Course description

As the worlds struggles with COVID-19 show, crises challenge individuals and organizations to respond creatively to high-stakes and novel circumstances. Today not only traditional emergency responders (police, firefighters, and emergency medical teams) must be ready for crises, but also private and nonprofit organizations, as well as a wider spectrum of public sector responders (for example, public health, transportation, and public works). Through study of cases of a range of actual crises and of conceptual frameworks for understanding the dynamics of crises, this course takes a managerial perspective on crisis management and emergency preparedness. It focuses both on what responders must do during the critical period of crisis response and on how organizations can prepare themselves for high performance in these situations. It examines how individuals and groups make decisions in crises, identifies the skills and management systems crises demand, considers the differences between managing routine emergencies and crises, and asks how organizations can effectively prepare for crises in advance.


  • Executive Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation; Co-Director, Program on Crisis Leadership; and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
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