Societal security: New innovative online course and community launched by the recently concluded NEEDS project

Addressing the gaps between education, policy and practice in the field of societal security in the Baltic Sea Region, the NEEDS project consortium has concluded its three-year initiative with the unveiling of a ground-breaking online course and community focused on societal security education.

The NEEDS project consortium has successfully wrapped up its three-year collaboration and project work on 31 August 2023, ending with the launch of an innovative online course on societal security and an online community dedicated to institutionalizing societal security education.

The Needs-based Education and Studies in Societal Security (NEEDS) project spanned over three years, during which research, co-creation, and collaboration led to significant outputs including reports, case studies, a glossary, a joint-pedagogical approach, a handbook, policy recommendations, and most notably, an online course and online community. 

The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) served as the lead partner in the project and is currently collaborating with all partners to share the course and community within the field. 

Addressing the gap

Stakeholder consultations in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) highlighted a critical gap that needed addressing: the necessity for closer cooperation between experts, practitioners, policy makers, higher education institutions, and academia in the field of societal security. This cooperation is crucial for establishing missing connections between policy, practice, education, and research. 

The aim of the NEEDS project was to bolster the quality, scope, and attractiveness of education in societal security by tackling the mismatches between education focus and the knowledge needs of the field. The ultimate goal was to better prepare the next generation working in societal security by enhancing their educational experiences with the most relevant, field-specific, and up-to-date knowledge and skills. 

Key results

The results of the NEEDS project are centered around two main areas:

1. A network and an interface for co-creation and collaboration through strategic partnerships between experts, practitioners, policy makers, teachers, and students at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) working with societal security issues.

2. An online module, the respective study material, and a multi-method pedagogical approach.

“The NEEDS online course offers an overview of societal security from multinational perspectives, providing an opportunity to find the latest information on societal security, in addition to network at the international level,” said Hanna Iisakkila Rojas from the Laurea University in Finland, a NEEDS project partner.

“If you, a practitioner in the field of societal security, are stuck and don’t know an answer to a specific questions regarding your daily work, the online community is her to help and may have the solution you are looking for,” said Kaspars Vārpiņš  from the Liepaja Municipal Police and UBC Safe Cities Commission, another NEEDS project partner.

These results are now accessible to stakeholders who can take the online course and further their knowledge in societal security issues from the BSR. The course, hosted by the Swedish Defence University on the e-learning platform Canvas, is free of charge, self-paced, and only requires signing up. The course and community are linked, but can be joined individually as well.

Education and professional needs: addressing the mismatch

Pre-project consultations indicated a need to address the mismatch between education and the skills needed in the field in the BSR. The NEEDS online course module innovatively addresses and evolves around this exact challenge. The NEEDS project and its course and community align with the CBSS’s work towards a safe and secure region, as well as higher education and transnational cooperation.

With the successful conclusion of the NEEDS project, a significant step has been taken towards improving transnational cooperation and addressing the gap between education and the skills required in the field of societal security in the Baltic Sea Region. Interested parties are encouraged to take advantage of the innovative online course and join the online community to further their knowledge and contribute to a safer and more secure society.

About the NEEDS project:

The “Needs-based education and studies in societal security” (NEEDS) project addresses the skills gap and mismatch between the societal security education and the concrete knowledge needs in the field. It also seeks to promote transnational cooperation and dialogue between higher education institutes, practitioners and experts dealing with societal security. By bridging the current knowledge gaps from the onset during their studies and education, the next generation of societal security professionals will be ready to work and have the necessary skills for meeting field-specific demands. Societal security is a key topic at the CBSS, which notably seeks to strengthen Baltic Sea Region-wide cooperation on civil protection, response to crises and, in general, building more resilient societies. 

More information about the project and the online course: 

Links and resources

Online course: 

Online communities: