Disaster studies review and highlight the study of natural, accidental or intentional events that devastate countries or regions and can result in serious and severely negative social and economic problems for affected populations. College students learning about disaster studies will focus on how such events can affect populations with regard to serious injuries, loss of property, emotional distress, interruption of services, destruction of the infrastructure, and a complete failure of regional operating systems. Coursework will lead students toward a working knowledge of how first responders react to disasters, emergency services, development of emergency response programs to assist services, and search and rescue tactics to find missing and injured people after the disaster has devastated a region.
College students taking disaster study courses may also learn about volunteer and donation programs that go into effect following national disasters. Emergency response agencies have to maintain an accountability for all donated resources such as food, clothing or medical supplies, and it is critical that programs be put into place to ensure that these supplies are properly allocated to the populations needing the most care and social services.
Students enrolled in disaster studies will review some or all of the following topics:
• Global disaster trends
• Donor programs
• Characterization of disasters
• Reducing risk of disasters
• Coping and adapting to disasters
• Poverty issues
• Macroeconomic impacts
• Development models
• Disaster responses
• Disaster prone countries
• Government preparedness
• Preparedness plans
• Public awareness and warnings
• Pre-disaster activities
• Simulation exercises for disaster preparedness
• Disaster organization plans
• Military and civil defense
• Government responses
• Drugs and medical supplies
• Social services and disaster relief
• Search and rescue
• Information dissemination and coordination
The Institute for Disaster Studies offers instructional programs on the topic to allow undergraduate students to develop an appreciation for the discipline. In addition, the Institute for Disaster Mental Health at SUNY New Paltz offers a course for college undergraduates that gives an insightful resource to the study of disasters with an online review called Disaster Studies. Students should not miss MIT's OpenCourseWare offering called Disaster, Vulnerability and Resilience.
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