In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

“Disaster 101: Preparing Students For A Scary Future”: Colleges Increase Course Offerings In Anti-Terror, Emergency Mgmt, Cyber Security

July 17th, 2010 · No Comments has a story today pointing out that “more American colleges are offering classes that teach students to deal with a shrinking and increasingly dangerous world.” I’m posting the article because a) it’s an interesting phenomenon and b) to me, it just underscores the fact that government officials should not be afraid to raise “scary” topics with public if academics are having no problem doing so with their students because that’s what is necessary and appropriate in this era.

In the piece, “Disaster 101: Preparing Students For A Scary Future,” Linton Weeks reports:

…Whole programs — anti-terrorism, emergency management, cybersecurity, environmental pollution control — are designed to prepare students for lucrative careers battling the things that scare us.

“Traditionally,” says Gregory L. Shaw, co-director of the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University in Washington, “emergency management has been primarily a second or later career for professionals from the first-responder community — fire, police and emergency medical services — and military personnel.” But, he says, “more and more, careers in emergency management … are becoming a first career for younger people entering the job market.”

In 1994, there were four university-level emergency management programs in the U.S., according to Shaw. Today there are more than 150 and another 30 currently in development or approved. And, Shaw adds, his graduating students seem to be finding jobs.

What explains the growth?

There is a raft of reasons for the proliferation of security-related courses. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 established a dozen Centers of Excellence at universities and research laboratories around the nation. The centers were asked by the feds to increase the nation’s understanding of various aspects of dangerous threats, including explosives, chemical and biological attacks, the behavioral side of evil and other alarm-bell issues.

The centers receive millions of dollars from the federal government each year to sustain and enhance their programs. According to a July 2010 report from the Heritage Foundation, “Academic institutions have become a core member of the national homeland security enterprise.”

The Heritage Foundation report points out that emergency management and homeland security education programs teach students the key skills needed in emergency situations. The programs promote tried-and-true techniques that are useful for dealing with — and even avoiding — domestic emergencies. They encourage academics to develop applicable research in security-related areas. And, according to the report, “besides educating students, training current professionals, and fostering research, academia assists in homeland security planning and exercises and the sharing of best practices.”

Other factors feed into the increased number of programs. Continued unrest and hostilities around the globe create a sense of instability and danger that call for expanded roles of security corporations and emergency management organizations. Economies are faltering; the environment is threatened; technologies make waging war from long distances more possible.

The media microscope focuses our attention on one cataclysm after another — the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the earthquake in Haiti and the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher in 2010. As natural and human-made disasters abound, we look for fast-responders and problem-solvers.

When life gives you lemons, secure the lemonade stand.

The full article can be read here. Thanks to Andrew Blauner for bringing this to my attention.

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Tags: Education

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