Dickinson Launches New Master’s Program and Global Partnership

Managing Complex Disasters Electives

by Tony Moore

Master’s Degree in Managing Complex Disasters

To get the next generation of thinkers and leaders ready for a monumental task—one that spans such interdisciplinary issues as globalization, mass migration, technological innovations, pandemics and environmental degradation—Dickinson is launching its first master’s program, in managing complex disasters

“For more than two centuries, Dickinson has been preparing its students to cope with and exploit complexity,” says Douglas Stuart, professor emeritus of political science and international studies, adjunct research professor at the U.S. Army War College and co-director of the Dickinson master’s program. “And our curriculum has evolved in ways that make it ideally suited to understanding these types of problems.”

Noting that the college places a high priority on international perspectives and interdisciplinary modes of analysis—and continually tests these approaches against real- world challenges—Stuart says Dickinson is a leader in the international campaign to understand and ameliorate these catastrophic developments. What’s more, Dickinson has long been at the forefront of sustainability, a notion at the heart of managing complex disasters.

The 30-credit online program can be completed in one year as a full-time student or two years as a part-time student. It’s an ideal launchpad for professionals who want to tackle the most complex disaster and humanitarian challenges of our time while advancing their understanding and their careers. The program builds on Dickinson’s partnership with the U.S. Army War College to provide students with a uniquely in-depth and useful knowledge base from which to tackle next-generation global issues.

Dickinson is also offering three related, but less time-intensive, certificate programs:

  • Resilience in the Face of Climate Change, Environmental Degradation & Resource Scarcity
  • Human & Social Factors in Disaster Situations
  • Coping With Public Health Emergencies

“Humanmade and natural disasters have become a daily occurrence, and they are often multifaceted, multicausal and rapidly changing,” says Stuart. “Dickinson is especially well positioned to address disasters that are either caused or exacerbated by problems of climate change, environmental degradation and resource depletion, and this type of useful education has never been more necessary.”

Partnership With IIE to Build Intercultural Competency Skills

Dickinson recently partnered with the Institute of International Education to provide much-needed training opportunities that go beyond cultural-awareness education and instead reimagine an international education framework that incorporates global, intercultural and equity inclusion lenses.

“This partnership represents a merging of strengths between two powerhouse organizations with shared missions related to global education, engagement and knowledge exchange,” says President Margee Ensign, for whom developing intercultural competency skills has been a chief priority since joining Dickinson in 2017. “Together, we are poised to build something great and far-reaching.”

According to Samantha Brandauer ’95, associate provost and executive director of Dickinson’s Center for Global Study & Engagement, U.S. higher education and international education have been critiqued for “talking the talk but not walking the walk” when it comes to inclusivity and equity work. “By not addressing larger and more global systemic issues of inequity with local resonance—such as social justice, racism and climate change—institutions reinforce and exacerbate the world’s existing inequities and disparities.”

Dickinson and IIE believe one of the ways to begin to address these challenges is to find the intersection between intercultural and global learning and diversity, equity and inclusion—work that has been traditionally siloed. The partnership between Dickinson and IIE aims to break down silos by bringing practitioners, scholars and learners from across disciplines, backgrounds and cultures together to create new knowledge, best practices and collaborative approaches that grapple with the complexity of building trust and equity across cultures.

“To accomplish the goal of building inclusive and equitable global communities, we need to find a way to fuse diversity, equity and inclusion skills, best practices and pedagogy with intercultural competency and global learning,” says Ensign. “This means opening a space for a different way of thinking about our work, our international partnerships and the role that we play in bringing marginalized voices into the discussion.” 

Read more from the spring 2021 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published May 19, 2021