Course fo­cus is dis­as­ters

Central Leader - - NEWS -

The po­ten­tial for vi­o­lent earth­quakes and vol­canic erup­tions in New Zealand has prompted the cre­ation of a new univer­sity course.

From next year stu­dents at Auck­land Univer­sity will be of­fered a masters de­gree in disas­ter man­age­ment.

The de­gree will fo­cus on the com­plex­i­ties of ur­ban built en­vi­ron­ments and se­ri­ous dis­as­ters with a mix of cour­ses across dif­fer­ent fac­ul­ties, in­clud­ing en­gi­neer­ing, plan­ning and ar­chi­tec­ture.

While other uni­ver­si­ties of­fer var­i­ous emer­gency man­age­ment cour­ses, Auck­land Univer­sity de­gree will fo­cus on large-scale dis­as­ters.

As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Suzanne Wilkin­son says stu­dents will be trained to deal with se­vere events that have the po­ten­tial to over­whelm emer­gency ser­vices.

Ms Wilkin­son also says the re­cent dis­as­ters in Christchurch have high­lighted the need for ed­u­ca­tion across a range of pro­fes­sions.

‘‘One of the lessons from the Can­ter­bury earth­quakes ex­pe­ri­ence is the im­por­tance of a broad un­der­stand­ing of the disas­ter risk con­text for engi­neers, plan­ners and de­sign­ers.’’

Civil De­fence pub­lic in­for­ma­tion man­ager Vince Cholewa says al­though New Zealand is gen­er­ally well equipped to deal with dis­as­ters, he wel­comes the move by Auck­land Univer­sity.

‘‘In gen­eral we re­spond very well to dis­as­ters but there’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment and that’s where univer­sity cour­ses come in,’’ he says.

The de­gree is due to start in the sec­ond se­mes­ter of 2014 with en­rol­ments open­ing early next year.

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