Importance of Natural Disaster

The Importance of

International Disaster Management Studies

in the Field of Emergency Management

by Damon Coppola, MEM Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management

Traditionally, the myriad courses offered by FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute have focused solely on the study and practice of emergency management as they pertain to municipalities within the United States.   Only a small number of these courses make even a glancing reference to the problem of how disasters are managed elsewhere in the world.   As a result, curricula tend to be limited to the development and practice of the emergency management discipline at the domestic level.   This paper argues that such a bias should be abandoned so that students and practitioners in the United States may benefit from the rest of the world’s experience in emergency and disaster management.   This knowledge is vital for five reasons: 1) The United States’ emergency management system is imperfect, 2) The United States is moving towards a ‘Third World’ system, 3) Climate change equals bigger, stronger, and more numerous disasters, 4) Climate change means global instability, and 5) The expanding discipline demands the inclusion of international disaster management studies.


For the first time in three years, the topic of international disaster management will not be featured on the agenda of the FEMA Emergency Management Institute Higher Education Conference.   It’s absence leaves a major gap in the comprehensive study and understanding of emergency management.   It’s exclusion from the conference (and likewise in most emergency management curricula at university programs throughout the United States) is primarily a product of the deficiency of educators and resources currently focusing on the topic.   Both of these shortfalls, which together contribute to the flawed popular belief that the international experience has little to offer American emergency managers, can and should be...