ISDR Informs The Americas

Discovering the “Inter-cross-multi-discipline” of Disaster Risk Management

The Disaster Risk Management Postgraduate Seminar, which the University of Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has offered for several years now, has become an important regional yardstick for training human resources to work and play a pivotal role in the area of risk management.

The Napoleonic University, with its rigid compartmentalization of disciplines, is retreating before new multi-disciplinary fields, such as ecology, and the convergence of a various disciplines united by the common goal of disaster risk management.

In this context, the graduation ceremony for the VI Disaster Risk Management Postgraduate Seminar in 2007, which was held on December 5, 2007, featured, as a paradigmatic example, the allusive words of graduate Lt. Col. Julio E. Ruarte:

Dean Juan C. Lucero Schmidt
Academic Secretary, Professor Stella Maris Palermo,
Course Director, Professor Julio Juan Bardi

Esteemed Professors and fellow seminar participants,
Special Guests

“Today’s ceremony is very important for each and every student. In addition to providing a forum to congratulate and recognize the efforts of the university authorities, professors and support staff for having conducted this seminar, for us, the participants, today brings to an end another cycle of studies in our lives.

It has been widely known that, for several years now, USAL has pursued this initiative to address the issue of risk management and disaster reduction as an indicator of educational quality, thereby helping to foster a culture of prevention. In other words, and almost in military terms, USAL evaluated the educational situation, saw a gap and decided, with initiative and determination, to fill that gap and take advantage of it.

We, the VI graduating class of the Disaster Risk Management Postgraduate Seminar, are part of the results of that decision.

It all began in August when we arrived at the university and headed towards the now famous classroom 43 in the School of Philosophy. I remember that the first thing our beloved Professor Bardi said was a strange word: “Inter - cross - multi- disciplinary”. Personally, I have to admit that it was the first time I heard such a term and, just as with all first times, it piqued my curiosity....

Then, there was time for presentations by the students and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that present among us were trained and experienced individuals from many areas: the Civil Defense of Córdoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires; the Ministry of Social Development, the Municipality of San Isidro, the National Prefecture, the National Gendarmerie, the Superintendence of Firefighters of the Federal Police, the Joint High Command of the Armed Forces, the Argentine Navy, the Argentine Army and representatives from the private sector.

At that moment I understood the significance of the word “multidisciplinary” to which Professor Bardi was always referring.

As the weeks and classes went by, professors and students began to get to know each other. At the urging of the former, seminar participants shared their rich experiences with wise, constructive and very detailed comments that often replaced the planned class schedule. This did not concern our seminar director. Indeed he always encouraged that sort of “de facto forum.”

And there I came to grasp the meaning of the word “interdisciplinary”.

During the last classes, examples were given of what each of us had tried to convey, not only in terms of how each organization operated but also how to integrate their various types of capacity to optimize the outcomes.

As I became aware of this, I realized that the “cross-cutting” element had already been achieved… at least at the academic level.

With this brief description I believe I speak for all of my fellow seminar participants when I affirm categorically that USAL has fulfilled its objectives and that we graduates today are delighted to have participated in this process.

We would like to express to the university authorities that this postgraduate seminar has enabled us to grow intellectually and has motivated us to take our new expertise back to our respective workplaces.

As students, we have witnessed the academic and intellectual acumen of the professors and authorities of this university and, even more importantly, we have established professional bonds with you.

Esteemed professors, we thank you for your efforts and dedication in transmitting your knowledge to us.

I would like to thank my colleagues in the 6th graduating class of the seminar on disaster risk management:
• For your kind and constructive company in the classroom and,
• For the opportunity you have given me to represent you as a speaker today. It has been a great honor to prepare these words of farewell.

And the fruitful and beautiful friendship we have built in this university has taught us that, when it comes to disasters, we are all working towards the same goal but often we do not know each other well enough. And this is the reason why this inter-cross-multi-discipline is so important to create a culture of prevention. If we are clear on this concept, we will have done our part to help build a better future for our beloved country. Thank you very much.”

Lt. Col. Julio Ricardo Ruarte speaking on behalf of the participants of the Disaster Risk Management Postgraduate Seminar: