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History of Emergency Management at NDSU

Involvement in disaster research at North Dakota State University extends back to 1979 when departmental faculty received National Science Foundation funding to study the impact of a large tornado in Texas. The establishment of a specific Emergency Management curriculum, however, began in 2001 when the State Board of Higher Education approved a minor in Emergency Management. In 2003 the State Board approved proposals to offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Emergency Management. As a result, NDSU became one of the many undergraduate programs in Emergency Management, one of the few with master’s degrees, and the only doctoral degree in the United States that was specifically granted in Emergency Management. The first bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees were awarded in 2004, 2006, and 2009, respectively.

The degree programs were initially nested in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. The department was renamed the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Emergency Management in 2007 and became its own department, the Department of Emergency Management, in 2010 under the leadership of Dr. Daniel J. Klenow. Leadership of the department transitioned to Dr. Jessica Jensen in 2017. This transition is notable because it marks the first time a tenured emergency management doctoral degree holder became the head of an emergency management department. 

The program has five faculty. All faculty hold doctoral degrees; three hold doctoral degrees in emergency management. 

Vision and Mission

The Department of Emergency Management understands Emergency Management to be three things: an emerging academic discipline, an emerging profession, and a distributed function. 

The emerging academic discipline of emergency management is the scientific study of how human beings create, interact, and cope with hazards, vulnerability, and associated events. The principle method the emergency management discipline uses to understand these topics is integration and synthesis of scholarship from the diverse disciplines that study these issues at the individual and household, organizational, community, national, and global levels in the areas of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. The product of this synthesis is used by scholars to both educate students and guide their own research.

The academic discipline of emergency management serves the profession of emergency management charged with protecting "communities by coordinating and integrating all activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the capability to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters" (Principles of Emergency Management, 2007, p. 4) in two ways. First, the discipline provides the field with graduates of degree programs at various levels who have been socialized into this synthesized way of thinking and who approach their work with an understanding of the history of the field, the complex nature of the contexts in which emergency management exists, and how evidence might be used to inform practice within context constraints in all of the aforementioned areas. Second, the discipline provides the emerging profession with research in these same areas.

Yet, the emergency management academic discipline also informs the distributed function of emergency management. This phrase, "distributed function", recognizes that emergency management professionals do not "do" emergency management. Instead, the responsibility of "doing" emergency management lies with entities distributed throughout our organizations and jurisdictions at every level. The discipline seeks to educate individuals who will go on to work in organizations, departments, and agencies throughout society so that they may carry through their careers knowledge about emergency management science and how the work they will do relates. 

The Department of Emergency Management seeks to educate individuals who will go onto work in and/or otherwise serve the profession with its bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree programs. The Department leverages a variety of minors to engage students who will go on to work in the distributed function.

Our understanding of emergency management and our role as part of the academic discipline has led us to design our curriculum to:

  1. Clearly reflect a strong foundation in academic scholarship related to individual and household, organizational, community, and national/global preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation
  2. Provide consistent opportunities through class activities and projects to apply what students learn, particularly through projects that engage students in our community 
  3. Foster a rich learning environment wherein people with diverse backgrounds and career goals interact and learn from one another
  4. Be a strong complement with a unique identity that is supplemented by 

    • Student completion of one or more required internships at all degree levels
    • Student pursuit of training specific to their intended career path
    • Student development of professional networks
    • Faculty professional development mentoring from the start of all degree programs to their completion and beyond

Further, our understanding of our role within the academic discipline has led our faculty to each be deeply committed to being excellent educators, seeking ways to bring about synergy between education, training, and practice, actively engaging with practitioners including through emergency management professional associations, and contributing to the body of knowledge through our own research.

Faculty and Staff


Carol Cwiak, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Contact Information
Office Location: 428B12 Minard Hall
Office Phone: 701-231-5847
Email Address:

Jessica Jensen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Contact Information
Office Location: 428B6 Minard Hall
Cell Phone: 701-219-4293
Office Phone: 701-231-5886
Email Address:

Sarah Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Contact Information
Office Location: 428B6 Minard Hall
Office Phone: 701-231-8941
Email Address:

Daniel J. Klenow, Ph.D.

Contact Information
Office Location: 428B14 Minard Hall
Office Phone: 701-231-8925
Email Address: 

Faculty Emeritus

George A. Youngs Jr., Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus

Contact Information
Email address:


Kate Ulmer

Contact Information
Office Location: Minard 428
Office Phone: 701-231-5595
Email Address: 


The Department of Emergency Management at NDSU has been and will continue to support the development of an academic discipline of emergency management. It is one of our biggest and most ongoing "projects". Toward that end, faculty members in the Department have participated in various national level efforts, published written work, and provided paper presentations at conferences. Selected contributions from 2010-2012 in these three categories are listed below.

Developing the Academic Discipline

Selected National-Level Contributions

2014, Accreditation Working Group, Invited Participant and Report Author, J.Jensen

2014, Report of the Feedback on the Emerging, Draft Accreditation Process and General Standards, Survey Research and Report Author, J. Jensen

2014, Emergency Management Higher Education Today: The 2014 FEMA Higher Education Program Survey, Survey Research and Report Author, C. Cwiak

2014, Results from a Survey Gauging Emergency Management Higher Education Community Consensus on Key Points related to Research Standards for the Discipline of Emergency Management, Survey Research and Report Author, J. Jensen

2014, Snap Shot of the Results from a Survey Gauging Emergency Management Higher Education Community Consensus on Key Points related to Emergency Management’s Disciplinary Identity, Survey Research and Report Author, J. Jensen

2014, Training and Education Synergy Working Group, Invited Facilitator and Report Writer, C. Cwiak, Invited Participant, J. Jensen

2013, FEMA Higher Education Program Focus Group Implementing Research Standards in Emergency Management, Invited Faciliator and Report Author, J. Jensen

2012, 2013, Draft Research Standards for the Academic Discipline of Emergency Management, Original Drafter of Standards and Editor, J. Jensen

2013, FEMA Higher Education Program Focus Group Part II: Accreditation, Invited Participant, J. Jensen.

2013, FEMA Higher Education Program Focus Group Part II: Disciplinary Purview, Participant, Daniel J. Klenow, Invited Facilitator and Report Author, J. Jensen.

2013, FEMA Higher Education Program Survey on Support for Accreditation Across Emergency Management Degree Offering Institutions, Survey Research and Report Author, J. Jensen.

2012, FEMA Higher Education Focus Group on thePurview and Core Research Questions for the Academic Discipline of Emergency Management, Invited Facilitator and Report Author, J. Jensen.

2012, FEMA Higher Education Focus Group on Research Standards in Emergency Management, Invited Facilitator, Participant, Report Author, J. Jensen.

2012, FEMA Higher Education Focus Group on Accreditation for Emergency Management Higher Education Programs, Participant, J. Jensen.

2010-current, IAEM Training and Education Committee, Co-Chair, C.L. Cwiak.

2009-current, Emergency Management Higher Education Consortium (EMHEC), Executive Director, C.L. Cwiak.

2008-current, Blanchard Award for Excellence in Emergency Management Higher Education, Committee Member, C.L. Cwiak and D. J. Klenow.

2007-2009 FEMA Higher Education Focus Group on Emergency Management Principles/Doctrine, Focus Group Participant, C.L. Cwiak.

Selected Written Contributions

2012, Report of the focus group on the purview and core research questions for the academic discipline of emergency management for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Higher Education Project. Available at:, J. Jensen.  

2012,  Report of the focus group on research standards in emergency management for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Higher Education Project. Available at:, J. Jensen.

2011, Framing the future: What should emergency management graduates know? Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 8 (2), Article 14, C. L. Cwiak.

2011, "Next steps in emergency management’s professionalization process: Who will be the gatekeeper of the profession of emergency management?" In J.A. Hubbard (Ed.), Challenges of emergency management in higher education: Planning and strategies. Fairfax, VA: Public Entity Risk Institute, C.L. Cwiak.

2011, “An argument in favor of a disciplinary approach to emergency management in higher education”. In J. Hubbard (ed.), Challenges of emergency management in higher education: Planning and strategies. Fairfax, VA: Public Entity Risk Institute, J. Jensen.

2011, “Developing and maintaining emergency management graduate programs.” In J. Hubbard (ed.), Challenges of emergency management in higher education: Planning and strategies. Fairfax: Public Entity Risk Institute, D.J. Klenow and G. Youngs.

2010, "Emergency management higher education: A snapshot of the community". In J.A. Hubbard (Ed.), Integrating emergency management studies into higher education: Ideas, programs, and strategies. Fairfax, VA: Public Entity Risk Institute, C.L. Cwiak.

2010, “Emergency management theory: Unrecognized, underused, and underdeveloped”. In J. Hubbard (ed.), Integrating emergency management studies into higher education: Ideas, programs, and strategies (pp. 7-24). Fairfax, VA: Public Entity Risk Institute, J. Jensen.

2010, “Developing and enhancing emergency management programs at the undergraduate level”.  In J. Hubbard (ed.), Integrating emergency management studies into higher education: Ideas, programs, and strategies. Fairfax, VA: Public Entity Risk Institute, D.J. Klenow and G. Youngs.

Selected Current Projects

  • Dr. B. Wayne Blanchard Award for Academic Excellence in Emergency Management Higher EducationNDSU created the Dr. B. Wayne Blanchard Award for Academic Excellence in Emergency Management Higher Education to honor contributions within the Emergency Management Higher Education Community. Dr. Blanchard was asked to be the namesake for the award based on the depth and breadth of his contributions to the field of emergency management. Dr. Blanchard was presented with a plaque commemorating his contributions at the 11th Annual Emergency Management Higher Education Conference by Carol Cwiak (on behalf of the Award Committee).
  • Fargo/Cass County Emergency Management The Department of Emergency Management works closely with Fargo/Cass County Emergency Management. At any given time, there are a number of ongoing projects on which the Department and Fargo/Cass County are collaborating. An example of a current project is helping Fargo/Cass County Emergency Management integrate social media into their future response and recovery activities.
  • Boy's State Exercise Facilitation An annual 2-day exercise developed and faciltiated by North Dakota State University Department of Emergency Management faculty and students in collaboration with key emergency management relevant agency representatives for high school boys from around North Dakota. The exercise is designed to help them learn about emergency management and the various roles of government organizations in emergency management.
  • Expanding Your Horizons Exercise  An annual education event for middle school girls in grades 7-9 in North Dakota. Girls are provided an overview of emergency management and the opportunity to participate in an abbreviated functional exercise. The exercise is designed to help the girls understand teh role of emergency management in these types of events.
  • RED Team Assessments Emergency management program students annually assess the vulnerabilities of a number of campus facilities and provide recommendations to campus administrators responsible for the facililties.
  • Gap Analysis Each year emergency management program students assess the vulnerabilities and preparedness of between 3 and 5 local schools, organizations, and businesses and provide recommendations as to how to go about addressing any areas of weakness found.

Selected Past Projects

  • The New Normal: The Direct and Indirect Impacts of Oil Drilling and Production on the Emergency Management Function in North Dakota The study addressed in this report examined the type and extent of direct and indirect impacts of oil drilling and production on the emergency management function in North Dakota. The North Dakota State University student-faculty research team’s goal was to produce a report that advanced understanding, sharpened focus, and offered timely, significant recommendations to legislators, policy makers, and community planners regarding the changes and challenges oil drilling and production have brought to the emergency management landscape.  The team took a two-pronged approach to accomplish its directive. The first prong involved objective assessment of existing articles, reports, data and industry projections from distinct topical areas (i.e., oil, socioeconomic, transportation, public health, fire, emergency medical services, and law enforcement) to help better understand and frame the impacts from an emergency management perspective.  The second prong sought to engage the thoughts, observations, and opinions of emergency management and partner agency personnel in order to tell the story of impacts and potential solutions from their perspective. The work conducted in the first prong of the study coupled with study participants’ comments regarding impacts and recommendations helped frame the report’s 21 recommendations. Download the report. If you have any questions about the report, please contact Carol Cwiak at (701) 231-5847 or
  • Teen CERT Each semester emergency management students facilitate the Teen CERT curriculum in regional area middle and high schools. The students are embedded within a course in the standard curriculum (e.g., PTE or Health) and facilitate the course once a week for a 10-week period.
  • Ready Campus Initiative The NDSU Ready Campus Initiative was funded by the Department of Education (ED) Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) grant program. This competitive grant is awarded only to Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) which exhibit a progressive vision for the integration of emergency management practices into their operational structures and demonstrate the capabilities and drive to successfully execute goals and objective unique to each IHE’s established needs.
  • ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Department of Emergency Management students handled the management of volunteers for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in the Fall of 2010 for a build in Moorhead, MN. Over the course of the week of the build, students managed more than 4,000 volunteers.
  • Ready Campus Initiative: Ready Campus Summit The Ready Campus Initiative (RCI) sponsored the Ready Campus Summit for Higher Education on Thursday September 30 and Friday October 1, 2010. The free conference focused on the importance of comprehensive emergency planning efforts and relationship building within a Higher Education framework. The conference also provided attendees with helpful planning strategies and materials to better protect lives, property, and sustain operations during a campus crisis. More than 80 individuals representing emergency management and higher education from 27 institutions/organizations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana attended.
  • EMSA's Emergency Preparedness Expo Held annually in the Memorial Union Great Room. The event focused on educating students and faculty on hazard awareness and preparedness. Organizations participating in the event included: NDSU Extension Service, Clay County GIS, Fargo Cass Public Service, ND State Climate Office - NDSU, Fargo Fire Department, National Weather Service, Sanford Health, American Red Cross, NDSU UP & SO, Red River Radio Amateurs, FM Ambulance, Fargo-Cass Emergency Management, Lutheran Disaster Response, Fargo Police Department, Ready Campus Initiative, NDSU Department of Emergency Management, Emergency Management Student Association.
  • 2009 Fargo Flood Fight Department students managed volunteers and information in conjunction with FirstLink and Fargo/Cass County Emergency Management.
  • Prepared Kids
  • Disaster Resistant University
  • Fargo Marathon Department students were embedded with the Fargo Marathon planning team and provided advice on emergency management. Additionally, students prepared an EOP for the Marathon that was first used in 2008 and continues to be maintained and used each year.
  • Distinguished Professor Series The department brought in three distinguished professors between 2007 and 2009 to teach seminars on their specialty areas. Dr. Elaine Enarson, May 18-22, focused on gender and disaster. Lucien G. Canton, CEM, CPP,CBCP, May 19-23, 2008, focused on Emergency Management in a large urban setting. Dr. Dennis Mileti, July 16-20, 2007, focused on risk assessment.

Support the Emergency Management Program


The North Dakota State University Development Foundation has an account for donations to the Department and another for the Emergency Management Scholarship Fund. Donations made to the Department exclusively fund alumni events and support student professional development (e.g., attendance of conferences). The Emergency Management Scholarship Fund provides support for three scholarships recognizing: 1. academic and professional excellence, 2. passion for emergency management, and 3. personal and professional growth while a major. 

Those interested in supporting either fund can mail checks to the NDSU Development Foundation at 1241 N. University Drive, Fargo, North Dakota 58102. In the subject or notation line of the check you should write Department of Emergency Management or Emergency Management Scholarship Fund depending on which you desire to support. 

Gifts can also be made to the Department Fund online  and the Scholarship Fund online

Few disciplines have such a clear and profound impact.  Donations benefit not only the Emergency Management Department at North Dakota State University, but by extension the newly developing discipline of Emergency Management, and disaster mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.  Your contributions make an impact at the local, county, state, national, and international levels. 

Represent DEM Proudly

Wear your Department of Emergency Management T-shirt! Don't have one and want one (back depicted below)? Contact Jessica Jensen at to find out how you can get yours.

Display your Department of Emergency Management poster! We are happy to send you one of our 11 x 17 posters to display at your home or office. Want more than one? No problem. Contact Jessica Jensen at to make arrangements to get yours!

Choose Department of Emergency Management for your cellphone and/or computer wallpapers. Just save these NDSU approved images and you are on your way! Get the wallpapers.

Contact Us

For additional program information please contact:


Office: 701.231.5595
Fax: 701.231.5118

Department of Emergency Management
North Dakota State University
Dept. 2351, P.0. Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Department of Emergency Management
North Dakota State University
1210 Albrecht Blvd., 428 Minard Hall
Fargo, ND 58102

Main Office:  428 Minard Hall
Head's Office: 428B6 Minard Hall


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