Global Pandemics and National Security

March 22 to April 1, 2021 

This new online course, the first of its kind, will offer students the opportunity to learn about and explore the many possible impacts of global pandemics on the Canadian practice of security and intelligence. It will take as a starting point the experiences of dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and extend the discussion to consider how best the Canadian security and intelligence system can contribute to future responses to global pandemics. The course will focus on the roles of early warning, analysis of threats, information provision to decision-makers, action-oriented responses, and efforts to monitor and predict the consequences of pandemics.

The Program

The course is designed to explore how the Canadian security and intelligence system can best adapt to the challenges, both globally and domestically, posed by pandemic threats. The focus on Canadian practice will be supplemented by a comparative perspective, drawing on some of the approaches of our allies.

The course will be delivered in modules, with asynchronous video presentations by the course instructors, spread over a two-week period to allow for maximum schedule flexibility for participants. Each topic module will feature a 30-minute presentation. Students should budget on average 1 to 1.5 hours per day for the course over the two-week period. There will be moderated online group conversations at fixed times during the course. Student engagement will occur through email Q and A and moderated online group conversations.

Registered students will be provided in advance with a detailed course agenda and schedule. Students will also be provided with key documentary material to support the video presentations.

The language of instruction will be English. The Chatham House rule will be applied to chat and online group discussions.The presentations will be at the unclassified level using only material in the public domain.

Students who complete the course will be awarded a certificate by the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Who Should Attend

The course is intended to benefit:

  • Public servants from Federal/Provincial/Territorial (F/P/T) jurisdictions, at all career levels, and other stakeholders, who want to make sure they fully understand the role that intelligence can play in providing early warning and knowledge about pandemic outbreaks and impacts;
  • Public servants and other stakeholders who want to increase their understanding of national security policies, mandates, and resources to better enable the fulfilment of their organisation’s responsibilities;
  • Public servants seeking a better understanding of the role played by open source intelligence;
  • Public servants engaged in pandemic preparedness and in review of government responses.

Covered in the Course

The course will be organised around 14 online short modules, each involving a 30-minute video presentation. Topics covered in these modules will include:

  • Understanding pandemics and their evolution
  • The role of the WHO
  • The role of federal health agencies
  • The Canadian security and intelligence system: capabilities and engagement
  • Security requirements during a pandemic
  • Organizing for the future

A detailed agenda and schedule will be provided to students following registration in the course.



Greg Fyffe was the Executive Director of the Intelligence Assessment Staff (IAS) in the Privy Council Office from 2000 to 2008. The IAS prepares intelligence assessments. He was a Senior Fellow in the Advanced Leadership Program of the Canada School of the Public Service from 2008 to 2011, and a Senior Fellow in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa from 2008 to 2014, where he also taught a graduate seminar on security and intelligence with Wesley Wark. Currently, he is a consultant and President of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies. Greg Fyffe is an instructor/facilitator with the Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership at the University of Ottawa in two programs: the Canadian Security and Intelligence Leadership Program, and the Public Policy Leadership Program.  He also co-teaches a two-day course on Strategic Thinking for public servants with Thomas Townsend at the Centre.

Wesley Wark

Wesley Wark is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa and a professor emeritus of the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. He is one of Canada’s leading academic experts on national security and intelligence. He is a founding member of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies and served for two terms as President. He served on the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on National Security between 2005 and 2009 and has testified before Parliamentary committees on national security and intelligence issues on numerous occasions.

His most recent publication is an edited volume, Secret Intelligence: A Reader (2nd edition 2019). He is currently working on a collection of essays to be published by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) on “Global Pandemics: Mapping the Future of National Security.


During the COVID-19 crisis, this course will be offered entirely online.


$1,200 + HST

The course fee will include online course material. The course will be offered in English and class size will be kept small: a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 22 students.

To Register:

Candidates will be admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Prospective candidates for the course are asked to send a brief statement of interest and a short bio detailing their career and educational background. This material should be sent electronically to the following address:

Once your participation has been approved, please select the appropriate date to register:

Please read our cancellation policy.

For further Information on the Course

If you have questions regarding the registration process, please contact us at, phone: 613-796-6100.

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