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Field, discipline, and profession: Understanding three major labels of emergency management

Heriberto Urby, PhD, JD, David A. McEntire, PhD


The “field,” “discipline,” and “profession”—three major labels of emergency management—have often been interchanged as if any of these define the others. In this work, the authors examine these major labels to provide meaning, explanation, and application to each one based on the emergency management literature currently available. The authors accomplish this by the following: 1) defining and describing the established field's progression through the years; 2) examining how close we are to a discipline in today's emergency management arena; 3) discussing the advancement to becoming a profession; and 4) providing recommendations for the future. Clarifying these three major labels, the development of the field into a formidable and mature discipline as well as a distinguished and noble profession may be hastened.


emergency management, disaster professionalism, evolution of EM field

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