Online Certificate Course on Disaster Management

Bursary Deadline: 24 July 2013
Application Deadline: 19 August 2013
Start date: 23 September 2013


The International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS) have established an on-line Certificate Course on Disaster Management. This initiative is in line with IFRC's Strategy 2020er, Strategic Aim 1: “Save lives, protect livelihoods, and strengthen recovery from disasters and crises” and TISS's commitment  to excellence in disaster management education. This course positions the IFRC with TISS in an innovative partnership to collaborate in evolving  new areas in the realm of Disaster Management. This course, while leveraging the decades of experience, inherent strength and uniqueness of the IFRC in disaster response, will enhance the knowledge and capacities of highly qualified and motivated Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers and new humanitarian professionals, resulting in more professional support to building sustainable and resilient communities and nations. This online DM certificate course is designed to address the  existing practice-knowledge gaps by developing humanitarian professionals with the right blend of academic and practical approaches to reduce vulnerabilities and risks to hazards while developing ways of building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.

This one-year Certificate course is an introductory level foundational course of 20 credits broadly covering (i) Humanitarian Principles and Values in context of Disaster Management, (ii) Introduction to Development, (iii) Introduction to Hazards, Vulnerabilities and Disasters, (iv) Disaster Risk Reduction and Development Planning and (v) Disaster Response and Recovery, initiated with an introduction to the world of the Red Cross. There will also be a Term-paper writing component and an Internship/ Field work assignment.

Why study Disaster Management?

Globally, disasters are on the increase, impacting communities and nations with grave social and economic consequences and threatening the survival, dignity and livelihoods of the vulnerable sections of their populations. Shifting socio-economic situations, unplanned urbanisation, environmental degradation, climate variability and change, geological hazards, competition for scarce natural resources, and the threat of epidemics are factors that compound the impact of disasters. Disasters increasingly impact the global economy and the sustainable development of developing countries. In 2011 , 332 natural disasters were registered, less than the average annual disaster frequency observed from 2001 to 2010 (384). However, the human and economic impacts of the disasters in 2011 were massive. Natural disasters killed a total of 30773 people and caused 244.7 million victims worldwide. Economic damages from natural disasters were the highest ever registered, with an estimated US$ 366.1 billion. IFRC disaster management practitioners and other humanitarian actors are tremendously proficient at mounting immediate response interventions. The opportunity and challenge now is to bring together the wealth of practical disaster response experience and knowledge of the IFRC, TISS, other humanitarian actors and the academic community to address humanitarian response in a holistic and integrated manner.

Course Description

Disaster management studies are recognized as a trans-disciplinary field that combines decades of proven record in responding to disasters of the IFRC, the RC/RC Movement and other humanitarian actors and core principles of humanitarian action and draws on  theoretical perspectives and conceptual understanding from a variety of academic disciplines. The scope of the study of disasters has grown tremendously from the initial focus on natural hazards to now include a broad range of human-induced disasters, complex emergencies and crises. The emerging dynamics of economic globalization and competition for resources and resulting displacement, forced migration, conflict, and environmental refugees have added considerable complexity to the realm of disaster management.

This integrated programme defines humanitarian response within the framework of an understanding of development, with vulnerability and disaster risk reduction as an integral part of development. This programme recognizes the vulnerabilities faced by the poor and marginalized and the disproportionate impact of disasters endured by them in the developing world. In this programme, the study of disaster risk reduction, disaster response and post-disaster recovery will be grounded in the values of justice, equity and social inclusion. This course addresses all stages of disaster management in a comprehensive and holistic manner; including (i) pre- disaster preparedness and mitigation, (ii) rescue and relief in the context of disaster and (iii) post disaster rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery.

A. Course Objectives

This Certificate Course in Disaster Management is designed to impart domain knowledge, values, capacities and skills to:

- Demonstrate a critical understanding of key concepts in disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response

- Understand and appreciate the specific contributions of the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement to the practice and conceptual understanding of disaster management and humanitarian response and their significance in the current context

- Recognize issues, debates and challenges arising from the nexus between paradigm of development and disasters

- Critically evaluate disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response policy and practice from multiple perspectives

- Develop an understanding of standards of humanitarian response and practical relevance  in specific types of disasters and conflict situations

- Critically understand the strengths and weaknesses of disaster management approaches, planning and programming in different countries, particularly their home country or the countries they work in, and

- Respond to disaster risk reduction initiatives and disasters in an effective, humane and sustainable manner.

B. Course Structure

The course is of 20 credits and a participant can complete the certificate course within 12 months from the start of the programme. This is an online distance learning programme with the participants study, complete internship and term paper in their country.

Learning to Learn (Non-credit)

The participants will be oriented and introduced to the methodology of online classroom and the tools for communication and interactions. They will also be guided through practical exercises and will have the chance to clarify their concerns on the entire course learning process. Each session in a course will have a compulsory reading, and the course will further explicated with case studies and other audio-visual material from diverse contexts.  The assessment method for each course will be communicated at the start of the course by the tutor and students will have to maintain the minimum grade for passing.

The World of Red Cross (Non-Credit)

This module, introduces the participants to the world of Red Cross. The three main components of Red Cross and their roles consisting of (i) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), (ii) The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and 187 members Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will be discussed.  The role of IFRC and their work in field of disaster management and humanitarian response will be traced in detail historically for learning and understanding. The Strategy 2020 will be elaborately discussed covering its core strategies  such as
1.  Save lives, protect livelihoods, and strengthen recovery from disasters and crises
2. Enable healthy and safe living, and
3. Promote social inclusion and a culture of non-violence and peace

Module 1: Humanitarian Principles and Values   2 credits

This module provides a clear understanding of humanitarianism and humanitarian principles underlying the response to natural disasters and conflicts. It highlights the need for accountability and transparency during disaster responses through various practical examples and illustrations.

This module covers the following:

(i) Humanitarian Imperatives,
(ii) Role of International Law with components drawn from Humanitarian law, Human rights law, Refugee law, UN Guiding principles on Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs),
(iii) International Humanitarian Law and role of  ICRC,
(iv) Protection issues in humanitarian assistance
(v) Humanitarian accountability (v) Role of Red Cross covering IFRC's  Strategy 2020, Red Cross /NGO Code, RC/RC Principles

Module 2: Introduction to Development    2 credits

The key objective of this module is to orient students to the basic concepts related to political economy and development. An understanding of idea and perspectives of development would create a foundation to analyse disasters and meaningful and sustainable responses to them. The contents include Approaches to Growth & Development, Poverty, Inequality and Development, Human Development and Human Security, Economic Globalisation and Vulnerabilities, Rights Approach to Development, Means and Ends of Development, MDG Goals, and Science, Technology and the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Module 3: Introduction to Hazards, Vulnerabilities and Disasters
4 credits

This module aims to develop a conceptual understanding of hazard, exposure, risk, vulnerability and disaster. The course explains how vulnerability (internal susceptibility or defencelessness) and hazard (an external event) interact to create disasters. The contents include: Introduction to Risk and Vulnerability, Political, Social and Economic Perspectives of Risk and Vulnerability, Disasters – Introduction, Definition and Characteristics, Contributing Factors, Differentiating between Disasters, Potential Impacts of Disasters, Approaches to Disaster Risk and Vulnerability Assessment.

Module 4: Disaster Risk Reduction and Development Planning
2 credits

The objective of the module is to develop knowledge and a critical outlook on the different frameworks, approaches and methods for disaster prevention, preparedness and vulnerability reduction which include Conceptual Framework of Disaster Risk Reduction – the Hyogo Framework for Action,  DRR Measures (Assessment, Early Warning, Natural Resource Management, Social and Economic Developmental Practices), DRR Planning, Hazard and Risk Reduction Strategies: Objectives of Disaster Risk Reduction, Understanding Resilience, Linking Vulnerability Reduction and Disaster Recovery.

Module 5: Disaster Response and Post-Disaster Recovery
4 credits

Disaster response in an important component in disaster management and has emerged as an important field of study in recent years. With the increasing incidence and intensity of disaster events, there is a constant demand from the field for people trained in the basics of disaster response. There is  need to have a broad understanding of the multiple stakeholders involved in disaster response and the standards to be upheld in humanitarian aid, relief and rehabilitation and development. This course tries to address these concerns modestly by orienting the participants about various concepts relating to organized Response, Nature and Type of Immediate Response, Disaster Management Plans, Key Response Functions including Public Health, Logistics and Governance, Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, Economics and Financial Aspects of Recovery and Reconstruction.  

Module 6: Term paper: Research and Analysis   2 credits

The Term Paper requirement is designed to be a unique self-study course for participants to the online certificate programme.  This module will enable students to develop necessary research skills expected at the post-graduate level. This module requires students to write an original analytical paper publishable as a working paper based on primary or secondary data.

The module is aimed at facilitating the engagement of course participants with quality research. The participants will be encouraged to work closely with a faculty member, who will guide them systematically in selecting and developing a research area, use appropriate methods for data collection, and produce a paper with an analytical framework. Country specific case studies can be taken.

Module 7: Internship: Applied Knowledge/Practicum  4 credits

The Internship or Field Work in the certificate programme shall enable the participants to develop a broader national and international perspective on disaster management. The participants can choose their parent organization as a site for the internship or it may be based with organizations engaged with high quality research or practical work in the field of disaster risk reduction. It may also be based with any of the national/international organizations or IFRC or UN systems or government structures. The participants need to engage in ongoing DRR/Response programmes in respective locations


TISS FACULTY: Prof. S. Parasuraman,  TISS, Mumbai

Prof. T Jayaraman, M.Sc., Ph.D. (University of Madras)
Prof. Janki Andharia, M.A. (TISS), Ph.D.(East Anglia)
Dr. Jacquleen Joseph,  M.S.W. (Bharatidasan), M.Phil., Ph.D. (NIMHANS)
Mr. Mahesh Kamble,  M.A. Social Work (TISS)
Ms. Parama Bhattacharya,  M.Sc. (BHU), P.G.D (IIRS)
Dr. Balamurugan Guru,  M.Tech - Remote Sensing (Bharatidasan), Ph.D (IIT, Powai)
Dr. Shibu K Mani,  M.Tech (Applied Geology), Ph.D (Northhumbria University, U.K)
Dr. Mohammed Irshad,  M.A, M.Phil, Ph.D (Kerala University)
Dr. Biswanath Dash, Ph.D. (JNU, New Delhi)
Dr. Abhijeet Jadhav, M.B.B.S., Master of Public Health

Dr.K.M.Parivelan, M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D (JNU, New Delhi)
Other Guest Faculty by invitation
IFRC Disaster Management Practitioners

Methodology and Assessment

The programme includes online course work together with supervised and graded field internship. The programme has been designed to recreate a classroom learning environment in an online format. Students will be able to engage fully with the programme content and with their peers, via lectures, discussion boards, group work, online chat, question and answer sessions with the tutor and through the provision of peer to peer feedback and assessment.

The course will however require strong commitment from the participant and they are expected to devote approximately 8 hours online per week for their study.

Application, Language of Instruction, Eligibility and Course Fee Information

Who Can Apply

This course is meant for a wide variety of learners- practitioners in disaster management globally, IFRC and National Society volunteers and staff at all levels and others interested in disaster management and humanitarian response.

Language of Instruction

The medium of instruction will be English. Applicants whose first language is not English a clear statement from the employer (via their reference) will be accepted as evidence of the applicant’s having an appropriate standard of English Language. Among other things, this statement must confirm that the applicant’s job has involved working substantially through the medium of English.

Selection Process

TISS and IFRC will select up to 30 qualified participants to attend this course in the first cohort.


Applicants should have a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university as per Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Ability to work online with reasonable level of access to the Internet using Firefox or Internet Explorer web browsers.

To apply, please visit TISS website at  http://ifrc.tiss.edu to know more about this course  and how to apply online. In case of enquiries, please contact us at onlinedm@tiss.edu. To learn more on courses offered by Red Cross Red Crescent Learning Network, please visit: www.ifrc.org/learning

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world's largest humanitarian organization, with 191 member National Societies. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, our work is guided by seven fundamental principles; humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. About this site & copyright