Battling Disaster and Catastrophe

The emergency management program at North Dakota State has been around since 2003 and provides opportunity for students to apply what they learn in and out of the classroom.

“Emergency management is the scientific study of hazards that exist around us, what makes us prone to suffering impacts from them and how we deal with their consequences when they interact in the form of emergencies, disasters and catastrophes,” Jessica Jensen, associate professor and department head of emergency management, said. Jensen also highlighted how an emergency management major can be used in many different ways and can be applied just about anywhere.

“Because we exist and have students who are studying how all of this works, they represent a labor source that has relevant knowledge, skills and expertise that can be useful,” Jensen said. “As the jurisdiction experienced the 2009 flood, our students managed the volunteer center and worked in the Fargo Emergency Operation Center.”

Graduates of the emergency management program find careers at businesses and non-profits to do humanitarian work in the aftermath of hazardous events. They also see students going to work in local, state and federal governments in emergency management specific jobs to help the jurisdiction of whatever level they are at figure out how the departments will work together to address the problems that are likely to arise when hazardous events occur.

“One thing that is personally important to me and my colleagues in the department, and it’s something that I have come to understand very deeply, is that in the world out there we need people who study this full time, and they are important people who set the framework to address these issues,” Jensen said. “But if we really want to see the hurricane Harvey’s and the Irma’s and the Maria’s impact us differently, ideally less, then we don’t just need more people going out into emergency management specific jobs. We need people studying our minor. We need people who actually do the work related to response, recovery and getting ready to be studying this.”

Jensen considered the study of emergency management to be the key piece to changing how disasters impact us, our country and around the world.

The department packages these minors differently, thinking about the knowledge that exists from research and the majors they relate to. One is the vulnerability and capacity minor option that is all about humans and what they go through in a time of crisis. Another is the risk and resilience management that designs communities and attempts to understand why and how events unfold. There is also a homeland security option that focuses on why we see domestic and international security issues increase around the world.

If you would like to get any further information about the program or how a minor may pertain to your major, you can reach Jessica Jensen at 701-219-4293 or at

Leave a Reply