When disaster strikes, people turn to emergency management leaders—qualified professionals who have the skills to guide mitigation and recovery efforts. In an unstable world, emergency managers are becoming a valuable commodity. Without an infrastructure to train these professionals, where can they gain the experience they need? Created in 2013 to meet a growing demand, the Georgetown Graduate Program in Emergency & Disaster Management (EDM) is focused on preparing emergency management professionals for success through applied learning and experience.
The Executive Master of Professional Studies program consists of hybrid courses that include seven weeks of online work and one week of onsite residency. Students meet in places that have endured serious disasters, such as New Orleans, where they hear from both survivors and the emergency managers who led the response. Through 54 hours of class and exercise time during the week, students gain insight from the experiences of people who lived through the disaster.
The program attracts students from a variety of fields, including health professionals such as epidemiologists, physicians, and nurses. Students from the health professions bring a unique perspective, says program director Joelle Miles. Cooperation and understanding between the medical professions and emergency managers is becoming increasingly important. The EDM program trains students in everything from dealing with tactical field situations to coordinating infectious disease response, weaving public health elements into courses.
Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies has focused on meeting demand for applied learning programs that help build skills for practitioners working in the field. Prerequisites include six years of experience in a related field and current work in a leadership position. By bringing together experienced practitioners and faculty, the program fosters a spirit of collaboration and allows students to learn from one another.
The disaster program is more than just an avenue into traditional emergency management jobs and government agencies such as FEMA, says Miles. More and more industries and sectors need emergency management skills. The EDM program is helping to train new generations of leaders who return to their fields ready to meet challenging disasters head-on.
By Allan Hutchison-Maxwell (S’14)