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CCU Chanticleer Intelligence Brief offers monitoring and analysis of COVID-19 pandemic

April 9, 2020
The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief has shifted gears to focus on the global pandemic COVID-19. More than 80 students monitor aspects of the pandemic nationally and globally.The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief has shifted gears to focus on the global pandemic COVID-19. More than 80 students monitor aspects of the pandemic nationally and globally.The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief has shifted gears to focus on the global pandemic COVID-19. More than 80 students monitor aspects of the pandemic nationally and globally.

Each spring, one Coastal Carolina University student organization presents information on essential intelligence and national security to a campus and community audience. This year, the topic of its analysis shifted to an issue central to every American’s life.

The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) is a pre-professional intelligence experience offered through the Intelligence and National Security Studies (INTEL) program, housed within the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts. Typically, members conduct research and analysis throughout the academic year; publish a monthly online briefing and biannual journal; and present their findings at an annual symposium on global news topics relating to intelligence and national security.

However, when the University shifted to fully online instruction in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the CIB shifted gears, aware that its services as a news outlet were more important than ever. Joseph Fitsanakis, CIB faculty mentor and associate professor in the Department of Politics, explained how the shift occurred.

“As soon as the campus adjusted its operations, the CIB repurposed its entire command structure and launched a new project called the CIB COVID-19 Intelligence Project,” said Fitsanakis. “At this time, we have more than 80 students who are monitoring various aspects of the coronavirus pandemic both domestically and internationally. They are guided and peer-mentored in groups by the CIB executives who help me manage this new project.”

The CIB equips students with the technical and soft skills required of analysts in the intelligence field. Its student membership structure includes eight executives, who coordinate and mentor members of the group; 22 senior analysts, who are experienced analysts reviewing complex topics; and about 50 analysts, who tackle real-time questions while still in training.

The CIB’s new goal is to help the general public understand the complex medical, social, economic, and political effects of the crisis through clear facts and unbiased analysis. So far, the organization has covered topics such as the potential imposition of martial law on the United States, along with the duration and effectiveness of nonessential international travel bans. The organization will update its website as news continues to develop.

Additionally, the CIB is producing a weekly podcast that not only covers national security issues, but also addresses the changing nature of student life. Fabio Molano, junior INTEL major and executive director of the CIB, spoke of the importance for fellow students to hear from the student perspective.

“It is, I think, reassuring for other college students and young people like us to hear from other young people to give their analysis of this topic,” said Molano. “What we focus on has to do with national security, economics, and politics. But it will also have to do with the human level and the student level. What impact will this have on student education? What impact is this going to have on us locally? I think that’s the best thing we can provide right now: clear facts and a clear estimation from a student perspective.”

Fitsanakis noted the project allows students to apply their skills and curiosity to the current crisis and offers them real-world experiences even in a less-than-ideal learning period.

“We are making the best of the situation we find ourselves in,” said Fitsanakis. “The students are actually excited to be working on this project and contact me daily with a wealth of information from nearly every corner of the world.”

Molano hopes the CIB’s unbiased coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic helps alleviate anxiety and uncertainty for everyone affected.

“With the CIB and our intelligence project, our biggest mission is to keep the public informed, but to also try to ease some of that uncertainty,” said Molano. “It’s not a perfect trade craft—intelligence and analysis can’t accurately predict the future 100 percent of the time—but it is something that can ease uncertainty in situations. So that’s the biggest thing we hope to do.”

Additional information:

CIB COVID-19 Intelligence Project website

CIB COVID-19 Intelligence Project podcast, episode 1