In the Social Impacts of Disaster course at Frederick Community College this fall, students are using the developing news of Hurricane Harvey and impending Irma to apply what they know to what they are studying.Each of us perceives risk based on our own experiences within the limits of human cognition. This week, students will discuss how emergency managers and the media battle for the attention of the public. Mass media and reporters want reader response in the form of engagement that they can measure and sell to advertisers while emergency managers want to ensure that citizens prepare and cooperate with safety plans.

Headlines referring to storm categories and predictions of record-breaking destruction don’t always motivate residents and business owners to take action. An advantage to community college courses is the participation of practitioners and students in one room comparing notes combines real life with research. First responders pursuing academic credentials and young people choosing future careers meet on Thursday evenings to compare to news stories and case studies to develop strategies for the future.

Because the college provides instructors with a companion website for each course, students who are called away during a face-to-face class can keep up while on the road. Next week, the class will hear from one student when he returns from deployment in Texas. Whether you are a practicing professional or curious learner, there is a place for you in Emergency Management. As Professor Lombardo says, no matter what career you seek or enjoy, we all benefit from understanding crisis and community response to emergencies.

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