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Visualizing the Invisible: Application of Knowledge Domain Visualization to the Longstanding Problem of
Disciplinary and Professional Conceptualization in Emergency and Disaster Management
Joseph G. Martin III
Volume: 88 pages
ISBN-13: 9781612334288 –
My thesis has been published!
It is now available as a PDF/E-Book on Dissertation.com for the low, low, price of $24. Act now and I will throw in not only 1 Thesis, but I will give you……..
Actually, if anyone asks me nicely I would most likely send you a copy for free. Just remember to cite the work properly. I am more than happy just to see it published: I will try to make a fortune and fund my retirement from the next book….
The great physicist Niels Bohr once said something to the effect that anyone who didn’t come away from reading about quantum mechanics with their head spinning probably hadn’t understood it properly. I have found that, in addition to quantum mechanics, any significant time spent thinking about the nature of disciplines and how best to describe Disaster Studies and Sciences in terms of disciplinarity, also tends to make my head spin.
There is at the moment no shortage of descriptors for disciplinarity: unidisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, crossdisciplinary, metadisciplinary, hyperdisciplinary, superdisciplinary, supradisciplinary, and transdisciplinary can all be found in the literature. Despite the multitude of terms, no clear, consistent, and agreed typology currently exists. So one has an veritable ocean of ideas within which to swim about. Or drown in.
Of course, there is much that is historical, sociological, political, economic, and just flat out arbitrary in the development of academic and professional “disciplines.” The quest for knowledge using systematic methods predates any attempts to make the pursuit of that knowledge the primary domain of particular individuals. So to some extent in trying to develop a logical, coherent conception of academic, scientific, and professional disciplines, we are trying to logically explain what was originally created without logic, or “big picture” in mind.
This does not mean that the concept of disciplines is of no value. It means that a degree of fuzziness and inconsistency in our concepts should be expected.
In my thesis, I assert that based upon the existence and structure of its body of knowledge, what is often referred to as “Emergency Management” involves far more disciplines than recognized. I suggest that this field/discipline is more accurately called Disaster Studies and Sciences (DSS). I am beginning to see, however, that simply calling DSS a “discipline” is more problematic. DSS is certainly not unidisciplinary and does not fit within any traditional disciplinary map of knowledge, yet it does have an organized structure. There can be no doubt that DSS is multidisciplinary but it does not appear to transcend its individual disciplines to the level of an interdiscipline or transdiscipline….
And this is the point where my head starts to hurt and I begin to think that some part of the puzzle is just out of reach…..
For quite some time I have been searching for a way to convert Scopus bibliographic data into Web of Science format, so I could run it through CiteSpace II. I am still looking.
In the process, however I decided to see if I could run Scopus data through another visualization program, VOSviewer. Unfortunately, that will not quite do what I want with the Scopus dataset I have. Then I had an interesting idea: run the thesis data through VOSviewer. VOSviewer is not a progressive KDViz program, so it does not show the development of the network over time. But it does offer more choices in finding clusters, and offers some different ways to visualize the data. I am still learning the program but thought I would post some of my initial visualizations. Considering the data is being processed by two different visualization programs, I believe the organization of the networks seem in fairly good agreement with the visualizations of CiteSpace II.
The blog title alludes to one of the classic koans of Zen Buddhism: “If you meet the Buddha on the road you must kill him.”
First, let me make clear: I am not advocating violence, and I have nothing against the Buddha. Secondly, let me also point out, for reasons that will soon become apparent: I love FEMA, and believe it has done, and continues to do, much to support and further the field of emergency management in our country. I hope anyone from FEMA who might be reading this will keep that in mind, especially should I apply for a grant someday…. I have used this particular koan because, in my mind, its sentiment is appropriate for a discussion of the relationship between FEMA and emergency management in the U.S., particularly in regards to EM’s dream of one day growing up from an occupation into a profession.
In my interpretation of the Zen saying (which I don’t claim is necessarily the right one, or the best), to reach the ultimate goal you must find your own identity, and follow your own path. You must find your independence. On the road to professionalization, EM has met FEMA on the road. Rather than kill it, EM appears to have decided to hitch a ride in FEMA’s car. You may disagree that EM is too dependent upon FEMA for support and direction. Perhaps I am being rather harsh. About six months ago I probably would have agreed, as I had not given much thought to the relationship of EM and FEMA, and its effect upon professionalization. This changed when I started research into the EM body of knowledge and made a startling discovery. If you open the study guide for IAEM’s certification exam, page 4 provides some study advice:
“”‘Brush up’ on basic emergency management
A listing of publications from which all exam
questions were derived is included on the
back of this brochure.”
Turning to pages 16-17 (for the U.S. version), I found that the list was composed entirely of FEMA online courses and a couple of pieces of key legislation. No books. No journal articles. No conference papers. No government reports (e.g. A Failure of Initiative). Even though we now have undergraduate and graduate programs in EM, it appears that all you really need to know of professional EM is contained in the FEMA independent study catalog.
This is just one example of how intertwined EM and FEMA have become, but there are many other examples, and it is not limited to FEMA.
Is this a problem? If EM wants to become a profession then it might be. An important characteristic of professions many writers have identified is autonomy. (Cwiak 2009b). At the top of the professional pyramid, fields like law, medicine, and more recently clinical psychology, have unparalleled autonomy and independence in deciding the requirements and standards for admittance, education, training, practice, license, ethics, and discipline. Their practitioners exercise independent judgement that is expected to be based on the current state of knowledge, and to be in the best interests of those that depend on their services. What do these professions (and many others) also have?: strong national associations (AMA, Bar Association, and APA) to govern and advance their professions. They do not need the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Department of Justice to help them in matters that pertain to their professions. Professions are supposed to shape themselves-they don’t ask for the government’s help. When necessary, professions, through their associations, will actively oppose the proposed actions of government.
EM in the U.S. has two main national associations. Yet it is the unofficial third association-FEMA, that to my own untrained eye, seems to play a greater role in promoting and advancing the development of the occupation (including endorsing and providing EM-related educational materials for use in colleges and universities) than either of the other two. But government has its own interests and agendas. Even when provided with the best of intentions, an agency’s “helpfulness” (particularly when that agency is a provider of important resources, grant funding, and employment to those it is helping…) can bring risks to objectivity, expression of alternative viewpoints, independence, and credibility. EM in the U.S., because of its history, evolutionary path, and nature of its work, has already developed a high affinity for seeing things through the eyes of civil service, public safety, and government. The significant involvement of government agencies in the development of the field may serve to reinforce some of these tendencies to the expense of growth, evolution, and innovation.
This makes me very uneasy, but maybe it is just me seeing things that aren’t there. I hope so.