The Center for Disaster Management at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs provides a school-wide locus to support research, education, and training projects that focus on extreme events. The goal of the Center is to develop a coherent approach for research and analysis on policy issues related to disaster risk reduction and management that cross interorganizational, interdisciplinary, and interjurisdictional boundaries. To meet this goal, the Center engages in professional education and training of the next generation of policy makers, analysts, and managers who will be responsible for disaster risk reduction and management in public, private, and nonprofit organizations. The need for such a center is evident in the increasing number of public, private, and nonprofit organizations that are re-examining their capacity to withstand threats from all hazards – natural, technological, and deliberate.
Within GSPIA, the Center serves three major functions. First, it serves as a focal point for research and analysis on timely, reconnaissance studies of mitigation and response to actual disaster events. Such reconnaissance studies are invaluable in conducting an initial assessment of the conditions that precipitated disaster in order to frame key questions for research proposals to be submitted for external funding. Second, the Center maintains a web site for the timely search and exchange of information related to disaster events, with a particular focus on information technologies and their changing role in shaping communication of information and coordination of actions in response to disaster events. Finally, the Center synthesizes findings from ongoing research and evolving practice to prepare timely policy papers for practicing agencies on recommendations for innovative performance to reduce disaster risk. All three functions will be integrated into GSPIA’s fundamental mission of teaching, research, and public service.
A key goal of the Center for Disaster Management is to educate the next generation of researchers, analysts, policy makers and professional managers in disaster management-related disciplines through a world-class integrated program of innovative knowledge generation. It will enhance the quality of the educational experience for graduate and professional students who participate in the Center’s research and education projects. Center faculty and staff will develop an educational program to aid in the training of disaster management professionals and policy makers in multiple areas. This program will include a clearinghouse of educational and training resources, such as courses, modules, and materials to enhance existing courses or to aid development of new courses. An inventory of the University’s faculty and professionals will provide a database of individuals who can serve as lecturers or who can conduct peer-review for newly developed educational and training materials.
The Center provides a visible point of contact for public agencies at local, state, national and international levels of jurisdiction for research and education in disaster management. As governmental agencies have the legal responsibility for protecting citizens from extreme events, GSPIA provides a natural location for a Center for Disaster Management at the University. This role becomes increasingly important as the incidence and scale of disasters increase in cost, complexity, and consequences. The research currently underway at the Center involves interaction with local, state, national, and international public officials. Such research is essential to understand the rapid evolution of response operations in major disaster events and the integration of these distinct levels of operation into a national response system.