Disasters course anything but a disaster

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Being college students, we all had to suffer through at least thirteen years of schooling to get here. We are all expert students; we know exactly how much time it will take to finish an assignment, we can balance and take care of all the things on our plate, and we can identify a good professor as soon as they walk into the room. We know what classes will be full of busy work and what courses will truly inspire us to learn and help us in our field.

At the beginning of each student’s career at Radford University, it’s up to luck and rumors on what kind of classes you get saddled with. But as time passes and you get to know your professors, you can tailor your classes to only ones that you know you will enjoy.

Being a junior at RU and knowing full well what professors in the political science inspire me to learn, I decided to take a class about disaster policy with Dr. Corbin. I was not sure what exactly to expect, but I knew that the class was going to be interesting and I would learn a lot of relevant information in a comfortable environment. As soon as Dr. Corbin read over the syllabus I knew I was right.

The official title of the class is POSC 390: The Politics of Disasters and Crises. The main objective involves the class as a whole working together to draft emergency policy for the City of Radford. At the end of the semester, the whole class will present our policy change suggestions to the Radford City council so they can use our findings in their revisions of the City’s emergency policy.

Dr. Corbin broke down the process of policy making in to smaller assignments that required us to work in groups of two or three. We first had to interview stakeholders (people in positions that are concerned with Radford’s emergency policy). The interviewees included Police Chief Goodman, Assistant Fire Chief Rodney Haywood, and Willy Richardson, the regional emergency coordinator for our area.

We then had to conduct research on our own and find academic articles that had to do with emergency policy to see what the rest of the academic world has found on this subject already. We then had to connect our academic research to Radford’s specific emergency policy troubles (e.g. flooding, population rise when classes are in session, etc.).

Before the presentation in front of the Radford City Council, each group will assimilate our individual information with the rest of the class into a collective project. Our presentation will be full of suggestions that are backed up with extensive research from reliable sources.

But, wait there’s more!

In between doing all of this, Dr. Corbin also has invited numerous guest speakers to come and talk to the class about their experience in emergency policy. Most have been Radford alumni who have gotten jobs in government agencies like FEMA and the NSA. I particularly enjoyed this part of class because the speakers gave us advice on what exactly happens after graduation and what skills we would most likely need to standout in the current, terrifying job market. Many of the skills mentioned are ones we are learning or improving in Dr. Corbin’s disasters class.

This course is a prime example of what learning should be at a university. The structure of the class is very simple and easy to conceptualize. However, even though the ending goal is complex, the class will complete it easily because of all the pieces working harmoniously together. Working as a team is a huge part of the professional world.

I am proud to be apart of a University that gives me the opportunity to be apart of a class like this. In POSC 390, I am learning how to draft policy, conduct research, refine critical thinking skills, and other traits that will assist me in my success in the future. There needs to be more classes like this at Radford University!