Understanding the Sociology of Disaster with Homeland Security Education

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When hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural or man-made disasters strike, well-trained members of the public sector, the private sector and nonprofit organizations jump in to keep the peace, and often save lives.

Can you see yourself wanting to help out during a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting? Are you wondering if you have what it takes to help pick up the pieces from such devastation? Read on to see if Saint Joseph’s University's Master's in Criminal Justice with a Homeland Security track is the path to a career that will challenge and reward you.

A track in Homeland Security prepares you to respond effectively to threats against our nation, our citizens, and our resources from terrorism and natural catastrophic events. Here, we're going to focus specifically on disaster relief, which is examined at length in our course CRJ 645 Sociology of Disasters.

The Sociology of Disasters

Sociologists define natural disasters as specific events that bring about hazards that threaten individuals or communities, either during the event or throughout the aftermath. Managing disasters involves minimizing confusion and uncertainty among the affected population, and maximizing public safety. This is where criminal justice experts come in. Your training will allow you to assist in the following ways:

  • Help communities prepare for natural disasters that can be anticipated or foreseen
  • Lead the response efforts to emergency scenarios that emerge during disasters
  • Keep order in communities and respond to emergencies during the recovery process

The natural emergencies you respond to, or lead, could be as minor as a tropical storm or as devastating as a category six tornado. The impact a natural occurrence has on the affected population is determined based on the length of forewarning, the magnitude of the impact (the strength of the natural forces that caused the disaster), the scope of the impact (the number of people affected), and the duration of the impact.

Then there are the catastrophic man-made disasters that make headlines almost every day. From keeping the peace during a protest to the aftermath of a crime spree or terrorist attack, communities rely on response teams to mitigate the damage and to re-establish a sense of normalcy - despite grave emotional turmoil.

Your Role

Depending on your preferences and the type of disasters you respond to, you could have anything from a 9-to-5 desk job, to a rescue position right in the middle of the action, which may require long hours and extensive travel.

Your educational training will give you specialized insight on the following:

  • Sociology of disasters (both manmade and natural)
  • Risk management
  • Behavior analysis

More than 20 federal agencies, many state and local departments, private businesses, and nonprofits help respond to natural disasters. Potential job opportunities include firefighting, medical response, law enforcement and municipal planning. Individuals with prior military service or who have other practical experience in public safety often find that a Master's degree with a Homeland Security track helps them stand out among other applicants trying to secure employment with the agencies and businesses that respond to natural disasters.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the Sociology of Disasters. Give us a ring at (610) 660-3400 or request more information below.


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