Leadership in Times of Crisis: Pandemics, Disasters, and Humanitarian Crises (ENES475/675)

Global Leadership Courses

ENES475/675 - Leadership in Times of Crisis: Pandemics, Disasters, and Humanitarian Crises

Available Summer I 2020 (online June 1, 2020 - July 10, 2020)! This course is open to all students. Register on Testudo now!

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of engaging in leadership in times of crisis. This course brings together the study and practice of leadership with best practices in disaster preparedness and data informed decision-making. Now, more than ever, it is clear global communities need those who can lead during times of crisis and understand when and how to use data, data analysis, and predictive models to inform decisions in times of crisis.

This course will provide an examination of how leadership has been enacted to help local, national, and global communities navigate through pandemics, disasters, and other humanitarian crises. Students will develop capacities for informed leadership in times of crisis and develop an understanding for applying these skills in a variety of settings, industries, and public and non-profit settings. Beyond the traditional disciplines of data science, our modern world is filled with data and technology systems that are the future of informing leadership. Embedded through this course will be voices of leadership from the scientific and crisis response community.

The course will be designed in three parts:

  1. An overview of leadership theories, models, and practices used in times of crisis and an examination around how culture influences leadership in times of crisis;
  2. Review of technical approaches to employ data, data analysis, predictive models, and data visualization as applied to emergency and crisis leadership decision-making;
  3. Connect theory to practice by applying the theories and technical approaches, demonstrated throughout the course, to applications in leadership in times of pandemics, disasters, and humanitarian crises.

Course Learning Outcomes

  • Students will develop an understanding of theories, models, approaches, and best practices to leadership in times of crisis
  • As pandemics and disasters cut across cultures and often require a global response of people leading across cultures, students will gain an understanding of how culture influences leadership and develop skills necessary to lead effectively across cultures
  • Students will develop skills to effectively communicate findings from data analysis, predictive models, and data visualization and application of the underlying technical approaches
  • Through a final project, students will have an understanding and be capable of applying research and established frameworks for how information used in real-world crisis and emergency response (e.g., including under resource and time constraints and strain of response)
  • Apply critical thinking and knowledge of theories relevant to leadership in times of crisis to evaluate and critique examples from historic and/or current responses and communicate findings in writing and/or visual presentations

How can I apply this course to my degree program?

  • Computer Engineering: Category F Elective
  • Electrical Engineering: General Technical Elective
  • Fire Protection Engineering: Technical Elective
  • Mechanical Engineering: Out-of-Major Technical Elective
  • Fulfills a minor requirement for sudents in the following minor programs:
    • International Engineering
    • Engineering Leadership Development
    • Global Engineering Leadership
  • Other majors/minors should reach out to their advisors to determine if this course can be applied to their degree program.

Meet Your Instructors

Headshot of Justin KerrDr. Justin Kerr

Dr. Justin Kerr is currently Head of Research at Talus Analytics where he specializes in applying scientific analysis and technology development to homeland security, emergency management, global health security, and public health projects. He leads projects that serve the needs of the Department of Homeland Security, CDC, FEMA, non-profit organizations, healthcare systems, and others focused on public health, disaster resilience, and health security. His approach to applying data analysis and modeling is grounded in real-world experience, having provided analytics support at the FEMA National Response Coordination Center during disaster responses and national-level planning exercises. Drawing on his background in biomedical science, Dr. Kerr leads projects at the intersection of public health preparedness and emergency response. Prior to entering the consulting field, Dr. Kerr was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he conducted research in molecular and cellular neuroscience. Dr. Kerr received his PhD in Neuroscience from University of Maryland School of Medicine where he was named Outstanding PhD Scholar and was awarded a National Research Service Award Grant from NIH to fund his research.

Ramsey JabajiMr. Ramsey Jabaji

Ramsey Jabaji is an associate director and lecturer of Global Leadership in the A. James Clark School of Engineering. He has more than a decade of experience teaching coursework in leadership and higher education administration at the University of Maryland and Georgetown University in locations such as Australia, China, France, The Netherlands, Qatar, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates. He brings to his teaching a global focus and keen interest in helping all students develop capacities for leadership in a globally connected world. In his professional work, he oversees one of the largest engineering abroad programs in the country and he has developed a number of innovative and award-winning global and leadership programs in partnership with colleagues across borders and recognized by several leading higher education associations. In addition, he also oversees the Clark in Madrid program-- a partnership with two top Spanish universities and the A. James Clark School of Engineering which offers a robust international experience for nearly 100 STEM students annually. Ramsey holds bachelor degrees in Sociology and Environmental Studies, a master's in Counseling and Personnel Services, and is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy.


Voices of Leadership in Times of Crisis

This course includes an opportunity to hear directly from individuals in leadership positions who have navigated the challenges which occur in times of crisis. This unique aspect of the course will provide you an opportunity to hear reflections and lessons learned from those who have navigated through pandemics, disasters, and humanitarian crises. Confirmed speakers and bios will be added in the coming weeks.

Headshot of Dr. Ellie Graeden

Dr. Ellie Graeden is the founder and CEO of Talus Analytics, a small research and consulting firm that specializes in complex systems analysis and data visualization to drive leadership decision making in strategy and risk. In addition to her leadership at Talus, she is co-CEO of RedZone Analytics and research faculty (adjunct) with the Georgetown University Center For Global Health Science and Security. She earned a doctorate in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she held a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and earned her Bachelor of Science in microbiology from Oregon State University.

Across her research and consulting career, Dr. Graeden has built a unique approach to data analysis, visualization, and computational modeling that informs policy and practical decision making. Her current efforts include a project supporting the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease at CDC in developing a decision support system for leadership to understand impacts to the health care system in near real-time during the COVID-19 outbreak. In previous efforts, her team worked with FEMA and the Emergency Support Function Leadership Group to identify and characterize the models used for emergency management and in support of the White House National Security Council to coordinate data-driven decision making for public health emergencies. She has led teams funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and deploy public health models for local use in the developing world, built a comprehensive data architecture and visualization platform defining the funding for Global Health Security, presented on the policy gaps for global biological outbreak response to the UN Biological Weapons Convention, and developed an integrated flood risk analysis and community resilience investment planning method funded by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate.

Dr. Graeden was a 2013 Emerging Leader in Biosecurity Initiative (ELBI) Fellow with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellow at MIT.


Register now in Testudo or Contact the Office of Global Engineering Leadership to learn more!


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