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DRLA Core Competencies

The MS in Disaster Resilience Leadership provides graduates with competencies in five key areas: Human and Social Factors, Economics, Environment and Infrastructure, Disaster Operations, and Measurement and Evaluation. We extended the focus of many programs, which only typically only address disaster operations.

Human and Social Factors - graduates will be able to:

  • Outline terminology relevant to the field of disaster resilience leadership as it pertains to human and social factors

  • Understand and apply relevant global, national and state policies and legislation in the field of disaster resilience.

  • Discuss critically the ethical considerations in disaster work (social justice, human dignity, anti-oppressive)

  • Describe, explain, and apply human and social theories for disaster resilience leadership (eco-systemic, structural functionalism, social capital, conservation of resources and progression of vulnerability) 

  • Discuss critically the disaster recovery process of the individual exposed to disasters as a life event from a multi-dimensional approach 

  • Evaluate the dynamics within the family/household affected by disasters and disaster recovery

  • Define and outline building disaster-resilient communities

  • Outline and explain the role of the media and social media in disaster resilience leadership

  • Plan intervention programs within the context of the disaster management cycle 

  • Plan disaster-related crisis and stress management programs that promote resilience 

  • Identify the psychosocial needs of specific populations (vulnerable populations, e.g. children, the aged, animal owners, people with disabilities, poorest of the poor, HIV/AIDS, etc.) 

  • Understand and explain disaster research


Economics - graduates will have a robust understanding of:

  • Microeconomic theory of individual decision-making

  • Intertemporal choice

  • The discount rate and the rate of interest

  • Present and future value, present discounted value, net present value

  • Cost/benefit analysis, the internal rate of return, project evaluation,

  • Uncertainty and Knightian uncertainty

  • Relative risk-aversion as an implication of decreasing marginal utility, risk-aversion and risk-spreading as the foundation of private insurance markets

  • Feasible commercial boundaries of private insurance, reinsurance, market failure, reasons for private insurance markets failure in disasters

  • Moral hazard and adverse selection, public insurance programs and problems

  • Fiscal federalism and disaster prevention versus disaster response

  • Public choice theory, the “politician’s dilemma” and political distortions in disaster spending

  • Interpretation of multivariate regression analysis

  • Forecasting, global warming forecasts, and estimates of global warming’s economic impact

  • Economic and political determinants of differential global disaster impact

  • Economic definition of disaster recovery and disaster resilience

  • Global econometric evidence of the determinants of disaster resilience


Environment and Infrastructure - graduates will be able to:

  • Understand and evaluate the risks that natural and technological disasters pose to the human environment

  • Understand and evaluate the ways that land use, resource use, and environmental policy affect the risks posed by natural and technological disasters

  • Understand and assess the ways in which the natural and built environments function as a “public good,” providing a range of “service,” including protection from disaster-based harms for human and non-human populations

  • Understand and evaluate the ways that climate change affects disaster risk and how actors in the public and private sectors are seeking to reduce climate-change-based risks

  • Understand in general terms the history of the environmental movement, the development of modern environmental policy, and the development of modern disaster risk-reduction policy in the United States

  • Understand how social vulnerability (based on factors related to wealth, race, age, sex, disability, education level, etc.) affects a community’s disaster risk in an environmental setting

  • Understand and evaluate ways that actors in the public and private sectors are addressing or might address the special risks posed by social vulnerability 

  • Understand and evaluate the ways that decision makers in the public and private sectors assess disaster risks in environmental settings and how they respond to or manage those risks, paying special attention to precautionary standards, cost-benefit analyses, and environmental impact assessments.

  • Understand and evaluate the tools used in public policy to steer individual or group behavior so as to reduce disaster risk

  • Understand and evaluate the tools used in public policy to spread individually borne disaster risk among other members of society

  • Understand and evaluate public policies and private initiatives geared to helping communities recover from damage to the built and natural environment resulting from disaster 

  • Understand and evaluate many of the issues raised above as they apply in a “place-based” context, with emphasis on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast

  • Understand and evaluate many of the issues raised above as they apply in a global context and in the context of other countries, with emphasis on the distinctive needs of poorer countries

  • Synthesize many of the issues and concerns raised above so as to create a holistic view of disaster policy in the environmental context, from perspectives based in the social sciences, the natural sciences, engineering, law, and other disciplines


Disaster Operations - graduates will have a robust understanding of:

  • Response Theory

  • Social, cultural, political, and historical elements

  • Organizational and practice theories of collaboration and coordination

  • Negotiation and conflict resolution

  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools

  • Supply chain management and humanitarian logistics

  • Legal, political, and ethical issues

  • Protection framework

  • Long term implications and possibilities of disaster response

  • Leadership and management for Disaster Resilience Leadership

  • Major theoretical models of leadership and their application to Disaster Resilience

  • Role of leader characteristics in Disaster Resilience Leadership

  • Discuss role of disaster theories that shape Disaster Resilience Leadership

  • Organizational characteristics that affect decision making in Disaster Resilience Leadership

  • Advocacy


Measurement and Evaluation - graduates will be able to:

  • Apply disaster and resilience measures to program evaluation and humanitarian research efforts and situations

  • Use data measures and tools that enhance disaster resilience knowledge

  • Use structured and unstructured data in disasters and resilience applications

  • Apply data analysis techniques for summarizing, describing, analyzing, and interpreting data relevant to disaster resilience practice and research

  • Demonstrate quantitative data processing techniques relevant to disaster resilience practice and research

  • Use theory and context to provide reasoned application of data sources to programs and research in disaster resilience

  • Use contextually-appropriate methods and techniques for research and evaluation, with consideration for stakeholders, mission, and local priorities

  • Contribute to programs and research through the application of evaluation science

  • Use evaluation science to adapt future programming, improve operations, and influence policy

  • Apply ethical standards when working with diverse stakeholders in data, evaluation, and research contexts