Emergency helpers – disaster management is a degree course offering a variety of job prospects
Earthquakes, storms, floods and droughts pose a threat to the population throughout the world – and they are increasing in numbers. So there is an urgent need for people who know what to do in an emergency. Disaster management studies prepare students for this work.
In the two decades since the 1990s, the number of natural disasters has doubled from around 200 to more than 400 a year. Experts estimate that nine out of ten disasters are caused by climate change. According to the United Nation’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), more than 2.2 million people around the world have been killed in natural disasters since 1975. Two thirds of the victims and damage were the result of storms, floods, droughts and other meteorological phenomena.
Disaster management combines various courses of study
The demand for disaster managers is growing in parallel to the number of natural disasters and crises. Disaster preparedness and disaster management or crisis management belong together and require quite different skills: In different study courses, students learn how to cope with the after-effects of humanitarian crises and natural disasters as disaster managers. They learn how to draw up emergency plans, coordinate assignments and set up a crisis team.
The aim of this training is to raise awareness about the challenges the job holds, create global networks and formulate international standards for disaster management. Studies combine content from the natural sciences and the arts, including logistics, medicine, politics, anthropology, psychology, structural knowledge, practical orientation and risk analysis methods.
Examples of Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs
In Germany and in many other countries, there is a whole range of courses leading to either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree. Each university has its own focus. Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences offers a Bachelor’s course in Safety and Hazard Defense, for example, while students at Bonn University can gain a Master’s degree in Disaster Management and Risk Governance.
At Weimar University, students can enroll in a Master’s degree course, taught in English, in Natural Hazards and Risks in Structural Engineering to learn about the devastating effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and storms on buildings and infrastructure. The course focuses on disaster preparedness, teaching students important and necessary points for the construction of new buildings. Many of the students in this course are foreign students, as they are more likely to be familiar with earthquakes and floods from their own country. The course on natural hazards was set up back in 2003 in Weimar, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has been awarding grants for the course since 2006.
International disaster management programs
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Concepcion (UdeC) in Chile cooperate as strategic partners. They are planning an innovative joint cross-border Master’s degree program in Regional Sciences, designed to promote joint research. The course will focus on disaster management and vulnerability-based spatial planning and is geared towards graduates in the social and environmental sciences from Chile and Germany. After completing their degree, students should be in a position to work in public or private institutions connected with spatial planning. The courses and seminars will be held both in Chile and in Germany and will be taught in German and Spanish.
Good job prospects for disaster managers
Disaster preparedness and disaster management require a wide variety of skills. In addition to the expertise acquired at university, key requirements include assertiveness, decisiveness and political sensitivity.
Disaster management graduates have a wide variety of job prospects: in government or non-governmental organisations, in the private sector, for banks, companies, churches, research institutes and governments. Most project-related work offers two options: people either work directly in the field, or they coordinate assistance from an office. And although the cause of disaster management is very dramatic, it is certainly a very interesting degree course in a professional environment that will always be dynamic and that is primarily about helping people.
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