As we prepare for the 38th Annual ASFPM Conference, we have arrived at a watershed moment for floodplain management. With the soon to be created Master’s degree with Concentration in Floodplain Management at the University of Washington, an existing Associate’s degree aimed at training USGS hydrologic technicians at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, the excellent floodplain management courses at the Emergency Management Institute, and now a Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in Floodplain Management at Western Kentucky University our profession is coming of age. The latter will be available for students this Fall semester. It features required courses in hydrology, surveying, floodplain management, a field experience course, GIS, political science, journalism, geography, and geology and will be the first U.S. 4-year degree in floodplain management. Prior to 1982 there were no U.S. degree programs in Emergency Management and Planning. The first was created in 1982 and today there are more than 200 Associates, Bachelor’s, and graduate degree programs available in EM&P. We hope that floodplain management follows this same pattern. We feel these programs are filling a critical need since a recent study predicts that flood losses world-wide will reach $1T annually by 2050.
With these accomplishments, our work has only just begun. Those programs need students, scholarships, research opportunities, and funding to encourage faculty to participate in this important vision. Spread the word. We need to create on-line courses so that professionals working in this field can pursue degrees. We need to encourage other colleges and universities to create similar programs. We have taken the first step, but we face a long journey. It is time to saddle up.
Hall Professor of Civil Engineering
Co-Chair ASFPM Higher Education Policy Committee