Florida International University’s Academy for International Disaster Preparedness is now part of the academic repertoire at Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work. This synthesis underscores Stempel College’s interdisciplinary nature whereby students are educated in dynamic disciplines and participate in a multiday, skill-based disaster field exercise to better prepare them to become leaders in rapidly evolving field.
Launched in 2015, the academy’s Master of Arts in Disaster Management is specifically designed to prepare and inspire students interested in the new profession, as well as existing practitioners to strengthen their formal education in disaster management, international humanitarian relief and homeland security.
“Environmental disasters and public health are key components in the program, and a major focus of Stempel College’s mission,” said Dr. Tomás R. Guilarte, dean of Stempel College. “It’s exciting to see the combination of science and practice manifest in new ways with diverse colleagues and students.”
Students enrolled in this 12-month degree program gain real-world experience through the academy’s partnerships with local, state and federal disaster responders; firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement, emergency managers, health care professionals, military personnel, international disaster communities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
Furthermore, students are also exposed to disaster response organizations such as Miami-Dade Office of Emergency Management, National Hurricane Center, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, U.S. Southern Command and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as many others.
Many current students and adjunct faculty, who work for these and other relief organizations, have already deployed or are preparing for deployment to Texas to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey; the latest natural disaster to wreak havoc on our country is a reminder of how crucial it is to train for disaster preparedness.
“We believe that global disaster preparedness through education can lead to a greater survival rate, the reduction of human suffering, improved response coordination and more effective recovery from a major disaster,” said Mr. Ruben D. Almaguer, the academy’s executive director. “Our programs and initiatives teach a set of skills not even contemplated a decade ago.”