New Emergency Management Graduate Certificate Sparks Serious Interest

By: Ashley Duvelius

More than 50 professionals took advantage of the June 12th preview of UC’s new Emergency Management Graduate Certificate which sparked keen interest across the spectrum of emergency response personnel attending. The seminar, designed to introduce the courses of the certificate and the professors, left attendees asking only one question - How do I enroll?   

UC’s new Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management program capitalizes on two of the university’s existing academic strengths—engineering and medical technologies. Over 30 experienced educators and practitioners team teaching a solid well-orchestrated curriculum, world-class research and advanced technology combine to provide the knowledge required to confront and master 21s century challenges.

Emergency Medical Unit and Supplies Truck

Emergency Medical Unit and Supplies Truck

The objective of the new Graduate Certificate in Emergency Management is to prepare emergency responders, corporate and school security and emergency management officials to cope with emergency situations on every scale. 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, rogue nations and the continuous threat of terrorist attacks demand that responders have the background, advanced training, organizational skills and planning to address a crisis as it unfolds.

The new certificate is valuable to professionals across agencies for many reasons. Its courses encompass homeland security, hazardous materials, hospital security, private industry preparedness and related fields. Due to the breadth of knowledge within each course, professionals are able to take courses with content in or closely related to their field.

To teach these courses UC utilizes a diverse team of professors who are experts on different subject matters. These experts, like the courses they teach, include firemen, policemen, private security consultants, federal agents, and administrators from assistance agencies at all levels from the community to the federal government.

It was said by many who attended that each professor brought enough knowledge to the table to teach their own course. The team teaching combines their extensive knowledge and expertise in the field, giving the program a wholly original take on learning. With the knowledge of his teaching teams, Bennett guarantees students will learn the best practices and procedures to deal with emergencies of limited or large scale. Building on UC’s strengths in the fields of medical, legal, engineering and law enforcement, students take courses spanning the many aspects of an emergency and its aftermath. The certificate is designed to complement any bachelor’s degree that first responders already hold.

Attendees Karen Philibin, EMS Chief of Springfield Township, and Janice Gartland, EMS Responder from Youngstown, were happily surprised by the depth and worth of the new certificate. “Northern Ohio does not have opportunities like this. This new certificate program is a phenomenal tool for our Fire and EMS responders to further their careers through education. Especially for our younger responders, this is a wonderful way for them to branch out from their bachelor’s degrees to secure themselves in their careers. By making it an online program, not only can northern Ohio citizens benefit, but also Kentucky and Indiana residents as well,” Gartland and Philibin agree.

Those who attended were also pleased with how the courses are being offered—online. With the intense and hectic schedules of emergency responders, meeting in a classroom setting proved to be a challenge. For students who travel or are on active military duty, the use of Blackboard allows them to successfully complete the course on their own time. Previously using Blackboard to teach a course, Bennett recounted a student who had been on a tour of duty in Iraq that had no problem with completing his work online. The online courses also expand the opportunity to residents across the US and potentially, the world.  

Not only are the courses flexible, but through the use of an online discussion board, students are encouraged to interact and give each other substantial feedback. Students are given assignments online and then submit and discuss them on the discussion board. Acting as an open forum, the discussion board allows for extensive interaction among students. Bennett found that during such discussions, one student may find another who has had first-hand experience dealing with their assignment matter. This allows students to gain even more knowledge—from each other.

Certificate creators William M. Kramer, PhD and former director of the UC Fire Science Program, and Lawrence Bennett, JD, BA, CEAS assistant professor educator, held a no charge seminar previewing the new program. It was open to emergency response personnel in the Greater Cincinnati Area but attendees came all the way from Northern Ohio and Tennessee. Special appearances were made by the Cincinnati Fire Department Bomb Squad, Greater Cincinnati Airport Disaster Unit, Hamilton County SWAT Command Vehicle and a Hazmat/WMD Suits/PPE supplies. Those who attended received 6 hours of Continuing Education credit and a Certificate of Seminar Completion.

Cohen's graduate student explains how their UAV works

Cohen's graduate student explains how their UAV works

Also at the preview was a presentation by Kelly Cohen, PhD and CEAS aerospace engineering associate professor. Cohen displayed his and his graduate students’ work on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) with cameras and sensors. These UAV’s are intended to be used for surveillance of forest fires. Combined with advanced firefighting software, they can predict how and where the fire will burn. Cohen is part of the Legal & Political Issues & Application of New Technologies teaching team and looks forward to familiarizing emergency responders with new technologies such as these that can be applicable across many fields.

Nathan Bromen, Deputy Chief of the Deerfield Township Police Department, offered a suggestion, “The police department would benefit greatly by having a UAV and robots to survey and assess a building in which a hostage situation, fire or bomb threat is unfolding. UAV’s would be a tremendous asset in covert operations, expanding upon the police department’s capabilities with the use of the cameras and sensors on the fixed wing.” In about three years, this surveillance technology should be on the market and it will have a significant impact on emergency response procedures.

Approximately a half an hour was devoted to explaining each of the seven new courses to be offered starting in August. The new graduate certificate courses are:

► Foundations of Emergency Management & Homeland Security

► Legal & Political Issues & Application of New Technologies

► Homeland Security & Emergency Management Grants/ New Technologies

► Unified Planning & Response—Integration of Local, Stated, Federal & Military Organizations

► Integrated Approach to Planning & Response for Medical Management of Terrorism and Large-Scale Incidents

► Responding to Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Chemical and Explosive Attacks

► Regional Approach to Hazmat, Hospital, School & Corporate Security

A number of emergency management and homeland security courses were established in the years immediately following 9/11. UC had the luxury of learning from those early courses. “One of things I learned at the University and Agency Partnership Initiative (UAPI) conference is that you have to separate yourself from the pack and highlight the strengths of your university,” said Bennett. “We are using technology and research coupled with practical experience and leveraging the hundreds of years of knowledge within our instruction teams for truly unique educational outcomes.”

The certificate’s value is further enhanced as an Articulation Agreement with Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) enables certificate holders to  have an opportunity to transition to EKU to finish a master’s degree. UC-CEAS is a partner within the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s (CHDS) UAPI.

To learn more about the new Fire Science Graduate Certificate, the new undergraduate courses and to view bios/videos of the program's professors, select

Select for story on Cohen and his student's UAV

View Discovery Channel feature story on Cohen and his student's UAV at