Managing Complex Disasters Electives

Students pursuing the master’s degree or any one of the three certificates can enroll in any of the elective courses listed below.  

Environmental Disasters: Science, Response and Mitigation

Introduction to disaster science:  Why is it important? What are the economic costs and the global consequences? How does plate tectonics help us predict where major disasters might strike? How do timescales of disasters vary, and why is that critical to mitigation and response?  This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 1.

The Arctic

A geoscience approach to understanding the future of the Arctic region. The course is designed to introduce students to the geography as well as the important geological and ecological components of the Arctic. Students will be introduced to Arctic geography and to such issues as climate change and international competition for resources.  We will discuss the vast opportunities that global warming will bring to these areas and the social, ecological and environmental costs of these opportunities. This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 1.

Food Security in a Rapidly Changing World

The course will introduce students to the challenges of formulating and implementing plans for food security.  The focus will be on the interaction between various factors (climate change, economic development, political decisions, etc.) that determine food security. This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 1. 

Economics of Disaster Recovery

Students will discuss the ways in which governments, NGOs, corporations and non-state actors use informational activities as a form of power.  This course will explore theories, capabilities, functions, tools and techniques for influencing the attitudes and behaviors of targeted foreign audiences.  Working through various case studies and scenarios, students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to plan and analyze influence operations and counter their threats.  This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 2.

Intercultural Relations

The field of intercultural relations includes, but is not limited to, topics such as immigrant acculturation and integration, intergroup relations and intercultural communication.  Students will be introduced to some of the historical and political conditions that make intercultural communication possible, the barriers that exist to effective intercultural communication, and possible solutions to the problem of intercultural misunderstandings in complex emergencies. This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 2.

Theory and Practice in Humanitarian Response and Human Rights Protection

This course will provide an introduction to the foundational concepts essential for understanding and engaging in humanitarian and human rights research and action.  Some of the questions this course will address are:  What is the difference between humanitarian and human rights approaches and legal frameworks?  What does it mean to describe an intervention as ‘rights based’?  What strategies do human rights and humanitarian actors use to strengthen the rights of vulnerable populations such as stigmatized minorities or children?  This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 2.

Women, Peace and Security

According to the Women, Peace and Security Act, “The United States should be a global leader in promoting the participation of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution and post-conflict relief and recovery efforts.”  Drawing upon case studies from Somalia, Haiti and Syria, this course will address socioeconomic and cultural issues that have a direct impact on women.  Students will also discuss issues of sexual violence and the role of women in peacemaking.  This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 2.

Combatting Developing World’s Health Challenges

The goal of this course is to understand the major health policy challenges that the developing countries currently face and how they contribute to human insecurity and social instability in those countries.  In addition to recent pandemics, this course will look at the current burden and distribution of disease across the developing world.  Through readings and lectures from the public health, economics and medical literature, we will focus on the causes behind the prevalence of diseases in certain regions.  This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 3.

Disasters and Diseases:  How Do the Poor in Developing Countries Cope with Public Health Crises?  

The poor are particularly prone to different shocks, such as diseases, floods, droughts and wars.  It is important to understand how these populations attempt to manage these types of complex disasters.  The goal of this course is to understand how the poor in developing countries, a population most vulnerable given their lack of resources, attempt to cope with unexpected health calamities.  We will focus on different policies used by governments and nonprofits to help the poor cope with these crises.  This course is especially appropriate for Certificate 3.

The Media in Humanitarian Disasters

This course explores the role of the media in international crises and peacebuilding, and the techniques adopted by state and non-state actors as well as international organizations to influence media performance before, during and after violent conflicts. It begins by examining the theoretical role of the media in peacebuilding and in international crises. Then, through a case study approach, it measures media performance in practice in the major conflicts of the cold war and in the post 9/11 era. The course also explores the role of the media in international peace support operations ranging from the military humanitarian interventions in the Balkans in the 1990s to recent UN Peacekeeping Operations in the DRC, Somalia and Sudan.

Upcoming Terms

  • Fall 2021 semester: August 30 – December 17, 2021
  • Spring 2022 semester: January 24 – May 13, 2022