Disaster as a Discipline: The Status of Emergency Management Education in the U.S.

March 2005 (VOL. 23, NO. 1)

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At the July 2003 Boulder, Colorado (U.S.) Natural Hazards Workshop, Dennis Mileti declared that since people talked about emergency management as a discipline, “therefore it is.” Though he was not the first to so-state (ICMA 1991), he did so in a timely manner as the number of EM programs continues to grow. Such disciplinary designations are not so easily conferred. To consider if emergency management education can rightfully be called a discipline, this paper reviews the words used to name degrees and how the main term has been defined (i.e., emergency management), identifies the implicit core curriculum, and compares how introductory textbooks present the history of the profession. The paper then supports adding theory and methods courses to curricula, a disciplinary standard mandated by accreditation agencies in the U.S. The paper concludes by looking at instructional delivery modes and suggests how faculty might further establish their claim to a place in the academy.