • Travel to D.C.: June 20 to 24, 2022

If you have additional questions contact us at