Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Maps & Directions

Courses

Get an overview of our four certificate programs in our brochure.

Graduate Certificate Required Courses

CRSCAD 501: Social Vulnerability Approach to Disasters
3 Credits
This course brings disaster social science to the next generation through the lens of vulnerable populations to help build a science-based and human rights approach to risk reduction. While many approaches to social vulnerability exist, we will take a sociological approach that sees social vulnerabilities as social productions which may be reflected, reinforced and contested in disasters, and can be reduced through disaster management. Readings and discussion, primarily but not exclusively focused on the United States and similar societies, introduce students to the growing body of literature on factors shaping social vulnerability to hazards and disasters, and hence to disaster resilience.

CRSCAD 502: Climate Change, Global Food and Water Resources
3 Credits
This course will examine the causes and consequences of climate change with a special focus on food and water resources. It will analyze proposals to prevent and mitigate global warming with both proactive and responsive policies. The course will investigate policy changes to our world agricultural systems that will promote long-term food and water security. Weekly case studies will supplement reading assignments and facilitate discussions centered on the current issues. Through this course, students will gain a working knowledge of the politics, economics, and science affecting water and food issues. Economics is vitally important and at the core of many of our most challenging food and water problems and solutions, hence, natural resource economics will be a major part of this course.

CRSCAD 503: Topics in Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters
3 Credits
This course introduces the student to the complex process of post-disaster reconstruction and the roles of government, Non-Governmental Organizations, humanitarian and development agencies, multilateral establishments, and the private sector as well as the ways in which they can all support vulnerable populations during and after disasters. It also examines institutional, regulatory and policy frameworks for implementing reconstruction programs and projects. At the end of the semester, the student submits a research paper on a topic selected by him/her and approved by the instructor.

Graduate Certificate Electives

CRSCAD 521: Human Dignity, Human Rights and Sustainable Post-Disaster Reconstruction
3 Credits
The course will explore the intersecting dynamics of human dignity, humiliation, and human rights in the context of post-disaster reconstruction. In today’s world, human rights ideals stipulate that each human being possesses an inner core of dignity and therefore should not be humiliated. The shift toward greater awareness of these ideals brings to the forefront the risk that post-disaster strategies and responses, once accepted and considered helpful, are perceived as deeply humiliating.

The phenomenon of humiliation will be central to our discussion. We will use a relational perspective to examine the history and theory of humiliation from the context of globalization, culture differences, inter-group conflict, cooperation and competition, negotiation and mediation, economic justice, trust, violence, and power. We will consider why awareness of humiliation is gaining importance as the world develops towards an ever more interdependent global village. In addition, we will discuss how post-disaster responses interface with ongoing structural disasters (e.g., international conflict, economic injustice, environmental exploitation, etc.) that can trigger or intensify feelings of humiliation. People who feel demeaned, devalued, or dehumanized on either side of a disaster response (victims and interveners) may engage in behaviors that ultimately deprive people of the crucial resources and relationships they need to recover from catastrophe.

This course recognizes that the world is in the middle of a human rights revolution. People are moving away from systems of ranked honor toward equal dignity. This involves a global transformation of power in relationships, dramatically altering how we engage in helping relationships at all levels. We propose that post-disaster reconstruction can be an opportunity to implement innovative and sustainable solutions that build and strengthen "right relationships," relationships free from humiliation, relationships that support the healing, health, and dignity of all involved in post-disaster reconstruction.

The structure of this online course will consist of introductory presentations given by the instructors, as well as discussions, exercises, and in-class presentations by the students on topic areas that focus on the links of theory to practice, as well as a supervised out-of-class project.

CRSCAD 522: Migrants and Refugees
3 Credits
This course will provide students with a broad overview of challenges faced by migrant and refugee populations that have been displaced by socio-political upheavals and natural disasters. The course will begin by introducing students to legal and sociological definitions of immigrant and refugee populations and to key issues in recent debates over immigrant and refugee rights in international, European and North American law. One of the goals of this review is to sensitize students to the way that definitions of immigrants and refugees (and definitions of particular categories of refugees) can be influenced by a variety of cultural, political and economic factors.

The second section of the class will explore the various conditions that lead people to become displaced. Students will be introduced to the concept of the "stateless population." We will examine how and why some stateless populations become migrant and refugee populations (and why some do not). As in the first section of the class, students will be sensitized to the socially-constructed nature of these categories (i.e. many populations that are "displaced" or "stateless" are not formally recognized as such).

Students will also be introduced to several different kinds of stateless/displaced migrant and refugee populations including: populations displaced by war and other forms of political turmoil (such as refugees from the US-Iraq war), populations displaced by natural disasters (such as the South Asian tsunami, the Haitian earthquake), populations displaced by changing environmental conditions that are being caused by global emissions and consumption patterns (such as climate refugees in South Asia) and populations displaced by dire economic conditions (such as African asylum seekers in Europe).

Each class will conclude with an extended case study of one, particular displaced migrant/refugee group, which will take approximately 3-4 weeks of course time. This extended case study will give students an opportunity to enter into a more detailed examination of the concepts and issues that were introduced in the earlier part of the class. They will be required to produce an analysis that takes a reflexive look at the causes of the displacement, the legal options and rights available to these populations under national and international law and policy solutions and best practices for meeting the needs of these populations (as well as long term strategies for addressing the root causes of the displacement).

CRSCAD 523: Climate Change: Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation
3 Credits
The theme of this course will be to address the two main imperatives in a climatically changed world: avoid conditions that will be unmanageable and manage the changes that will be unavoidable. The course will begin with a historical perspective of the variability in earth’s climate, an explanation of factors affecting climate such as the Greenhouse Effect, and a critique of current evidence indicative of global warming. To avoid catastrophic changes in earth’s future climate, mitigation strategies involving transportation, energy, agriculture, innovative technologies, legislation, cooperation between developing and developed nations, and individual responsibility will be explored. Specific strategies such as smart grid, non-carbon sources of energy, new technologies, carbon sequestration, cap and trade, and lifestyle changes will be investigated. To manage new climate conditions, adaptive measures will be necessary. The course will evaluate adaptive strategies to address rising temperatures, rising sea levels, and shifting rainfall patterns. These strategies include infrastructure modification, coastal fortification, wetlands and coral reef restoration, and the need to develop water tolerant and drought resistant crops. The students will conclude the course with an assessment of their own carbon footprint.

CRSCAD 524: Survival Skills for the 21st Century: Developing Personal, Organizational and Community Resilience
3 Credits
This course will examine resilience and the power to adapt to stress, adversity and trauma. Coping with and managing tragedy and crisis is important to the individual, his/her family and friends, employment and other relationships that are part of our lives.

CRSCAD 543: Political Economy of International Migration
3 Credits
Increased economic pressure has lead to a mass movement of peoples both inside of countries and across borders. This course focuses on the migration of individuals across national borders. This migration has not come without a cost to both the host and sending countries. The tensions caused by the experience of migration makes its investigation a difficult task, as people’s bias frequently shapes their perceptions of the causes and effects of migration. This course attempts to examine the economic causes and outcomes of international migration from both the pro- and anti-migrant perspective. The arguments of both sides have merit and deserve consideration, no matter our personal disposition toward the topic. Our goal is to develop a better understanding of both sides of the argument to gain a clearer insight into this important world phenomenon.
The aim of the course is to introduce students to the major issues associated with the economic causes and consequences of migration. Students will first gain an understanding of the theoretical reasons why people migrate. Many of these reasons are economic, both on the micro- and macro-level, but the resulting dynamic is a lasting relationship between the sending and receiving countries. We will be interested in the demographic profile of migrant populations. Their differences from the host country’s population will help determine their reception and economic contribution. Each week in our discussions we will focus on a different topic of the migration experience.

CRSCAD 596: Independent Study in Global Post-Disaster Studies (online or on-campus)
3 Credits
This guided independent study will allow the student to choose and explore an area of strong interest in global post-disaster studies that is not covered by available courses. Students are particularly encouraged to research new angles of intersection between vulnerable populations and post-disaster conditions. A detailed proposal must be submitted to, and approved by, the Director of the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters. Open to all graduate students.

CRSCAD 597
This is a 3-credit course on selected topics in global post-disasters. Course content varies according to the topic and will be announced prior to the registration period.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.

Professional Development Required Courses

PRFTRN 102: Reconstruction after the Cameras Have Gone: Principles and Best Practices
Almost every day, in recent times, most parts of the world are inflicted with one type of disaster or another. Indeed, images of horror and destruction, dislocation and starvation, as well as of those of dying children and grieving women have become common in the newspapers and on television screens. Ironically, in the case of developing countries, the tragic impacts of disasters are further exacerbated by increased level of poverty, rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, and the continuous changes in the climatic, political and economic circumstances.

So what can be done to alleviate the suffering of the victims and to support them in rebuilding their lives and homes? How can we intervene to mitigate the impact of disasters? How could future disasters be prevented? How could the tragedy turn into an opportunity for development?

PRFTRN 103: Climate Change, Global Food and Water Resources
This course will examine the causes and consequences of climate change with a special focus on food and water resources. It will analyze proposals to prevent and mitigate global warming with both proactive and responsive policies. The course will investigate policy changes to our world agricultural systems that will promote long-term food and water security. Weekly case studies will supplement reading assignments and facilitate discussions centered on the current issues. Through this course, students will gain a working knowledge of the politics, economics, and science affecting water and food issues. Economics is vitally important and at the core of many of our most challenging food and water problems and solutions, hence, natural resource economics will be a major part of this course.

PRFTRN 104: Human Dignity, Human Rights and Sustainable Post-Disaster Reconstruction
Understanding the intersecting dynamics of human dignity, humiliation, and human rights in today’s world is crucial for those working in post-disaster reconstruction. Greater awareness of human rights ideals brings to the forefront the risk that post-disaster strategies and responses, once accepted and considered helpful, are perceived as deeply humiliating. This course explores how globalization dramatically alters how we engage in helping relationships at all levels. It proposes that post-disaster reconstruction can be an opportunity to implement innovative and sustainable solutions that support the healing, health, and dignity of all involved in post-disaster recovery.

PROJMGT 002: Practical Project Management
Project management is an essential skill in today’s business world. Organizations are faced with increasing pressure to complete projects within shorter time frames and with smaller budgets than in the past. Professionals need a workable method to ensure that their projects are profitable and aligned with the strategic goals of their organization.

Practical Project Management provides professionals with the essential skills they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market. Based on The Project Management Body of Knowledge®, this highly interactive course combines expert instruction with case studies and team exercises. In addition to technical competencies, the course covers the human and political aspects of project management by using examples from students’ own projects, including areas such as social services, health, finance, and disaster recovery.

Professional Development Certificate Electives

PRFTRN 106: Social Vulnerability Approach to Disasters
This course brings disaster social science to the next generation through the lens of vulnerable populations to help build a science-based and human rights approach to risk reduction. While many approaches to social vulnerability exist, we will take a sociological approach that sees social vulnerabilities as social productions which may be reflected, reinforced and contested in disasters, and can be reduced through disaster management. Readings and discussion, primarily but not exclusively focused on the United States and similar societies, introduce students to the growing body of literature on factors shaping social vulnerability to hazards and disasters, and hence to disaster resilience.

PRFTRN 093: Performance Management in Government and Non-Profits
Governments around the world have increasingly come to realize the value of setting goals, measuring performance and using the resulting data as a core management tool to improve societal outcomes. This management approach is often referred to as "performance management" or "managing for results." Experience has shown that, when well used, goals and measurement can greatly improve the operation and understanding of government programs and priorities. Experience has also shown that misuse of goals and measures, especially when combined with incentives, can provoke dysfunctional, performance-dampening responses.

This course explores what performance management means and how government agencies can adopt this management approach. Students will learn how to develop skills to refine the way goals and strategies are articulated so that they can be effectively measured, and to select practical performance measures. Also covered are how to identify target audiences, present data clearly, and to analyze and use data to improve performance. Using theoretical readings, case studies, and exercises, the course provides a conceptual grasp of the underlying dynamics employed when you manage for results. It also provides a practical understanding of how to apply performance management tools successfully at all levels of government and in non-profits, across a wide range of policy areas, including social service delivery, health, education, public safety, transportation and disaster preparedness/recovery.

PRFTRN 114: Independent Study
This guided independent study will allow the student to choose and explore an area of strong interest in global disaster studies that is not covered by available courses.  A detailed proposal must be submitted to, and approved by, the Director the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (CRSCAD).


Attention Veterans!

CRSCAD Global Post-Disaster programs may be eligible for the GI Bill Read More 

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Students enrolled in the Global Post-Disaster Studies Certificate Program are eligible to apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IV financial aid programs, including the Federal Direct Student Loan Program Read More 

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