The Needs-based education and studies in societal security (NEEDS) project is addressing the skills gap and mismatch between the societal security education and the knowledge needs in the field.


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.  

Achieved goals

  • Establishing the strategic partnership, network and cooperation structure, and building trust between the sectors and countries through co-production in the project.
  • Developing an innovative pedagogical approach where students, teachers, practitioners, and experts work together in transnational teams.
  • Developing material for societal security education through cross-sectoral and transnational co-creation.
  • Internationalising societal security education in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR), thus making the education more relevant and attractive.
  • The establishment of a network and an interface for co-creation and collaboration, through the cooperation in the strategic partnership between experts, practitioners, policy makers, teachers and students at HEIs who are working with societal security issues.
  • The development of an online course, the respective study material as well as a multi-method pedagogical approach.


The outcomes of the NEEDS project are different outputs in eight categories (Erasmus+ lingua: Intellectual Outputs, IO). All outputs were created in the course of the project in collaboration of higher education and practicing professionals. Often, students, experts and other externals were included. The following eight IOs are the outcome of the NEEDS project with the Online Course and the Online Community for Societal Security being key results for achieving the overall goal.

Glossary of Terms in Societal Security Education (IO1)

In preparation for the NEEDS project, a seminar was organised to discuss the concept of ‘societal security’ with different stakeholders. The seminar showed that there are various understandings of the concept (as well as terms) and that it needs to be contextualised to be concrete. This IO is a response to said need. In form of a glossary, it draws on existing glossaries and terminologies, adapting and complementing such work to the needs of HEIs in the field of societal security, with a particular focus on the BSR context. The multilingual glossary is to support the creation of common understanding of key concepts and terms.

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Guidelines and Recommendations for Societal Security Education in the BSR (IO2)

This is a systematic review IO on the state-of-the-art of Societal Security higher education in the BSR, added with a gap analysis and recommendations.

Societal Security as Higher Education: State of the Art in the Baltic Sea Region

This report provides an overview of the student-practice interfaces provided by the Baltic Sea Region’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) within the field of Societal Security.

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Enhancing Societal Security Graduate Employability in the Baltic Sea Region

This report provides an overview of the student-practice interfaces provided by the Baltic Sea Region’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) within the field of Societal Security.

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Key Observations and Recommendations in the NEEDS Project

The report summarises the results of two 2021 desktop studies, based on comprehensive literature reviews, online surveys targeted at higher education study programme leaders and students, and NEEDS project group discussions about the state of the art of societal security higher education in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The report at hand is structured around five interlinked themes or perspectives, summarising the key observations and respective initial recommendations.

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Case Studies (IO3)

A needs analysis of the societal security culture in the BSR revealed the demand for developing demand-driven and well-tailored training and education. This IO contributed to that by having developed case studies on four different topics which are basis to the learning material created in the project. The case studies are integrated in the course and can be used for other educational and crisis preparedness activities. The analyses of the cases were put in writing by students.

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Joint Pedagogical Approach (IO4)

The NEEDS project’s pedagogical approach – an Infographic

It presents different components used in the joint pedagogical approach both for the project activities and the therefrom resulting NEEDS Online Course, showing (in parts) the joint NEEDS vision of the learning process.

Digital solutions for online learning in societal security

This report displays what the so-called ‘digital turn’ in higher education (HE) means. The field of societal security is highly practice-orientated and includes such issues as close-to-real-crisis exercises, which all had to be cancelled for two years or so during the pandemic. Some of these have thankfully been compensated by innovative digital or other solutions. But the field has suffered from Covid-19, perhaps more than it has benefitted from the forced digitalisation. The report discusses the benefits, the challenges, and the possible solutions of the ‘digital turn’ in societal security education.

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Online Course Module (IO5)

NEEDS Online Course

This IO established an innovative online module for self-study that aims to increase knowledge of different topics and concepts across the field of societal security. The module is aimed at students of HEIs, and young professionals from practitioner organisations across the BSR (and beyond).

Learn more and join the course here:


NEEDS: Testing the Online Course – Results Analysis

Upon finalising the course module in societal security studies, expert practitioners from the field have taken the time and effort to test the course. This report presents an evaluation of the NEEDS online course, using their feedback obtained from questionnaires with a focus group and discussions with individual users.

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Report on Skills Self-Assessment: Collecting and analysing testing results of skills self-assessment

One of the NEEDS project’s main outcomes is an Online Course Module. The module is an innovative self-study module for students of HEIs, and young professionals from practitioner organisations across the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) and globally. The self-study module aims to increase knowledge of societal security in the BSR. To get an assessment while relying on self-study, a test was created that is taken before and after the course – such is considered a good pedagogical tool for estimating one’s learning success and skills progress. 

This report analyses the testing results of said skills self-assessment test. The testing was done to evaluate both the test as a tool, as well as to get an indication of the success of the self-study module. 

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NEEDS eLearning platform and Online Community for Societal Security (IO6)

The project preparation and research indicated that the societal security community in the BSR was lacking a common digital platform for sharing materials, experiences and other matters of common concern between professions, organisations, countries, and sectors. This IO worked towards identifying best possible platforms without duplicating existing structures. The project identified three platforms of relevance and created online communities in order to work around the needs and expectations of the diverse group.

Interested parties can join the platforms (free registration needed) and make use of all the collaboration and network opportunities that come with the shared use of such societal security community.


CMINE (Crisis Management Innovation Network Europe, is the platform for crisis management professionals from the EU and beyond. The hub facilitates collaboration and project sections, an online community platform and aims to foster innovation and research through meetings and workshops and cross-sector, multi-stakeholder exchange.


TUOVI is a website and digital service by the Finnish Ministry of Interior, that provides a platform for information sharing and a collaboration interface for stakeholders in the field of security.


Canvas is the e-learning platform used by numerous HEI. The Swedish Defence University is one of them and they host both the NEEDS Online Course, as well as a section for a NEEDS Online Community. Canvas was used as a foundation for creating the online community and is well established and adaptable to the needs of the community.

(All platforms require registration for data security but use is always free. Once registered, one can easily join the group/workspace/course that is called NEEDS.)

Testing the Online Community – Evaluation Report

This report presents an evaluation of the NEEDS online community, using user feedback obtained from questionnaires with a focus group and discussions with individual users. The report and the process of gathering the feedback aims to assess various aspects of the community, including accessibility and user-friendliness, networking tools, information sharing, cross-dissemination, and suggestions for improvement.

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Handbook for Societal Security Education in the BSR based on Project results and their transferability (IO7)

This IO presents a handbook that was based on the results of the project and discusses how the results can be transferred to HEIs and practitioner organisations both in the BSR and other regions. The handbook includes an analysis of the results, a study of the sustainability of these results, and an assessment of the transferability of the results to other institutions or regions.

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Policy Recommendations (IO8)

Policy Recommendations: Brief to CBSS Civil Protection Network’s Directors General

This document is the NEEDS Policy brief, a short and concise document used to report back to the Policy Area Secure Steering Group (EUSBSR) on the developments in the NEEDS project. It is the same brief that was used to inform the Directors for Civil Protection in the Baltic Sea Region on the findings and insights gathered and accumulated throughout the NEEDS project. The recommendations were presented to the Annual Meeting of the DGs with the request to acknowledge the recommendations and support them. The aim is to get commitment from the civil protection authorities to continuously contribute to developing needs-based education and studies in the field of societal security.

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Policy Recommendations:
Overview of the analysis and conclusions identified in the project’s lifetime – Identifying challenges and good practices for moving forward

The report at hand is giving an overview of the analysis and conclusions identified in the NEEDS project’s lifetime. Its objective is to contribute to producing the policy recommendations an overview of the analyses, the challenges and the good practices and conclusions for moving forward that were identified in the ISP discussions and overall project’s results and activities. The report was set to bring further discussions among the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Policy Area Secure and CBSS CPN experts about, on needs-based education and the NEEDS project in general.

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Links to CBSS processes

The project contributes the work of the CBSS on cooperation in the field of civil protection in the Baltic Sea Region, and particularly to:

  • Joint Position on Enhancing Cooperation in Civil Protection Area: In addition to generally contributing to the entire joint position, Priority 7 can be particularly highlighted, as it is “supporting mutually beneficial interaction between research and [civil protection] practitioners. The strategic objective is to make sure that research and project results are effectively incorporated into the national systems. All efforts should aim at conveying effectively the findings and results of research projects to practitioners in order to contribute to an improvement of their everyday work.” 
  • Vilnius II Declaration – A Vision for the Baltic Sea Region by 2030: the project will also help to fulfil the vision of the Vilnius II declaration, which envisages a Baltic Sea Region with “a strong and well-functioning multi-level governance structure for political dialogue, practical cooperation, and people-to-people contacts”, “with strengthened resilience across all parts of society”, and “close cooperation in education, science, research and innovation”. 
  • CBSS Action Plan 2021-2025: on societal security and civil protection in particular, the plan, which contains concrete actions for achieving the Vilnius II vision, seeks to promote “cooperation among civil protection stakeholders, including strengthened capacity in regional prevention, preparedness and response against emergencies”. 


  • Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) – lead partner 
  • Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service (Germany)
  • Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Finland)
  • Main School of Fire Service (Poland)
  • Riga Technical University (Latvia)
  • Swedish Defence University (Sweden)
  • UiT – The Artic University Norway
  • Union of the Baltic Cities (UBC) – Safe Cities Commission (represented by the Liepaja Municipal Police, Latvia).

Additional support

The NEEDS project is supported by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union.

The European Commission’s support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


  • Olga Zuin, CBSS Programme Coordinator (on maternity leave)
  • Franziska Seufert, CBSS Project Coordinator, [email protected]

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