Changing Directions: Disaster Academia

Face it.  Emergency Management is changing. Academia is changing what emergency management looks like, and the expanding needs of emergency management is changing what

Face it.  Emergency Management is changing.

Academia is changing what emergency management looks like, and the expanding needs of emergency management is changing what academia needs to offer.

That's what this blog is going to be about.

The photo at the left should look familiar.  I've been writing the Campus Emergency Management blog during the past year. I'm still a full-time emergency management practitioner and have been for 20 years.  I'm not an academic.  I have an abiding interest in this topic because I want to make sure that when I retire, my replacement knows as much about how to do my job as I do.

Emergency managers -- the job that started out as a Civil Defense warden in the 40's -- is becoming less response and more management.  When the EOC is activated, we are more likely to be the EOC Manager than the Ops Chief.  We attend countless and ongoing meetings with administrators.  We write plans for pandemics, power failures and continuity of operations as well as plans for earthquakes, floods and hurricanes.  We can speak 'crisis communication' and GIS and sociology and sustainability.

Academia has responded by offering hundreds of programs for degrees or certificates in emergency management or homeland security or business continuity.  There is compelling and exciting research being conducted in disaster resiliency and public perception.  Students are responding in droves, driving the need for more diverse delivery methods, i.e.: distance learning.

Meanwhile, the gap between emergency management practitioners and emergency management academians still exists.  Practitioners are adamant about the value of experience over education.  Academians are exasperated that education is not valued more highly.

The next generation emergency manager will have degrees and certificates.  I want to discuss what curriculums should teach so new graduates have a good working knowledge of this field.  I want to highlight research that will profoundly impact our jobs.

I'd like to play some part in bridging the gap between the practitioner and academic sides of emergency management.  I'd like your help to do that.

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