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Master’s Program Geared Toward Emergency Management Professionals Looking to Lead

Drury University

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Drury University’s public service and safety leadership master’s program was designed to create future emergency management leaders. Tailored toward men and women already employed in the wide array of emergency management sectors, “This program of study will give them the knowledge, insight and experience they need to progress in their careers and learn how to lead their departments well,” said Beth Harville, Provost at Drury University.

The interdisciplinary curriculum was designed by a host of emergency management leaders in Springfield.   “They really are the ones who put the curriculum together.” Harville said.  The university asked these professionals in fire departments, police departments, and even the FBI what they wanted students to know in order to advance in their organizations. “They all came together and collaborated with us on what a meaningful curriculum would look like for people who work in these areas. The creators of the program will also teach the majority of the coursework, which will be an added bonus to our students, as these leaders are the ones currently building the strategies and tactics around crisis response.  “This is a great opportunity for the next generation of emergency management leaders to obtain first-hand knowledge.“

A theme that kept coming up when collaborating with these emergency management leaders was they can train someone to do the actual job they’re hired for, but anyone who wants to go into leadership needs additional training to add to their knowledge and skillset.  That is where the idea of a comprehensive public service and safety master’s degree arose.

Fire Chief for the Battlefield Fire Protection District Scott W. Moore is in his 29th year in the fire service. He had been in fire and law enforcement for a while when he decided it was time to take the leap into leadership. “I wanted to do something that I wasn’t already doing, and emergency management just made sense,” said Moore. “Fire and law enforcement pair together really well by coordinating all facets of community response.” Moore began looking for degree programs when a friend told him about the program at Drury. “I looked at my options and met with an adviser at Drury and it was an easy choice.” He passed his first class with an A.

Moore finished the program and now holds an emergency management bachelor’s degree and the public service and safety leadership master’s degree from Drury. In addition to being one of the first graduates of the program, Moore was asked to bring his professional insight and knowledge to help tailor the programs to the needs of those seeking the degrees. Now he’s teaching courses as an adjunct instructor in the College of Graduate Studies.

Harville mentioned a current student recently commented on how her first four courses in the master’s program were taught by a fire leader, a law enforcement leader, a Red Cross leader and an FBI leader. “This really gives students an understanding of emergency management from all of the different players.  The student told me no other program she considered offered this kind of diversity of perspective in their programs and this exposure also has really helped her build her professional contacts.”

The master’s program coursework covers human resources, organizational leadership, ethical decision making and project management, along with other leadership skills that aren’t easily learned on the job. “I think the two things that stand out in this program are the interdisciplinary nature of the teaching with all the different sectors of emergency management contributing to the education of these students,” said Harville. “The second is all our students in the master’s program do a capstone project that is directly related to their particular area of expertise. Each student should be able to walk away from this program with a project that is ready to implement at their place of work.”

In addition to the master’s in public service and safety leadership, Drury is launching a fire science certificate this fall and continues to offer an undergraduate degree in emergency management. Students who pursue a bachelor’s degree in emergency management and then follow that with a master’s in public service and safety leadership will receive an added benefit. Six hours of the undergraduate degree will apply to the 30-hour master’s degree program. Classes are offered online and can be completed in eight weeks. 


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