Jackson State University’s new Disaster Preparedness Certification will help equip next generation of emergency management professionals

JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson State University (JSU) will offer a post-baccalaureate certificate in Disaster Preparedness & Community Resilience Among Vulnerable Populations this fall. The program results from years of multidisciplinary research and collaborative strategic planning between the Department of Psychology and the Department of Civil & Environmental and Industrial Systems & Technology.

The community-oriented curriculum will cover the basics of disaster preparedness, equip students with mitigation and risk communications tools, and effectively measure the social and behavioral implications of natural disasters on a community’s collective mental and emotional wellbeing before, during and after a disaster.

“Natural disasters will occur. However, communities can be equipped with the tools needed to be well prepared and properly notified before weather events, and pending disasters ever occur,” said Dawn Bishop McLin, Ph.D., professor of psychology and co-developer of the program.

The certification is among a series of new fall programs the University has established as part of its academic prominence strategic plan goal, offering high-quality, innovative, distinctive and competitive programming.

Upon completion, students will be able to provide their local communities with the basic knowledge, skills, and motivation to take proactive measures to reduce community vulnerability and ensure the safety of all.

With the program being 100 percent online, the certification becomes accessible to an endless list of candidates, which includes employees of emergency management agencies, law enforcement officers, media professionals, healthcare professionals, educators, and community-based organizations.

McLin shared that a significant component of the program will be the implementation of community resilience, which refers to a community of people proactively addressing threats and effectively adapting to changing conditions and challenges. With the certification, JSU hopes to equip Mississippi’s underserved communities with up-to-date skills for disaster preparedness and minimize the unnecessary casualties and loss of property, and in turn, create fortified communities.

“This concept [community resilience] can be effectively implemented among vulnerable communities by helping to ensure equity, and those communities may consist of predominantly minority, rural communities with limited resources,” said Jessica Murphy, Ph.D., professor of technology and emergency management and program co-developer.

Murphy further explains that to ensure equitable access to information emergency management professionals must begin to intently probe the impacts of natural disasters on an underserved community’s resilience, and recognize that not all vulnerable populations require assistance.

In a world of rapidly changing circumstances, JSU continues to step into the leading role as a source of knowledge and training for future generations of emergency management professionals aiding in the mitigation, preparation, and recovery of the most vulnerable communities.

“JSU will serve as the landscape where the seeds are planted, nurtured, and cultivated in order to harvest the next generation of emergency management and disaster preparedness professionals who are prepared to strengthen vulnerable communities,” said McLin.

For more information about the program, please contact Dawn Bishop McLin, Ph.D., professor of psychology, at dawn.d.mclin@jsums.edu.