Over the course of the last ten years, academic institutions around the world have responded in various ways to the training and education needs of this increasingly complex profession. Rob Fagan describes how Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC), a global leader in innovation, leadership and resilience, offers a solution.
The world isn’t getting any safer and the field of emergency management – as well as all that it encompasses – is growing. PPCC has introduced its Emergency Services Administration Program to try to address this issue.
Loosely housed in the fields of liberal arts, science or public health, emergency management doesn’t always have a good academic home and sometimes the Oxfords, Harvards or Sorbonnes of the world are not the most innovative in this field, owing to their size, clientele and traditional areas of study. Academic innovation and leadership, more often than not, are found in leaner, more agile programmes that are willing to take on more risk in the name of truly professionalising their students. Such is the case with the college’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Service Administration (PPCC BAS ESA).
Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado in the United States, the course was specifically developed to provide a local, global, and affordable option to earn a bachelor’s degree. The new and exciting programme provides existing emergency management personnel a solution for advancement and it meets a growing need for preparing the next generation of leaders for emergency service administration. Because the College is serious about creating conditions for success, the two-year programme is designed to be accomplished conveniently and completely online.
PPCC knows that its students are non-traditional; they usually work full-time, and often on shifts. They are in-state, out-of-state, global, military, US and international. The College counts it a privilege to serve all with diverse academic needs. Its philosophy in emergency services is that since we are a team in the field, so we are a team in class. Its instructors make themselves available to serve and support, making the online learning experience very relational.
The course is designed intentionally to be experiential and product-driven. Students are making an impact in the community by being able to use the products in their respective fields, while building on their abilities to create crisis emergency and risk communications plans, public information officer plans etc. Students will also spend significant time learning and applying thinking skills to include, particularly, systems thinking within extensive scenarios-based instruction. Students will explore, examine, and provide innovative solutions for critical issues confronting emergency services today and in the future, such as resilience in responders and community members.
Perhaps one of the most innovative aspects of the programme is that students are provided mapping software that they use, along with systems thinking, to identify a system’s elements, their interconnectedness, the purpose or function of the system, and the impacts of any change (behaviour) to a system. This skill in understanding and analysis is essential for solving problems and improving the way we do emergency management. Per design, students graduate with a meaningful and applicable portfolio revealing both what they know and what they can do.
Students come to the leadership course one way, but they leave changed. And the best part is that they take with them a plan that they can lean on daily and in times of crisis. They think of it as their ‘emergency management armour’. The leadership instruction goes hand in hand with instruction on resilience, both of which take place throughout the programme. Resilience is relational to the pivotal point at which practitioners quit or break; PPCC doesn’t want either for any of its graduates. In knowing that emergency management is a life and death and often traumatic environment, the College engages in tough course work on resilience to include early intervention, trigger indicators and management, vulnerability, transparency and a lot more - especially a leader’s responsibility within this milieu. The degree places graduates in a strong, competitive position for gaining employment in the national, state, local, private, humanitarian, and non-profit workplace for emergency management and services.
For more details about PPCC and its degree courses, see here
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