DRLA Mission and History

Mission 

The Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) is dedicated to the systematic strengthening of global humanitarian leadership, a process that integrates education, research, and application – to achieve increased resilience in communities and individuals impacted by natural and manmade disasters. Such leadership is guided by the ethics of the Triple Bottom Line: Equity, Environment, and Economy.

The Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy is part of the Tulane School of Social Work. The DRLA's mission of strengthening leadership in communities to address roots causes of vulnerability, such as chronic poverty and social inequality, is very much in line with the School of Social Work's dedication to teaching students about human diversity and the importance of promoting social and environmental justice. 

Although there are many graduate programs that focus on disaster and risk management, none of them targets specifically the role and development of leadership and resilience in producing effective programs or outcomes, making the DRL Academic Program the first with such a dynamic and innovative focus.

The Disaster Resilience Leadership (DRLS) Graduate Program is a broad-based, integrative, and evidence-based graduate program that addresses relationships among the physical environment, the built environment, the social, economic, and political institutions and processes that characterize communities that are vulnerable to disasters. The program applies the knowledge of the context of disasters to leadership that leads to resilient, sustainable, post-disaster communities. The purpose of the DRL Graduate Program is to prepare students for professional careers in: (a) communities that are affected by and vulnerable to disaster destruction and disruption; (b) organizations that focus on all phases of disaster management (preparedness, response, recovery, and risk reduction); and, (c) leadership in organizations and communities that require leadership that promotes resilience.

Interdisciplinary Academic Center 

DRLA is an interdisciplinary academic center with participating faculty from Tulane's School of Social Work, School of Architecture, A.B. Freeman School of Business, School of Law, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the Departments of Mathematics, Economics and Sociology. Collectively, the program faculty work to create a supportive and cooperative academic environment for students. Academy faculty bring a wealth of knowledge and research, as well as field experience, providing students with an interdisciplinary view of the challenges and best practice approaches to leadership in the disaster resilience and humanitarian aid field.

Why Now and Why Tulane University?

The emerging field of Disaster Resilience Leadership is an innovative response developed as a direct result of failures in disaster leadership, including the analysis of Post-Katrina New Orleans. Although there are many graduate programs that focus on disaster and risk management, none of them targets specifically the role and development of leadership and resiliency in producing effective programs or outcomes, making the DRLS Academic Program the first with such an innovative focus. 

Based upon research that the DRLA leadership has conducted with reputational leaders in the field, including leaders from within other premier academic institutions, international organizations, prestigious NGOs, the United Nations, the donor community, think tanks, and the Red Cross movement, it is widely agreed that a systematic and interdisciplinary approach to leadership is widely needed in the community and insufficiently addressed in most academic programs. As Tulane University itself has exhibited such resilience and strength of leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it represents an ideal setting to support such an approach to disaster resilience leadership education and allows students to experience the living laboratory of recovery and resilience that is the city of New Orleans.