The Center for Disaster Management was established in 2009 by Dean John Keeler to advance the field of emergency management through research, analysis, education, and collaboration with scholars and practitioners. It was built on the work done by Dr. Louise Comfort since 1994, focused on building resilience to hazards by understanding the complex interactions between the physical, engineered, and sociotechnical systems in disasters. I was fortunate to be a graduate student researcher for Dr. Comfort in 2009, and am delighted to be returning to GSPIA a decade later to direct the Center.
Over the years, the Center for Disaster Management (CDM) has been a leader in our field, conducting research and analysis on timely policy issues, leading innovative research to better understand risk and dynamic decision-making for emergency managers, and developing methods of building community resilience in complex environments. Research projects have focused on a range of hazards, from flooding on the Allegheny and Monogahela Rivers to hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and earthquakes around the world. CDM has maintained strong relationships with community partners, researchers, and centers focused on disaster management at other universities, including: Nanjing University, China; Center for Disaster Mitigation, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey; and the Research Center for Urban Safety and Security, Kobe University, Japan. These relationships have fostered scholarly exchanges between CDM and the other centers for visiting faculty, students, and researchers, such as our current project to improve tsunami warning and decision-support in Indonesia. CDM has provided opportunities for students to grow in the field of emergency management, including internships and research assistance, CDM's Working Paper Series, a Leadership During Crisis podcast series, and disaster study group for students.
As interim Director of the Center for Disaster Management (CDM), I bring a focus on hazard mitigation and building the resilience of our communities before disasters hit, so that disasters have less of a catastrophic impact on residents in affected areas. Despite our best efforts, disasters are increasing worldwide — there are many reasons for this, including climate change, risky development decisions, and politics and policies that prioritize short-term gains but leave people more vulnerable in the long term. If we are going to reduce disaster losses, we will need to address the root causes of social and technical vulnerabilities within our communities. We also must look to our past to understand the historical context in which we are operating and respect community wisdom to develop the solutions that will reduce future risk. I look forward to building new partnerships between CDM and the other university centers — disaster management is interconnected with many issues, and it's vital that we work together to address our shared risk.
If you are interested in disaster management, please do not hesitate to reach out. If you are a student, consider pursuing a minor in Civil Security and Disaster Management and exploring research opportunities through the Center. For faculty and staff, I hope we can explore partnerships and shared research interests. I look forward to working with you all this year.
Miriam Belblidia, MPA, CFM
Director, Center for Disaster Management