Areas of Study

Courses & Requirements

Summary of Requirements

Summer I

Climate change and humanitarian disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe, demanding specialists prepared to engage in disaster risk reduction and emergency planning-related advocacy, capacity-building, research, and training across a range of fields and service sectors. 15% of the world population or 1 billion people is comprised of people with disabilities, and 70 million people are Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-plus. This course introduces students to Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) frameworks, core areas of practice in Deaf-centered DiDRR, and key concepts, international policies and guidelines, assessment tools, and DiDRR entities and networks. The course includes field visits with disaster and emergency services organizations, and provides opportunities for hand-on practice within each core practice area.

Fall I

IDP-775 introduces students to the design, planning, and implementation of community development projects with Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing people, signed language communities, and people with disabilities. Theoretical frameworks address the nature of social change in societies around the world, the interrelationship between inequitable social conditions and efforts to improve such conditions, and the value of local constituencies¿ involvement in shaping change. Students will develop essential skills for designing projects, as well as training in collaborative team-building and facilitation of projects that are sensitive to local communities¿ viewpoints, social interests, and leadership in local and international development networks.

This concentration course, taken in the second year, focuses on human behavior and the social environment of deaf and hard of hearing populations. The course looks at the complex interplay of psychosocial, system, and ecological forces in the life cycle development of individuals who experience deafness. The course explores forces of oppression and political and economic influences that impact the behavior, adaptation, and functioning of deaf and hard of hearing people.

Spring I

This course focuses on collaborative formulation, development and evaluation of programs with Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people and people with disabilities, giving special focus to economic structures and forces. Exploring current philosophical, theoretical, and methodological stances related to collaborative program development, course activities demonstrate the salience of international human rights frameworks for sign language-centered leadership and disability rights, and connect these to bi- and multilateral organizational and funding channels now undergoing enhancement as a result of the United Nation¿s introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals. Using the latter as a foundation to identifying socioeconomic problems and barriers to self-determination, participation, and equity, students will design program proposals in response to an actual Request for Proposal (RFP). Working on program development teams in the classroom setting (for all or part of the assignment), student learning activities will culminate in submitting an Evaluation Plan suitable for a program that currently exists and works with Deaf, DeafBlind, and/or Hard-of-Hearing people. In addition to cultivating program development and evaluation skills, course activities provide students with opportunities to practice program management skills and grant-writing experience.

The course introduces students to ArcGIS Online, an online Geographic Information System (GIS) application from Esri. With GIS, the student can explore, visualize, and analyze data; create 2D maps and 3D scenes with several layers of data to visualize multiple data sets at once; and share work to an online portal. GIS analytics tools are used in many disciplines and fields of practice including public health, history, sociology, political science, business, biology, international development, and information technology. In the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to take additional training on GIS applications in their specific field of interest.

This course presents specialized content about social welfare policies affecting deaf and hard of hearing people and people with disabilities. These policies are discussed within the framework of analysis and evaluation to determine future directions for policy. The impact of the service delivery, funding, and organizational systems on the implementation of policy will be considered. The course will look at policies for people who are deaf-blind, developmentally disabled, and chronically mentally ill.

Summer II

Climate change-related and humanitarian disasters are becoming more frequent and more severe, increasing the demand for specialists prepared to conduct research, training, and leadership across a range of fields and service sectors. This course is taught by an interdisciplinary faculty team, together with field-based deaf community and scientific organizational partners, to immerse students in settings where deaf community partners are committed to establishing Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Planning resources, mechanisms, and networks. The Summer Institute places heavy emphasis on practical skill-building and communication with collaborative partners in such activities as community-led situational analysis and capacity-building, DiDRR advocacy, and coalition-building with key disaster/emergency, science, and governmental entities. Fieldwork sites will be determined each year, depending on level of community interest, disaster impact, and safety of the sites under consideration, including international or domestic locations.
Program Outcomes

1. Describe the relationships between climate change, disasters, and human adaptation and resilience with respect to international research findings and policy recommendations.

2. Identify the needs of deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-disabled people and communities in disaster planning and relief.

3. Describe the theory, practice, and purpose of Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction.

4. Demonstrate knowledge of government systems and international treaties and mechanisms governing Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Planning (e.g. IASC, UN Security Council Resolution on PWD in situations of conflict)

5. Conduct community participatory disaster risk assessment and mitigation planning with deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing people and people with disabilities, their families, and communities.

6. Advocate for development of information and communication materials, mitigation planning and response protocols, disability inclusive policy guidance, and hiring of deaf DRR trainers and specialists with organizations and government entities.


Faculty and Staff

DEP Interdisciplinary Lead/Director

Audrey Cooper

Associate Professor/Director, International Development MA Program

Faculty and Staff

Caroline Solomon

Professor/School Director

Hayley Stokar
Social Work

Assistant Professor/Program Director Bachelor of Social Worker

Kota Takayama
Social Work

Assistant Professor/MSW Program Coordinator

Geoffrey Whitebread

Assistant Professor/MPA Program Director

Theodore Horton-Billard

Student Support Specialist

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Certificate in Global Leadership in Deaf-Centered Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Planning

Audrey Cooper



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