SUNY New Paltz now offers minor in disaster studies
NEW PALTZ -- The State University of New York at New Paltz is now offering a minor in disaster studies through the Institute for Disaster Mental Health. The minor focuses on training people to deal with natural, technological and human-induced disasters and on how these events affect individuals, communities, organizations and the nation.
"The terrorist bombings in London, the hurricanes in Florida, and the recent floods in Ulster and Orange counties remind us that disasters are not uncommon and can occur anywhere and anytime," said Dr. James Halpern, director of the institute and professor of psychology at New Paltz. "The minor in disaster studies provides students with both scholarship and training to prepare for, and to respond to, disaster. This experience can be helpful to students interested in careers in emergency services, or who simply want to be good citizens."
Halpern, who has responded to both local and national disasters as a member of the Disaster Mental Health Services function of the American Red Cross, said that the program is designed to recognize the multi-disciplinary nature of both research and practice in disaster studies with courses that highlight scholarship and practice related to disaster and trauma mitigation and prevention; response; support; recovery; treatment; policy formulation and planning.
Working in collaboration with SUNY New Paltz professionals and community leaders, the institute offers education and training in disaster mental health, including conferences and workshops that reflect recent research and best practices.
Since its founding in September 2004, the institute has trained almost 100 community members and SUNY New Paltz students and faculty in responding to disaster. More than 35 undergraduate students are now trained in disaster response, mass care following disaster and an overview of disaster mental health. These students are certified by the American Red Cross to offer assistance under Red Cross auspices.
The institute also features a yearly conference where, in 2006 they are planning a five-year commemoration of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, including keynote talks and professional workshops on the emotional health legacies of that tragic event.
Halpern was among the first mental health professionals to offer support in NYC on Sept. 11, 2001.
The institute is guided by an advisory board of experienced and committed professionals and community leaders active in fields directly related to the work of the institute. The board assists in identifying community and professional needs for disaster mental health training; identifying funding sources; and disseminating the institute's work to the public.
Former Dean of the Graduate School at SUNY New Paltz, Phyllis R. Freeman, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, serves as the first chair of the advisory board. Other board members include:
SUNY New Paltz
- Pamlyn Atkins, Ph.D.- Director, Psychological Counseling Center
- Gerald Benjamin, Ph.D.- Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- Maryalice Citera, Ph.D.- Chair, Department of Psychology
- James Halpern, Ph.D.- Institute Director, Professor of Psychology
- Marshall Beckman, MPA- Director, Ulster County Mental Health Department, Kingston, NY
- Paul L. Brown, Ph.D.- Board Secretary- Professor Emeritus, SUNY New Paltz
- Lauren Ginsberg, L.C.S.W.- Director of Health and Mental Health, Greater New York, American Red Cross, New York City
- Karen B. Jacobs- Management Consultant (retired), New Paltz
- Margaret Kirchner Dillon- former Commissioner of Social Services, Orange County
- Arthur J. Lange- Health and Safety Coordinator, Orange/Ulster BOCES, Middletown
- Bill McCarthy- Director of Disaster Services, American Red Cross of Ulster County, Kingston
- Joseph Reilly- Regional Director, New York State Office of Mental Health, Hudson River Psychiatric Center, Poughkeepsie
- Barbara Scherr - Educator (retired), President, Inspire Cerebral Palsy Center, Goshen, NY, Vice-President of Volunteers, NYS Cerebral Palsy
- Angela Skretta-Huck- Director, Emergency Preparedness, Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association & Healthcare Foundation, Newburgh
For more information about the institute, visit www.newpaltz.edu/idmh.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.