Global synergy links social work and disaster academy

August 20, 2012 5:45 AM

Carol J. Schlueter

Part of Tulane since 1927, the School of Social Work is more globally focused than ever before. Now it can expand its international ties, as the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy joined social work on July 1.


Ron Marks, right, social work dean, welcomes Ky Luu, executive director of the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, to the school’s operations. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Social work dean Ron Marks is happy to embrace the new relationship with DRLA and its executive director, Ky Luu, who came to Tulane in 2009 to develop the academy and train global leaders in disaster risk management.

“We felt DRLA would be truly embraced by our school,” Marks says, “that there would be a synergy, and that there could be shared curriculum moving forward.”

Luu has a $5 million grant to develop a network of leaders trained as disaster specialists in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. He also is leading a master’s program at Tulane in disaster resilience leadership studies that begins its second year this fall and will remain an interdisciplinary program.

DRLA had been part of the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane Law School, but it already had natural ties to social work.

Charles Figley, social work professor and director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute, is director of academic programming for DRLA.

Luu sees “great positive impact” in the collaboration because DRLA works to strengthen leadership in communities “to address root causes of vulnerability, such as chronic poverty, gender and social inequality. That lines up extremely well with the School of Social Work goal to teach students about human diversity and promote social and economic justice.”

Marks adds, “The partner base DRLA brings could really assist us greatly” in expanding internship sites for the growing global social work master’s program, which requires a three-month internship.

On behalf of both his group and social work, Luu says, “There are great synergies in what we’re doing at Tulane, and what we’re doing globally.”


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000