University Announces Joint Initiative with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction

Jersey City, N.J. April 10, 2014 – Saint Peter’s University today announced a joint initiative with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Department of Political Science. Through this initiative, undergraduate students will have the opportunity to enroll in a training program on global development strategies and disaster risk reduction with the United Nations. Saint Peter’s has the first undergraduate program in the country to be involved in this type of initiative. To mark the official beginning of this joint venture, a public lecture and panel titled, “500 Days After Sandy: Investing for a Safer Tomorrow,” will be held on Tuesday, April 15.

The UNISDR initiative with Saint Peter’s began with the launch of a new Political Science course in spring 2014 titled, “Development and Disaster Risk Reduction.” Undergraduate students enrolled in the course have the opportunity to participate in three-hour training modules with the United Nations. Additionally, during their coursework, students visit Sandy-affected areas in the Jersey Shore and Long Island to engage with mayors, local governments and city officials to sign-on the UNISDR’s “Making Cities Resilient” global campaign. As an international community of practice, the campaign addresses issues of local governance, disaster preparedness, information sharing and urban risk.

“Our students witnessed the disastrous effects of Hurricane Sandy firsthand,” said Alexander Mirescu, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science at Saint Peter’s University. “Resilience and the ability to build back have become imperative for local governments, businesses and residents. This joint initiative with UNISDR has produced tremendous opportunities for our students to get involved and become a part of an effective disaster risk campaign. We look forward to welcoming H.E. Margareta Wahlström to help us kick-off the initiative.”

The kick-off event on Tuesday, April 15 will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in The Duncan Family Sky Room of the Mac Mahon Student Center at Saint Peter’s University. H.E. Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General and head of UNISDR, will serve as a speaker at the event. She will discuss how to reduce disaster risk and the “Making Cities Resilient” campaign. Wahlström will also participate in a panel discussion with key stakeholders, students in the disaster risk reduction course and a private sector interests.

Wahlström serves as the first Special Representative for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She has extensive experience in both disaster relief operations and disaster risk management within the United Nations system and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. As head of the UNISDR, Wahlström is in charge of supporting the implementation of the “Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters” throughout the world.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Political Science and the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter’s University.

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