Student Connections

College Adds New Degree Program in Public Affairs in Response to Climbing Demand for Experts in Crisis Management

By David Henahan, director of communications

February 7, 2012

President Alan R. Davis has announced that the college has added a new degree program in public affairs. The program will prepare students for jobs and careers in public administration, health policy, journalism, urban studies, nonprofit management, political science, criminal justice, homeland security and more. It was designed to meet the demand for people with skills to prepare for and manage natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, as well as crisis and emergencies.

NOAA Image“New York has been particularly hard hit by a series of storms in the past year, which have displaced thousands, destroyed crops, roads, homes and many businesses,” said Davis. “The college is responding to the needs of the public sector for a workforce able to plan, prepare and respond to crisis. Whether the student’s goal is to expand professional opportunities, or to cultivate specific skills and expertise or contribute to society in a volunteer role, the public affairs program accommodates a broad array of interests. The common bond of these areas is the positive impact graduates will have on the well-being of society-at-large.”

“Emergency medical technicians, firefighters, police officers, corrections officers and EMTs may be able to earn credit for learning from the experience and training programs they already have completed,” said Meg Benke, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “As the federal government and many municipalities are increasing the educational requirements for these workers post 9/11, Empire State College is making a way for these students to get a rigorous education that dovetails with, and respects, the on-the-job learning that they already have.”

The college is a national leader in evaluating experience and training for possible college credit. Many training programs for first responders qualify for credit at the college, which speeds time to earn the degree and reduces the student’s financial burden.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college educates through guided independent study with a faculty mentor, onsite, online or a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace of their choosing.

“People in the public-safety professions face unique demands on their time and on their knowledge and skills,” said Jim Savitt, mentor and area coordinator for emergency management. “They may be called upon to respond to an incident, manage that response or lead the overall effort on any day and at any time. Empire State College not only prepares them to take on those roles, but, with its variety of online and independent studies, can accommodate students’ unpredictable schedules and deployments. Whether in response mode or in planning mode, these students are operating in the public arena, and the new public affairs area of study offers them the opportunity to learn how their knowledge and skills connect to the broader array of public institutions and to society generally.”

Students who study public affairs may earn three academic degrees: a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Professional Studies.