Emergency management and homeland security curricula: contexts, cultures, and constraints

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Thomas E. Drabek

John Evans Professor, Emeritus

Department of Sociology and Criminology

University of Denver

Denver, Colorado 80208-2948


*A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Western Social Science Association, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, April, 2007. I wish to thank Ruth Ann Drabek for her work on this paper. Partial support was received from the University of Denver through the John Evans Professorship Program and the Higher Education Project, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Denver or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.



During the past three decades, emergency management has become more professionalized. An important part of this transformation has been the explosive growth in higher education programs designed to provide the fundamental knowledge and skills required of emergency managers. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, curricula reflecting homeland security issues and competencies have been established. Some have proposed that these programs should be better integrated. Following a brief summary of the historical context in which these developments occurred, key points of culture clash are identified. It is concluded that future faculty and administrative initiatives will be constrained by these cultural differences and deflected by future governmental policies, disaster events, and other external factors.

When disaster strikes, most people think immediately of first responders—police, fire, emergency medical, and the like. And they should! These are the people who we depend on to confront the consequences of disaster, at least initially. But behind the scenes, away from the tornado path or the flooded homes, sits another important responder whose primary mission is to facilitate coordination among the hundreds of on-scene personnel who represent dozens of agencies. This person, and their staff, perform the emergency management function during the full life cycle of any disaster, i.e., response, recovery, mitigation and preparedness. The multiorganizational networks they seek to coordinate are comprised of personnel and resources from local, state and federal government organizations and from the private sector (Drabek 2006b).

During the past three decades, emergency management has become more professionalized (e.g., Petak 1984; Drabek 1987, 2003; Kuban 1993; Wilson and Oyola-Yamaiel 2000, 2005). An important part of this transformation has been the explosive growth in higher education programs designed to provide the fundamental knowledge and skills required of emergency managers (Blanchard 2006). Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, curricula reflecting homeland security issues and competencies have been established. Some have proposed that these program areas should be better integrated. Indeed, some faculty and administrators decided to simply adopt both terms for program identification as if there was no difference in content, culture, or perspective. This essay explores these matters through the examination of three themes: 1) historical context; 2) curricula and cultural differences; and 3) alternative integrative strategies. The analysis points toward the conclusion that future faculty and administrative initiatives for increased integration among emergency management and homeland security curricula will be constrained by important cultural differences, future governmental policies, disaster events, and other external factors.

Historical Context

Human response to disaster, both initial impacts and longer term consequences, was ignored by most social scientists during the formative years of their disciplines. A notable exception was Sorokin’s (1942) treatise wherein he theorized about the human impacts and responses to a wide variety of socially disruptive events. Earlier, and more exacting and focused, however, was the seminal documentation of responses to the Halifax harbor explosion by Prince (1920). Using this tragedy (December 6, 1917) as a case study, Prince formulated a series of generalizations whereby future scholars might transcend the details of this single case, e.g., Scanlon 1997; Scanlon and Handmer 2001. Three decades later, field teams from the University of Chicago interviewed hundreds of disaster victims and completed the first comparative studies whereby modal patterns of response were identified (e.g., Fritz 1961; Fritz and Marks 1954). Often, especially regarding panic behavior, immobility, and anti-social acts such as looting, the documented patterns were not consistent with the public image (Quarantelli and Dynes 1972; Dynes, Quarantelli and Kreps 1972). And paralleling these research findings were those of social geographers like White (1945), who unraveled the decision dynamics related to users of flood prone areas (see also Hinshaw 2006). Collectively, these empirical studies provided the intellectual foundation on which a new profession could be built.

Apart from the theoretical and empirical research base that was driven primarily by scholars working within frameworks developed within sociology and social geography, government employees were guided by two evolving policy streams that reflected legislative responses to both war and a wide variety of so-called “natural” disasters, including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and the like (Drabek 1991). Hence, “civil defense” offices were funded for state governments and some local communities to prepare for potential enemy attacks. But when natural or technological agents caused havoc within communities, local officials confronted over 150 different federal units that had specialized interests, programs, and resource priorities. One of the legacies of President Jimmy Carter was the reorganization of this “bureaucratic buffet” into a single unified bureau he named the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Upon its creation in July, 1979, the new federal bureau confronted the predictable reorganization growing pains reflective of the cultures learned by its agency personnel. Under President Reagan the controversies regarding FEMA most often focused on war related initiatives like the ill-fated “crisis relocation program” (May and Williams 1986). Local governments repainted office doors with varying names ranging from civil defense to emergency preparedness to emergency management or various combinations of these and related terms.

During the 1990’s, the agency that too often was easy fodder for late night comics, was turned around. President Clinton’s experiences as governor helped him realize the defects in the local-state-federal partnerships that had failed President Herbert Walker Bush during the response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Clinton appointed his former state emergency manager from Arkansas—Mr. James Lee Witt—as the FEMA director. Witt’s leadership, buttressed by continual and consistent support from Clinton and key professionals like the late Lacy Suiter who had directed the program in Tennessee, transformed the agency and headed the nation toward an alternative philosophy of hazard and disaster management. No longer were floods to be viewed as enemies best dealt with by the construction of more dams; rather a philosophy of environmental sustainability became the assumption base. New federal policies, reflecting the full life cycle of disaster, provided local and state officials with new tools and higher levels of legitimacy than ever had been accorded most of those wearing civil defense clothes (McEntire 2006; 2007, pp. 86-104)). Collectively, more and more local government employees whose agency missions were changing joined their national professional organization whose leadership renamed the unit to become the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) (former name was National Coordinating Council on Emergency Management) (e.g., see Drabek 1991; Haddow and Bullock 2003).

A few faculty, mostly in sociology and geography, designed courses to introduce students to the burgeoning research literature. Graduate students worked within an expanding set of institutes and centers. Most notable among these was the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware, which had been relocated from The Ohio State University in 1985, and the University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Research and Application Information Center. Graduates of these and other social science departments founded additional research and teaching programs at numerous other universities throughout the U.S.A.

In 1996, I joined several other researchers at a workshop sponsored by the Emergency Management Institute at FEMA’s National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Dr. Wayne Blanchard, director of a new initiative—The Higher Education Program—summarized his research on university curricula. At that time only two formal degree programs existed in emergency management—University of North Texas and Thomas Edison College (Neal 2000). It was decided that FEMA should host an annual conference for all college and university faculty teaching courses related to emergency management. Recognizing the professional needs of practitioners and opportunities for curricular expansions into an important new substantive area, faculty and administrators quickly responded with course and program proposals (see Drabek 2006d). Under Blanchard’s watchful eye, a dozen or so faculty produced a series of instructor guides to facilitate course proposals and preparation. These have been posted on the FEMA Higher Education Project website and may be downloaded free of cost (http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/edu).

By June, 2006, over 100 formal programs in emergency management were being offered throughout the nation’s colleges and universities. And about another 100 were in the process of being created (Blanchard 2006).

While terrorism was a topic within these “all-hazard” programs, the attacks of September 11, 2001, changed the priorities of many. As numerous groups critiqued both the response and the intelligence failures that permitted these attacks to occur, many within higher education questioned the adequacy of existing curricula including the newly formed emergency management programs. Building on the testimony, observations, and the final report of the 9-11 Commission (2004), some quickly produced new course and program proposals. By the June, 2006, conference, over 60 programs in “Homeland Security/Defense” were identified. Indeed, for the first time, what had been an emergency management conference was co-sponsored (Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security and the NORTHCOM Homeland Security/Defense Education Consortium). It was in this setting that many faculty were first exposed to the cultural clashes that reflected important differences in perspective. These differences are not limited to alternative course titles, rather they reflect very real contrasts in perceptions of risk and vulnerability and approaches to solution. Thus, the definition of “the problem” differs as does the priority among strategies for addressing it.

Curricula and Cultural Differences

Prior to the June, 2006, FEMA conference, I was invited to serve as a panelist for a session focused on issues of potential integration among homeland security and emergency management programs. In preparation for this assignment, I reviewed numerous program outlines for both types of curricula. My review identified five important contrasts which were amplified by faculty I listened to throughout the conference.

1. Disaster agent. As would be expected, within homeland security programs, terrorism is identified as the major risk currently confronting the U.S.A. One faculty member, echoing lines I had read previously in White House position statements (e.g., Bush 2006), emphasized “we are at war.” He went on to stress his view that increased awareness of the scope, intensity, and commitment of our enemies must be a major program goal. Risk perceptions of Americans must be changed because most are unaware of our vulnerability and unprepared to respond. While emergency management faculty, reflecting an all-hazards perspective, might agree with that last sentence in principle, they would focus on building support for flood mitigation measures and better hurricane evacuation procedures. So at the outset, the very definition of “the problem” is a sharp contrast.

2. Management paradigm. Again reflecting documents flowing from the White House, most homeland security faculty reflected a top-down approach to management. I encountered this in the White House analysis of the failed Katrina response.

“A useful model for our approach to homeland security is the Nation’s approach to national security. . . . operationally organized, it stresses the importance of unity of command from the President down to the commander in the field.” (White House 2006, pp. 66-67).
“Our model for the command and control structure for the Federal response in the new National Preparedness System is our successful defense and national security statutory framework. In that framework, there is a clear line of authority that stretches from the President, through the Secretary of Defense, to the Combatant Commander in the field. . . . Although the Combatant Commander might not ‘own’ or control forces on a day-to-day basis, during a military operation he controls all military forces in his theater; he exercises the command authority and has access to resources needed to affect outcomes on the ground.” (White House 2006, p. 71).
In direct contrast, emergency management faculty have been teaching an alternative model, one that emphasizes cooperation, not command; coordination, not control. A “bottoms-up” perspective is evident within the curricula of emergency management programs (Drabek 2004, 2006d; McEntire 2007) and reflects the research based critiques of command and control management models (e.g., Dynes 1994; Neal and Phillips 1995).

3. Scope of event. Disasters come in a wide variety. Indeed, many wise researchers have suggested that much attention must be given to a fundamental question, i.e., What is a disaster? (Quarantelli 1998, Perry and Quarantelli 2005, Perry 2006, Quarantelli et al. 2006). In part at least, the issue has to do with establishing appropriate limits of generalization of research findings (for elaboration, see Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences 2006, pp. 144-146). Do the responses to a small tornado in Topeka, Kansas, inform our predictions regarding those that might be forthcoming following an airplane crash in the same locale? How might the response pattern differ if the crash was into an office building following a hijacking by a band of terrorists? And would there be even more differences if the hijackers had been successful in smuggling a nuclear device onboard? If detonated in the crash, the potential disaster scene escalates immediately from a single plane and office building to an entire city. It is such “what if’s” that Clark (2006) urges disaster officials to build into their training and planning activities so as to stimulate the imagination. And by doing so, he recommends more focus on “the possible” rather than the current blinders reflecting focus on “the probable.”

Homeland security faculty are advised to study the wisdom within Clark’s analysis so as to go beyond their limited projections of terrorists’ plots. But by a near singular focus on “the enemy,” these faculty fail to benefit from the insights of a much larger picture. In a framework I will outline below, I will suggest potentials for greater integration with emergency management. We learned long ago that a primary focus on planning for “the big one”—in those days nuclear attack from the Soviet Union—was a barrier to both public credibility and effective use of community resources during times of disaster. That lesson should not be forgotten. Furthermore, the failed Katrina response must not be used to narrow our focus to “catastrophic” events to the neglect of the hundreds of disasters that probably will occur before another event of that scope.

4. Intergovernmental system. All disasters are local. At least, the first response to any type of major event will reflect local resources. Emergency management programs emphasize the horizontal pattern of relationships that must be nurtured if the emergent response network is to be effective (Drabek 2006, 2003; McEntire 2007). And procedures to rapidly access state and federal resources are among the core knowledge that any emergency manager must know thoroughly. Homeland security faculty, however, emphasize “the crime scene” nature of the disaster setting and the important roles played by law enforcement agencies. Intelligence gathering designed to thwart potential enemy attacks and the quick capture of those who might be successful in implementing their plot becomes a top priority. While local officials are recognized, the role of the federal bureaus rises to the top of the homeland security agenda. Students are thereby socialized into a culture that differs significantly from the world of emergency management as it is practiced within most local communities.

5. Content. In 2005 a group of experts was convened by a committee within the National Academy of Sciences to examine proposals regarding undergraduate degrees in homeland security. What would comprise the content? Many topics were discussed, some of which reflect courses currently being offered at various universities and colleges. Topics like these are listed in different program statements: “Port Security,” “Aviation Security,” “Asymmetric Threats and Terrorism,” “Civil-Military Relations,” “The Intelligence Community and the Intelligence Process,” “Principles of Criminal Investigation,” “Legal and Constitutional Issues in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness,” “Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Threats,” “Energy and Transportation Security.” Obviously this is just a sampling, but the NAS experts were concerned. Their conclusion? “Not a single workshop participant, or any of the committee members, voiced support for an undergraduate degree program focused specifically on homeland security. As an area of study, it was deemed too immature and too broad.” Such matters seemed best pursued at the graduate level. (Committee on Educational Paradigms for Homeland Security 2005, p. 19).

Regardless of one’s position on the issue of university degrees, the contrast in substantive content to that offered within undergraduate emergency management programs is informative. Beyond the “introduction to” classes, typical course topics are: “Hazard Mitigation Theory and Practice,” “Disaster Response and Recovery,” “Leadership and Organizational Behavior,” “Hazardous Materials,” “Private Sector Issues,” “Computers in Emergency Management,” “Building Disaster Resilient Communities,” “Voluntary Agency Disaster Services,” “Crisis Communications” and “Community Disaster Preparedness.”

As with Homeland Security, the multidisciplinary nature of emergency management has resulted in program placement issues. The first undergraduate degree program was founded at the University of North Texas and is administered within the Department of Public Administration which identified an “Emergency Administration and Planning Program.” In contrast, the first Ph.D. program in emergency management was created at North Dakota State University and is housed within the “Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Emergency Management.”

Others have evolved with much greater specificity. For example, graduate degrees and certificates may be earned at George Mason University’s National Center for Biodefense. Among the courses offered are these: “Threat Analysis I: Bacterial Agents”; “Threat Analysis II: Viral Agents”; “Threat Analysis IV: Toxins”; “Epidemiology of a Bioterror Attack”; “Approaches to Bioweapon Medical Treatment and Response” and “Into the Hot Zone: Working in a High Threat Environment.”

After reviewing dozens of program outline statements that have been prepared by emergency management and homeland security faculty, I was reminded of C.P. Snow’s (1959) classic statement on the difficulties of bridging “the two cultures.” Of course, the orientations of the so-called “hard scientists” differ greatly from those reflecting the disciplines that comprise the humanities or the social sciences. But as Snow argued, one is not “better” than the other, rather bridges must be built so that the understanding of the human condition can better be informed by the wisdom inherent in each.

Alternative Integrative Strategies

Mindful of Snow’s (1959) classic two culture juxtaposition—the sciences versus the humanities—I began to wonder how some level of integration might be achieved. That is not to say that content differences should be put aside or ignored. As I listed various issues and concerns, three major strategies became clear: 1) expansion of emergency management curricula; 2) expansion of homeland security curricula; and 3) complimentary expansions.

Too many faculty I have discussed these issues with, like their counterparts in the practitioner communities, view these matters much too narrowly. Hence, I proposed that the first step toward improved integration requires that the diameter of the straw be increased. So starting with the emergency management side, I suggest that the all-hazards paradigm be retained. Preparedness for, response to, recovery from, and mitigation of all disaster events, and potential disasters, should define the outer parameters of this emerging profession. This means that local communities must be encouraged to complete vulnerability analyses and then take appropriate actions. So too must state governments and those responsible for federal agencies. For emergency management types, especially those working within local governments, this means that an expansion of vision must occur so that terrorism and other forms of “willful” disaster is included. Challenges resulting from catastrophic events, like Hurricane Katrina, must be included within the agency domain and priority structure. So too must those resulting from willful acts of terrorists be they “homegrown” or of foreign origin. Beyond all of these agents, local preparedness actions also must address issues flowing from potential pandemics, e.g., the 1918 flu (Barry 2004). Consequently, portions of the content that comprises homeland security may be absorbed into emergency management programs.

Conversely, and probably with greater difficulty, the diameter of the “straw” that constrains the vision of faculty teaching within homeland security programs may also benefit from expansion. Most important along these lines are some fundamental questions that students should be encouraged to address. My sense is that they rarely are. For example, what do we mean by “security”? How is “security” best attained? What are the limits to “security” attained by more locks on doors or inspections of airline passengers? How many millions of shoes must be removed before we can feel “secure”? Hence, homeland security faculty must challenge students to expand their vision and approach by carefully integrating the perspectives proposed by analysts like Hart (2006), who argue effectively that America will never be secure until “. . . we undertake to address the multiple sources of insecurity.” (p. 176).

To state the error resulting from an overly narrow vision, Hart put the matter most clearly. “As we did during the Cold War, even now during the war on terrorism we are in danger of defining our security too narrowly as simply a military shield, and therefore we may also be in danger of selling ourselves and our nation short.” (p. 176).

So rather than prophesying risk perceptions of fear, homeland security faculty must push students toward an expanded vision that includes the wisdom of seasoned and effective local emergency managers and a recognition that the promotion of fear is a wrong headed policy. Rather, as any county commissioner or city manager knows in his or her gut, both homeland security and emergency management budgets must be juxtaposed against all of the other needs of a community that collectively promote citizen well-being and security. Hart expressed the required expansion of “the straw” very well when he stated the following.

“America will not be truly secure, or free from fear, until we undertake to address the multiple sources of insecurity. . . . If freedom is the product of security, then we must create a new understanding of security in the twenty-first century much as Franklin Roosevelt did in the twentieth century. Our new four freedoms should be freedom of the commons, freedom of the livelihood, freedom of a sound environment, and freedom from fear.” (Hart 2006, p. 176).
From this vantage point, emergency management perspectives are subsumed within homeland security. But it is an image of homeland security far different than those found currently. The concept is expanded and pushed in several different directions. Management styles are no longer limited to top-down directives, risk communication is not limited to fear mongering, and mitigation is not focused on locking up bad guys. A world view of pluralism and respect for other cultures and customs defines the initial premise set, not simplistic notions of “democracy of all” or “eradication of evil”. And the marketing of fear is exposed as a process used by a variety of activists of differing political persuasions with very different agenda. Thus, the insights of analysts like Furedi (2006) help expand the concept of homeland security. “The fear market thrives in an environment where society has internalized the belief that since people are too powerless to cope with the risks they face, it is continually confronted with the problem of survival. This mood of powerlessness has encouraged a market where different fears compete with one another in order to capture the public imagination.” (Furedi 2006, p. 519).

Finally, some faculty might be best guided by an alternative image. In contrast to the “expanding the diameter of the straw” positions advocated above, others might best adopt a more complex image. Rather than a straw, why not a kaleidoscope? I am indebted to a wise emergency manager—J.R. Thomas—for this idea, one he shared with me during the June conference referenced above (Thomas 2006).

From this perspective, the future emergency manager or homeland security officer is encouraged to become skilled at shifting focus. An integrated whole is thereby achieved by addressing the interfaces and complexities that define these two approaches to community safety. Hence, refusing to remain overwhelmed by the scope and complexity of the issues, managers are encouraged to temporarily focus on a single sector of issues. Having addressed these, they can then pull back and see how this pattern of activities is related to other sectors that can then be addressed. In doing so they can better see how each part interfaces with the others. And so, with the image of a kaleidoscope as their model, they can better design and implement an integrated program that will advance the emerging profession of emergency management, including the issues and concerns that define homeland security. And equally important, they can better conceptualize their relationships with other professionals, be they medical, fire service, law enforcement, social services, or what have you. In short, they can better conceptualize the pathways flowing from and toward specific academic disciplines on whose research they must depend for the scientific knowledge in which the profession must remain grounded.

A version of this “kaleidoscope” perspective was reflected in a presentation at the annual meeting of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network (Montreal, October, 2006). A seasoned local emergency manager—Alain Normand—currently serves as the President of the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers and directs the program for the city of Brampton. After describing his efforts to integrate security issues and preparedness for a possible pandemic, he displayed a series of power points that resembled the changing images one sees upon looking into a kaleidoscope (Normand 2006). Hence, the components of emergency management can be focused and refocused reflecting a temporary priority or program emphasis. But the collective whole can thereby be viewed albeit in rather fractured parts. For many, the blurred vision caused by cultural differences precludes this imagery of integration.

This third perspective appears to be consistent with the conclusions reached by Waugh (2006) who was studying terrorism long before the events of 9/11. The longevity of his research focus brings an uncommon wisdom, a depth of insight from which many can learn.

“The next terrorist disaster could take many forms—from a dam collapse to a biological attack to a nuclear attack. The attackers may be al-Qaeda operatives or American militia members or they may be from any number of other international or domestic extremist groups. . . . The point is simply that the range of possibilities is so great that a broad approach is necessary to ensure that law enforcement, military, and emergency response personnel have a range of capabilities, therefore a more generic ‘all-hazards’ program would be more adaptable to circumstances than a terrorism-focused program (Waugh 1984, 2005).” (Waugh 2006, p. 401).


I first voiced some of these ideas while a panel member at a conference sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in June, 2006 (Drabek 2006c). I began by stressing my personal commitment to the values reflected in the Constitution of the United States of America and my belief that it is the responsibility of all citizens to be critical of government policies that they believe are wrong headed. I also noted my concerns about the erosion of civil liberties through technologies implemented and policies adopted during the past decade. I then suggested that we ought to put discussion of the potential integrations of emergency management and homeland security curricula into the broader contexts of social problems perspectives and major societal and global social processes.

As I recall it, I then said something like: “So to broaden our discussion—expand the diameter of our respective straws, a theme I will elaborate on momentarily—let’s consider the wisdom contained in two recently published books.”

I then noted Jared Diamond’s (2005) insightful analysis of the geographic, social and economic patterns in societal collapse. “Think about the curricular implications of his conclusion.”

“When people are desperate, undernourished, and without hope, they blame their governments, which they see as responsible for or unable to solve their problems. They try to emigrate at any cost. They fight each other over land. They kill each other. They start civil wars. They figure they have nothing to lose, so they become terrorists, or they support or tolerate terrorism.” (Diamond 2006, p. 516).
I then quoted from John Barry’s (2004) brilliant social history of the 1918 flu pandemic. “Epidemiologists today estimate that influenza likely caused at least fifty million deaths worldwide and possibly as many as one hundred million.” (p. 4). “Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the middle ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years.” (p. 5).

At this point two or three participants walked out of the room! As I spotted another about to exit toward the back door, I asked him to stay for the discussion that would begin shortly. “You obviously don’t agree with my views, but all of us need to hear your objections and suggestions.” His response was brief, firm, and trailed off as he exited. “No! I’ve heard enough. It’s this kind of academic BS that really hurts the morale of the troops.” Later, I engaged this person in further discussion during a coffee break in a hallway. He elaborated. “Our guys in the Middle East are doing their best against an enemy that is determined to bring us down. We need a focus on specific tactics and strategies to improve command and control during disaster responses, not all this stuff you’re talking about that just muddies up everyone’s thinking.” I mention this here, because it illustrates my first conclusion.

1. Different cultural views of “the problem” and will preclude a simple integration of existing, or future, emergency management and homeland security curricula. This conclusion is illustrated by the example just given. But it also reflects the cultural variations I detailed above regarding everything from the intergovernmental system, management styles, and preparedness priorities.

2. Within all democratic societies, universities and other institutions of higher learning, have performed many functions, including the stimulation of political and social criticism. Many have emphasized the absolute requirement for all systems that are to survive—families, organizations, and societies—that critical examination is a must. Furthermore, those who dissent must be protected. Such protection is the most fundamental requisite of system self-renewal (Gardner 1965). Hence, within emergency management and homeland security programs, students must be encouraged to critically examine current doctrine, no matter its source. It is not enough to just “know” the book. The capacity for critical analysis must be developed, encouraged, and protected. Indeed, it must be required of all participants, students and faculty. Reflecting remarks I made at a recent symposium (Drabek 2006a), I offer this judgment. This lack of capacity for policy criticism is the most important shortcoming in existing emergency management and homeland security courses. Given their recent creation, such a shortcoming is understandable. But it must be corrected.

3. Curricular developments and programs in emergency management and homeland security should be promoted and stimulated by various governmental bureaus, but they must not dictate. These include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and additional agencies ranging from the Department of Defense (DOD), the US Geological Survey (USGS), National Science Foundation (NSF) and others. As faculty implement a wide variety of courses, programs, and credentials of various types, including specialized certificates and formal degrees, all governmental bureaus should maintain a clear boundary. Their role is to nurture, not to prescribe. As with curricular innovations of the past, the pathways will be many and marked with both successes and failures. But the independence and autonomy of the universities, and those working within all settings of higher learning, must be maintained. Decisions regarding curricular content and assessments of academic excellence must come from within these institutions and accreditation procedures and bodies they construct. As the professions of emergency management and homeland security continue to evolve, they must become more active participants in the standard setting process.

4. Future disaster events, including those reflective of natural, technological, and conflict agents, will deflect the long-term developmental pattern of such curricular innovation. This is to be expected. All professions evolve within specific historical contexts and reflect the ebb and flow of the knowledge building process. Barry’s (2004) social history of medical schools and curricular reform is most instructive in this regard. As opportunities for new research become available, in part because of new disaster events, some of which can not be imagined by most faculty today, program priorities and content will change. This is as it should be; it is not a sign of failure or poor quality. Rather it reflects desired growth. And disagreements regarding program and course change, elimination, or initiation, should be anticipated and welcomed. Such is the process of curricula development and societal change. Only the pace or degree of change is up for grabs. And given the turbulence and uncertainties, both within and among, all nation states probably will confront during the next several decades, it is very likely that the pace of change will be quite high. Welcome to the “new normal.”

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