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Teaching Improved Approaches for Better Outcomes for Vulnerable Populations Higher Ed Conference, June 3, 2008 Emily Bentley, J.D., and Deden Rukmana, Ph.D. Homeland Security & Emergency Management Program Savannah State University. Session Concept.

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Teaching Improved Approaches for Better Outcomes for Vulnerable PopulationsHigher Ed Conference,June 3, 2008Emily Bentley, J.D., and Deden Rukmana, Ph.D.Homeland Security & Emergency Management ProgramSavannah State University

session concept
Session Concept
  • Students need the ability to assimilate comprehensive hazard and threat information and translate it into protective measures that effectively reach all segments of a community, particularly the most vulnerable populations.
  • This session will explore approaches to teaching social vulnerability concepts and proposed research work using those concepts, application of geographic information systems, and the experiences of local emergency management practitioners and vulnerable residents to distill key practices, challenges, and areas for improvement.
grant project improving outcomes
Grant Project: Improving Outcomes
  • Research on socially vulnerable portions of Chatham County, Ga., population’s knowledge about hazards and protective measures
  • Incorporate research into tools/model that local governments can use to better serve their social vulnerable populations
  • Incorporate research into homeland security and emergency management curriculum
  • Support for student fellowships and internships
Research & Curriculum Development for Improved Policy and Planning for Vulnerable Populations Savannah State University

Project Objectives

Education: Content development for Social Diversity Issues in HSEM & Risk & Vulnerability Assessment courses; special topics courses as indicated by research

Research: Social vulnerability & disaster public education research in Chatham County, Ga.

Professors and Departments

Emily Bentley, J.D., Homeland Security & Emergency Management

Deden Rukmana, Ph.D., Urban Studies & Planning

Karla Sue Marriott, Ph.D., Chemistry

  • Anticipated Outcomes
  • Info for local officials regarding social vulnerability & disaster public education approaches (GIS format)
  • Methodology for other locations
  • Syllabi/course content to share
  • Increase student interest & enrollment (HSEM degree program & physical & social sciences)
  • Activities and Courses Developed
  • Student internship & fellowship programs
  • Beginning literature review & data gathering for research & course development
social vulnerability
Social Vulnerability
  • Look first at social vulnerability in Chatham County, Ga., mapping demographics that point toward reduced ability to plan for and cope with disasters
  • Combine social vulnerability factors with information about physical vulnerability, including storm surge, flood zones, and proximity to hazardous materials
public awareness education
Public Awareness & Education
  • Examine the hazard and disaster awareness level of residents in socially vulnerable areas of the county.
  • What information do they have about hazards and what they mean to them and their families?
  • What do residents know about protective measures for hazards that might occur?
  • Will coordinate with and provide results to local EMA.
public awareness continued
Public Awareness continued
  • Specifically, do they know how they would evacuate in a hurricane warning?
  • From where/whom do they get information?
  • What is a trusted source for communication about hazards/disasters?
  • What community resources do they rely upon most often?
bachelor s degree program
Bachelor’s Degree Program
  • Savannah State University opened the doors on its Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEM) bachelor’s degree program in August 2007.
  • The SSU Homeland Security and Emergency Management Program (HSEM) is the only bachelor’sdegree program in emergency management or homeland security in the state of Georgia.
comprehensive program
Comprehensive Program

The HSEM program uses an integrated, comprehensive approach, addressing both emergency management and homeland security.

Students gain knowledge and skills to improve communities’ capabilities to prepare for, prevent, mitigate effects of, respond to and recover from all types of disasters, whether natural or human caused.

hsem program highlights
HSEM Program Highlights
  • Curriculum/instruction foci include:
    • All-hazards prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response & recovery
    • Comprehensive risk assessment (natural & human-caused)
    • Emergency operations planning, COOP/COG, & business continuity/resumption
    • HSEM policy & legal issues
    • Effective communication & leadership in a variety of settings & with diverse constituencies
  • New DHS grant is funding research & student support related to improving outcomes for vulnerable populations
how to prepare students
How to Prepare Students?
  • The program is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on physical, social, & political sciences, as well as communications & business.
  • The program offers students a mini-EOC training room (GIS, hazard analysis & tracking software, EOC & resource management software,etc.) so that students have hands-on experience with technologies used in HSEM practice.
degree requirements
Degree Requirements
  • The major requires 125 credit hours to graduate and includes 30 hours in HSEM required courses plus foreign language requirements (2 years); core curriculum and HSEM and general electives make up the remainder of the credit requirements.
  • The program also offers a 15-hour minor in HSEM.
  • For more information, e-mail or call 912.356.2541.
curriculum context for social vulnerability
Curriculum Context for Social Vulnerability
  • In the SSU HSEM curriculum, social vulnerability is addressed in:
    • Broad reference/overview in Intro to HSEM
    • Two class sessions in Risk and Vulnerability Assessment
    • Course specifically focusing on Social Diversity Issues in HSEM
    • (each is a required course for HSEM majors)
social vulnerability1
Social Vulnerability
  • Social vulnerability has been defined in terms of people’s “capacity to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the impacts of a …hazard”.
  • Understanding of social vulnerability provides insight into how to better prepare communities and make them more resilient to hazards.
factors in social vulnerability cutter model
Factors in Social Vulnerability (Cutter model)
  • Personal wealth and poverty
  • Age structure
  • Development of the built environment
  • Single sector economic reliance
  • Housing stock and tenancy
  • Race and gender
  • Ethnic immigrants
  • Native American homelands
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Economic resilience
  • Education
trends related to vulnerability
Trends Related to Vulnerability
  • Population trends
    • Population increase
    • Children & elderly
    • Racial, ethnic & cultural diversity
    • Migration
  • Economic disparity
    • Poverty
    • Access to resources
migration implications for vulnerability
Migration Implications for Vulnerability
  • Changing nature of communities
    • Social and family networks change
    • Shifting resources
  • As people move to new places
    • Often do not have understanding of hazards in new location
      • Past experiences do not necessarily correspond to changed geography
      • Limited knowledge about resources & hazards
about chatham county
About Chatham County
  • On the Atlantic Coast, so susceptible to Atlantic tropical systems/hurricanes
  • Fourth largest container sea/riverport in the nation
  • Significant industrial/chemical facilities along Savannah River
  • Population of 248,469; 17 percent of residents below poverty level
  • Large numbers of tourists to historic Savannah and coast
  • Evacuated 90+ percent of residents in advance of Hurricane Floyd in 1999
  • Strong local emergency management program
poverty and vulnerability
Poverty and Vulnerability
  • Direct link between poverty and vulnerability
  • Affects access to monetary resources in face of disaster
  • Impacts ability to mitigate against hazards
  • Must prioritize everyday needs
applied research
Applied Research
  • Project is about taking social vulnerability research and applying it to help local officials/EMAs better communicate with residents who have the least ability to prepare for or cope with a disaster.
  • How do we do a better job planning for our most vulnerable residents and how do we communicate effectively with them?
  • How do we teach the next generation of emergency managers these skills?
mapping social vulnerability
Mapping Social Vulnerability
  • Our research will look at hazards that are likely in Chatham County along with demographic data that tend to indicate social vulnerability.
  • Where higher hazard probability/likelihood overlap with high social vulnerability, we will explore residents’ understanding of and preparedness for relevant hazards.
economic plus other factors
Economic Plus Other Factors
  • In addition to economic factors, research will also include, to the extent possible, information on disabled individuals, medical equipment dependent, non-English speakers and other areas of special need.
hazard info
Hazard Info
  • Project will utilize mapped hazard data including:
    • hurricane storm surge
    • flood zones
    • hazardous materials
      • fixed site
      • transportation-related
  • Other hazards also will be addressed in survey work with residents (e.g., tornado)
  • We will supervise students in conducting surveys and follow up with residents and community organizations in areas with high social vulnerability.
  • Survey results will be analyzed and reported to help local officials identify gaps in residents’ understanding and possible approaches to better communicate with socially vulnerable populations.
tools model

Throughout the project, we will capture the activities and challenges so that it can result in a model or guidelines for other local governments/EMAs to follow in looking at social vulnerability and related approaches for planning and disaster public education for their most vulnerable constituents.

questions for you
Questions for You
  • How does your program/curriculum address social vulnerability?
  • Are you aware of research or course content that we should make sure we review?
  • What focus does your program/curriculum put on communicating with diverse constituencies?


Emily Bentley, J.D. Deden Rukmana, Ph.D.

912.356.2540 912.356-2982