Education and training are key elements of disaster management. Despite national and international educational programs in disaster management, there is no standardized curriculum available to guide the European Union (EU) member states. European- based Disaster Training Curriculum (DITAC), a multiple university-based project financially supported by the EU, is charged with developing a holistic and highly-structured curriculum and courses for responders and crisis managers at a strategic and tactical level. The purpose of this study is to qualitatively assess the prevailing preferences and characteristics of disaster management educational and training initiatives (ETIs) at a postgraduate level that currently exist in the EU countries.
An Internet-based qualitative search was conducted in 2012 to identify and analyze the current training programs in disaster management. The course characteristics were evaluated for curriculum, teaching methods, modality of delivery, target groups, and funding.
The literature search identified 140 ETIs, the majority (78%) located in United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Master level degrees were the primary certificates granted to graduates. Face-to-face education was the most common teaching method (84%). Approximately 80% of the training initiatives offered multi- and cross-disciplinary disaster management content. A competency-based approach to curriculum content was present in 61% of the programs. Emergency responders at the tactical level were the main target group. Almost all programs were self-funded.
Although ETIs currently exist, they are not broadly available in all 27 EU countries. Also, the curricula do not cover all key elements of disaster management in a standardized and competency-based structure. This study has identified the need to develop a standardized competency-based educational and training program for all European countries that will ensure the practice and policies that meet both the standards of care and the broader expectations for professionalization of the disaster and crisis workforce.
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