PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Between devastating earthquakes in Haiti, deadly European flash floods, and the ongoing wildfires torching the Pacific Northwest, natural disasters appear to be amplifying in both severity and frequency.

To adapt to the evolving landscape amidst climate change, Portland State University is launching a new Emergency Management and Community Resilience program.

Beginning this fall, the graduate level master’s and certificate program aims to train students to work in the budding emergency management and disaster field, equipping them with the tools to respond to life-altering emergencies.

PSU Director of the Emergency Management and Community Resilience program, Dr. Jeremy Spoon told KOIN 6 News the rollout of the new program could not be more timely.

“I don’t think any of us can deny that the rapidity and severity of these events is increasing. We’re seeing it both locally and globally,” Dr. Spoon stated. “We have seismic activity in our volcanically active landscape, our experiences with climate change, and in the background (since 2020) we’ve had a public health pandemic! So, thinking about all the learning we’ve done over the last couple years, PSU is positioning itself to be at the forefront of training for new positions to engage these complicated problems.”

According to Dr. Spoon, the connection between emergency management and community resilience is what sets PSU’s program apart from others.

“We want to look at things like ‘resilience’ critically, so we don’t replicate systems of inequality that we might want to rethink as these events occur,” Dr. Spoon added. “At times, these hazards and disasters replicate existing inequalities and ‘building back better’ isn’t necessarily possible without better understanding the context of those circumstances.”

As disasters continue to impact every corner of the globe, Dr. Spoon expects the field will expand to meet the increasing demand. “These hazards are affecting people today and we definitely predict that this will amplify into the future,” explained Dr. Spoon. “And there will be more opportunities for the workforce to grow, in that we are going to experience more and more of these events.”

The master’s degree program offers students a two-year, 53-credit curriculum with over 100 elective courses, and the opportunity to study against a background of forests, fault lines, volcanoes and the coast.

Fall applications for PSU’s Emergency Management and Community Resilience program remain open until September 17.