RI Courses


History and Theory of Emergency Planning

This course provides a broad introduction to the historical and theoretical perspectives of emergency management policies and practices. Students will learn how theories are used to inform the practice of disaster and emergency management. Fundamental principles of risk, vulnerability, and emergency planning are examined relative to natural, technologic, and health-related hazards, from an interdisciplinary perspective. Federal, state, and municipal legislation and regulations will be examined for their implications on mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Students will understand the roles and professional responsibilities of emergency managers in preparing and implementing all-hazards plans and policies.

Hazards Mitigation Planning

The course will develop a framework to critically examine and mitigate biological, geophysical, and hydro-meteorological hazards. A review of the causes and consequences of earthquake, landslides, floods, storms, droughts, disease, and natural hazards will highlight the complex interaction between dynamic processes and life support systems. For each general type of natural hazards we will discuss methods for structural (e.g., retaining wall systems) and non-structural (e.g., critical areas zoning) mitigation. Case studies will involve current international, federal, state and local hazard mitigation policies, plans, and programs.

Disaster Risk Reduction

This course introduces students to the assessment of disasters, focusing primarily on the social aspects of disasters. The course deals with the question ‘What causes a disaster?’ and looks at what, and most importantly, who is impacted during a disaster. The course enumerates a framework that facilitates reducing disaster risk and mitigating the impacts if one occurs. The course focuses primarily on natural disasters, though concepts and methods are generally appropriate for technological and terrorism disasters. The course takes a global perspective on disasters.

Disaster Reduction and Emergency Planning Studio

The course provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in disaster reduction and emergency planning, with an emphasis on community-based approaches. Students will work in groups with a client (or clients) on a quarter-long project of practical significance. Students will be exposed to best practices through case studies across disaster reduction and emergency planning. Project management, client interactions, report writing, and communicating technical information to diverse audiences will be emphasized.

Understanding and Communicating Risk

This course looks at understanding and communicating basic concepts of risk, relative risks, and risk assessment. Using a case study approach, topics include issues of varying scales – from global climatic change to Huxley’s move to the waterfront. The course discusses challenges in defining risk, determining acceptable risk, perceiving risk, and even worrying about risk. – and the role of the media in all. The course also offers critical perspectives on assessing risk – from scientific and journalistic perspectives.