Tulane gets $5 million to lead disaster education

January 5, 2012 5:45 AM

Keith Brannon

Tulane University has been awarded a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help universities in disaster-prone regions in Africa and Asia establish a network of education and development programs in disaster resilience and leadership.

Ky Luu

Led by Ky Luu, the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy at Tulane works internationally to educate leaders in disaster planning and risk reduction. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

The goal is to empower universities to protect their communities by creating, strengthening and sustaining leaders who are experts in disaster planning, response and risk reduction, said the grant’s principal investigator Ky Luu, executive director of the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) at Tulane.

“Disasters are not natural. They are manmade reactions to natural hazards and conflict. Although we cannot prevent natural hazards, we certainly can reduce their negative impacts by planning smart, being well-prepared and responding quickly and effectively, all of which requires strong local leadership,” Luu said. “These strategies will save lives, protect livelihoods and alleviate suffering in vulnerable communities.”

The project will focus on strengthening existing community leaders through short courses and graduate certificate programs, creating graduate-level degree programs to develop a longer term leadership pipeline and establishing a global network for academics and practitioners to collaborate, connect and share lessons learned in disaster management.

In implementing the program, Tulane will partner with regional networks such as the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Thailand and the Higher Education Alliance for Leadership Through Health in East Africa. Together, these groups represent a network of 17 universities in two continents.

Established in 2009 within Tulane Law School’s Payson Center for International Development, the DRLA is the only systematic, academically based disaster resilience leadership development program in the world. It conducts courses and research in disaster resilience leadership through an interdisciplinary program taught by Tulane faculty from the law school, School of Architecture, A. B. Freeman School of Business, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Social Work.

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