Photo of Peter Forster


Associate Teaching Professor of Information Sciences and Technology
E375 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-8304
Additional Title(s)
Associate Dean for Online and Professional Education
Academic Program Coordinator, Homeland Security MPS
Ph.D., Political Science (International Relations/Comparative Politics), Penn State, 1997
M.A., Political Science (International Relations), Penn State, 1984
B.A., History with honors, Penn State, 1982

Dr. Forster is an associate teaching professor of Security & Risk Analysis in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), and an affiliate professor in Penn State’s School of International Affairs. As a member of a number of research centers, he studies risk and crisis management situation awareness, social network analysis, counterterrorism policies and strategies. His work includes using simulations and tabletop exercises to improve command and control.. Dr. Forster holds a Ph.D. in Political Science (International Relations); is the co-chair of the NATO/OSCE Partnership for Peace Consortium Combating Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) which brings academics and practitioners together to develop policy recommendations for the Department of Defense and NATO on counter-terrorism strategy and tactics; and co-course director of NATO's Defence Against Terrorism offered by the NATO School Oberammergau, Germany.

Dr. Forster’s primary areas of research and teaching interests are terrorism/counter-terrorism, risk and crisis management, international relations and national security and homeland security. Most recently, Forster helped develop and facilitate a tabletop exercise involving representatives from 40 countries to address the Foreign Terrorist Fighter threat (listen to a discussion: ( Since 2010, he has been the principle investigator on a grant exploring integrating processes and technologies to improve law enforcement’s situational awareness of major issues such as drug and human trafficking. He also oversees a research project on improving the understanding of how extremist organizations’ recruit, vet, and integrate Americans in cyberspace.  Dr. Forster serves on the Department of Homeland Security Subcommittee on Countering Violent Extremism, is a member of the advisory board of the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies online journal Terrorism: An Electronic Journal and Knowledge Base, and is the co-PI on the National Science Foundation’s Federal Cyber Corps Scholarship for Service grant at Penn State.

During his career, Dr. Forster has been involved in security sector reform initiatives including defense institution building in the Caucasus and South Central Europe as well as consulting on national distance education initiatives in Central Asia and the Caucasus.  He is the co-author and contributing author to books on NATO’s military burden sharing and intervention including most recently Multinational Military Intervention, Stephen J. Cimbala & Peter K. Forster and Policy, Strategy & War: The George W. Bush Defense Program, Stephen J. Cimbala ed. and Cognitive Systems Engineering Michael D, McNeese & Peter K. Forster, eds. (forthcoming). He has published articles on technology and terrorism, understanding distributed team cognition, homeland security, and American foreign policy and interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus. His current research focus is evolution of terrorists’ use of on-line and mobile technologies in a variety of aspects including the development of a tabletop exercise to identify indicators and warnings of foreign terrorist fighter threats.

Dr. Forster has extensive experience in online education including program design, development, implementation, management, and evaluation.  He consulted on developing national online programs in Central Asia and corporate program nationally and internationally, and continues to teach online for Penn State. Prior to joining IST, Peter worked in a number of administrative position with Penn State’s World Campus contributing to original plan that saw Penn State transition to online learning environment and subsequently to its strategic development.

Dr. Forster teaches courses on crisis and risk management, cyber-crime, terrorism, and war; counter-terrorism, the impact of information on 21st century society, war and conflict, and the international relations of the Middle East.  

Research Interests

Forster's research interests focus  on issues in counter-terrorism, the national security and cybersecurity nexus, risk management and social networks. He has worked on projects as diverse as identifying Drug and Sex Trafficking Networks in PA to developing models for understanding terrorists online communications/personalities and terrorist organizations' models of recruiting Americans. He works with the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, NATO, and other international organizations.

With more than 25 years of experience in distance learning, Forster is well-versed in the challenges and complexities of online education.

Research Keywords
Risk Management
National Security and Cybersecurity
Social Network Analysis