Emergency management has evolved extensively since the 1950s era of civil defense, when personnel came from a military or emergency services background. Once solely the domain of local government, it has become a complex, multidiscipline area that can be located within: state, local, tribal, and territorial governmental agencies; nongovernmental organizations; faith-based organizations; academic institutions; military; and public and private sector agencies and organizations. Emergency management is a risk-based discipline that is dynamic and complex, making it difficult to assess, particularly with low-probability, high-consequence events.
As emergency management evolves and competes with conflicting organizational priorities, it is important that it be able to compete effectively while demonstrating an ability to be productive. In 2013, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA)entified productivity as being vital to the economic growth of a nation, allowing organizations to increase output while maintaining input numbers. The AWPAentified a positive correlation between learning and productivity. Although education in itself may not increase production, higher levels of education are important, as they can helpentify specific attributes of productive workers. Furthermore, the 2013 AWPA literature review recognizes that education is not a “dominating factor,” but “as more knowledgeable and skilful workers join the work force, the overall productive capacity of labour is enhanced” (p. 41).
Justification Emergency management increasingly plays an important role in public safety, growing to include university courses specific to emergency management for a wide range of disciplines, levels of government, businesses, and approaches. The relatively late establishment of these programs within academia has meant that these programs have developed within and been greatly influenced by other disciplines such as social sciences, human and physical geographies, political sciences, and engineering. These disciplines have significantly contributed to the development of the emergency management body of knowledge and the existing emergency management higher education programs.
Emergency managers have a high level of responsibility, and many have pursued academic qualifications. Over the past 20 years, the number of universities offering programs related to emergency management has grown. In an effort to address this growth in programs, several organizations have compiled lists of various programs. These range from the International Association of Emergency Managers-Oceania’s list of University Emergency Management Programs Offered in the Oceania Region, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s The College List, the Institute of Civil Protection & Emergency Management, and the Emergency Management Academy.
These lists have contributed to the awareness of emergency management higher education programs through their respective organizations. However, an analysis of the various lists revealed separate agendas with information collected at different times and on different program types and locations. This has resulted in an inconsistency of information, duplication of some programs, outdated information with some programs no longer offered, and limited details pertaining to individual programs. The Global Emergency Management Higher Education Database Initiative will resolve these issues, creating a more efficient and productive database for all stakeholders.
Target Audience The International Association of Emergency Managers’ (IAEM) Global Student Council (GSC) is dedicated to supporting its student members. One project that was unanimously approved by the GSC Board is the “Backpack to Briefcase” initiative. This initiative examines the various stakeholders in emergency management and discovers how the IAEM can best target their future requirements. Online forums have further revealed that academia, practitioners, and students of emergency management are interested in better understanding the availability of educational programs and the quality of these programs as they move forward in their education and careers.
The Global Emergency Management Higher Education Database will enable the Global Student Council to better respond to the needs of the emergency management student body by leveraging the work already started. The council has 29 student chapters and more than 1,200 student members across four regions – Canada, United States, Oceania, and Europa – with three more underway in Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, and International. These regions are in line with IAEM Council regions. The Global Student Council can utilize its unique position in the emergency management marketplace as the leading organization for students to develop this project effectively.
Data Compilation A preliminary search on information pertaining to tertiary institutions offering programs in emergency management has revealed several lists but was unable to locate databases specific to this area. The higher education database will leverage the Global Student Council’s international presence toentify all universities that offer programs in emergency management on a global level. This includes the following three phases:
Phase I: Initial programentification (to be completed by mid-2015) – This phase will investigate developing a partnership between a student chapter and the council as part of a university internship program. In return, the student chapter will conduct research into universities offering emergency management degrees. Phase I willentify the student chapter partners, all countries, and all universities to gather information on:
Name of the university;
Name of degree programs (diploma, bachelor, master, doctorate, or Ph.D. level);
Full name of program(s); and
Faculty or school that oversees the program.
Phase II: Secondary data collection (to be completed by the end of 2015) – Secondary data will be collected to enable comparisons between programs. Phase II will gather information on:
Name of program coordinator;
Who to contact;
Date program was established;
Enrollment option 1 (full time or part time);
Enrollment option 2 (international and/or domestic enrollment);
Delivery method (in-person, distant/online, flexible, blended);
Costs 1 (international: per course and total);
Costs 2 (domestic: per course and total);
Staff (academic vs. emergency management practitioner background, or both);
Duration (full-time program length);
Student numbers (total and per annum);
Phase III: Presentation and conversion (to be completed by mid-2016) – The final phase will improve the presentation of data and enable a more robust system for allowing students and potential students to better understand existing emergency management programs. Phase III will include:
Improving overall design presentation (include university logo, etc.);
Converting information into the database;
Enabling search functions;
Rolling out the database; and
Maintaining the database.
Continued Growth The continued growth of emergency management as a viable career path will continue to demonstrate a requirement for information on higher education institutions offering courses and subjects pertinent to emergency management. The Global Emergency Management Higher Education Database will add to the emergency management body of knowledge, improve the ability of stakeholders to access a more comprehensive and accurate database, and allow for a more accurate comparison and assessment of existing programs.
Matthew P. Ellis
Matthew P. Ellis is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the IAEM Global Student Council President. He is the former Emergency Services Coordinator for the City of Sydney, Security and Emergency Management Unit. His research and interests examine productivity, human capital theory, and the role of the emergency manager, and the continued development of the emergency management industry.