Degrees in Emergency & Disaster Management

Course List

Core Courses

Students wishing to earn the MPS in Emergency & Disaster Management will be required to complete two core courses: an Ethics and a Capstone course. Grades of “B” or better are required in both courses to be eligible to graduate. The first core course, Ethics and Critical Decision Making, is taken at the beginning of the student’s studies, and the second, Capstone, is taken during the student’s final term. Course descriptions for both are below.

MPDM-500: Ethics and Critical Decision Making (3 credits)

The Ethics course is a core course in all Georgetown SCS MPS programs. In the first part of this course, students are introduced to ethical methodologies, principles, values, and frameworks. In the second part of the course, students study discipline- and field-specific codes of ethics within the profession. The course explores the ethical responsibilities all disaster management professionals have to themselves, organizations, the government, and the public. In the third part of the course, students apply an ethical decision-making framework and gain experience in decision-making surrounding ethical issues. Discussions include ethical situations based on past and current real-world scenarios, with topic discussions focusing on the ethical issues facing emergency managers. During their final project, students codify an individual code of ethics in relation to professional codes of conduct.

MPDM-900: Capstone (3 credits) 

The Capstone course provides an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned in the program by producing a substantive piece of work under the tutelage of an industry advisor and program faculty. Capstone projects are aligned with students’ chosen areas of interest. Students have the opportunity to present their work to industry professionals for review and feedback. Each student receives assistance in devising a strategy to support the topic of interest, consistent with the course goals, by semester’s end. Classroom assignments and lectures also focus on preparing students for successful careers after they graduate from the program.

Foundation Courses

Course descriptions for each of the four foundation courses proposed for the MPS-EDM program are provided below.

MPDM-600: Theory and Legal Framework (3 credits)

This course will provide the disaster risk management student with an advanced all-hazards preparedness view of the complexities of emergency management and disaster response, from local, state, and international/ global perspectives. It grounds students in the historical context and rapidly changing factors impacting global and U.S. emergency management practices, including theoretical concepts (such as risk, hazard, sustainability, resilience, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation), legal structures, the risk assessment community and their skill sets and core competencies. Students understand the evolution of the emergency management system, environmental public health systems (and opportunity for integration), and public expectations, perceptions, and engagement. By the end of this course, students will demonstrate how to respond to historical and hypothetical scenarios by applying knowledge of hazards, public health considerations, community readiness, and regulations.

MPDM-610: Project Management and Budgeting for Emergencies and Disasters (3 credits)

Disaster management professionals must learn how to develop all-hazards preparedness plans addressing multiple types of emergencies and disasters (including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, public health emergencies, and technological disasters). This course equips students with the knowledge and tools they need to successfully execute project management techniques and thereby perform efficient planning and response activities. Students will practice competent risk assessment and risk communication processes with ethical project management strategies. This course also teaches students how emergency management programs fit into the strategic/fiscal plans and priorities of governments and organizations. Furthermore, students learn how to develop and manage a budget and how to create a realistic fiscal plan for high consequence/low probability events. By the end of the course, students will be able to advocate for the importance of prevention, mitigation, and financial preparedness in emergency and disaster management.          

MPDM-620: Risk Perception Awareness, Public Communications, and Stakeholder Engagement (3 credits)

In this course, students develop the skills to successfully communicate with various stakeholders concerning disaster preparedness and management. Particular emphasis is given to the awareness of risk perception, and its subsequent effects on risk tolerance and hazard mitigation.

MPDM-630: GIS for Emergency & Disaster Management (3 credits)

This course is for emergency and disaster management students interested in learning the many facets of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for emergency management. The unfortunate reality is that emergencies and disasters will continue to proliferate in size, scope, and intensity. More people in diverse geographical contexts will be affected by future emergencies. Given that emergencies are fundamentally spatial in nature, GIS plays a critical role in emergency management.  In this course you will learn the conceptual, technological, analytical and representational capacities of GIS as they apply to the policy and practice of emergency management.

Elective Courses

Sample course descriptions for elective courses proposed to be a part of the MPS-EDM program are listed below. SCS anticipates adding elective courses to respond to program growth, industry developments, and student demand.

MPDM-640: Natural Hazards and Disasters (3 credits)

This course explores natural hazards and the multidimensional aspects surrounding these events that result in disaster. Students will gain an understanding of the underlying physical processes behind hazards, the socioeconomic characteristics that manufacture risk and result in disproportionate impacts on communities, and potential mitigation, response, and recovery strategies. Coincident with case studies and readings on the underlying processes of hazards, the course will explore the topic of societal vulnerability and resilience. Students will learn through case studies, policy readings, and academic literature. Students will apply their knowledge by evaluating best practices and applying the theoretical frameworks covered throughout the course.

MPDM-650: Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism (3 credits)

This course introduces the students to the emergency management aspects of a terrorist attack. A range of scenarios will be examined, including the challenges associated with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive hazards. Students will look at the planning challenges from preparedness through to recovery, with comparative analysis to natural disasters to determine the different requirements. Particular focus will be given to real world examples where possible. Terrorism & WMD requires students to examine the elements of a coordinated, multi-jurisdictional, multi-discipline response. When planning against such high impact-low probability scenarios students will explore horizon scanning for threats and countermeasures, risk communication and the use of ICT to support planning and decision making.

MPDM-660: International Humanitarian Disasters  (3 credits)

Students in this course explore disaster management in the international arena. This course examines disaster management practices in other countries as well as how international assistance can support those national systems during a large disaster. Through an examination of the current humanitarian system, with a strong emphasis on the U.S. government’s provision of international humanitarian assistance, students consider the range of challenges that face key leaders in designing and delivering this assistance, as well as the limitations of current best practices and research to offer solutions to these challenges.

MPDM-670: Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Emergency Management (3 credits)

This course focuses on the many ways in which socio-cultural features of a community may impact different aspects of disaster planning, response, and recovery. Students learn to integrate these considerations into the planning process and how to incorporate considerations for vulnerable populations. This course also teaches students to recognize and plan for socio-cultural and/or geo-political sensitivities while minimizing unintended social or health consequences.

MPDM-680: Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in EDM (3 credits)

The emergency and disaster management discipline is increasingly faced with complexity--complexity in crisis situations, politics and policy, social vulnerability and resilience, community perceptions of risk, and more. These complexities can be addressed by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating data and results, and it is important to understand the different research approaches available to researchers and knowledge practitioners. It’s also important to understand the different philosophical assumptions and interpretive foundations that frame our understanding. This course explores quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research approaches, drawing on the interdisciplinary literature that emergency and disaster management draws from. Students will conduct critical evaluations of research design and dissemination, and construct a research proposal for a topic of their choice. This course also explores the many ethical considerations taken when conducting research in the emergency and disaster management discipline.

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