Rethinking Readiness to 21st Century Disasters

A segmented bus sits atop the collapsed Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA

A city bus was among the vehicles that fell when the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed this year in Pittsburgh, PA

Photo by James Anderson, NTSB

Event Details

Friday, March 11, 2022
3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Eastern
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Pacific

This event will be conducted virtually, and is open to the public.

Connection Details

Passcode: 829121

To Connect by telephone:

+1 669 254 5252 (San Jose)
+1 646 828 7666 (New York)
Webinar ID: 160 827 4808

Additional domestic and international numbers

About the Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that despite our advances, we remain vulnerable to age old disasters such as pandemics. And at the same time, we also find ourselves dealing with increasing impacts from climate change. Crumbling infrastructure, increasing technological advances with insufficient security, and the specter of terrorism and armed conflict all continue to impact our world as well. However, amidst these compounding challenges, we also have more knowledge available to us than ever before as to the causes of disasters and the nature for our vulnerabilities. In this presentation, Jeff Schlegelmilch, Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and author of Rethinking Readiness: A Brief Guide to Twenty-First-Century Megadisasters, will discuss how human development is contributing the threats and vulnerabilities that we are facing, and how we can reset these trajectories towards a more just and resilient future for us all.

This event is presented by the Disaster Research and Analysis Program (DRAP) of the RAND Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC). HSOAC is a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) that conducts studies and analysis for federal sponsors. The DRAP webinar series was created to increase understanding in how disaster policies can affect the ability of communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from, disasters.


a photo of Jeff Schlegelmilch

Jeff Schlegelmilch

Director, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia Climate School, at Columbia University; Research Scholar

Jeff Schlegelmilch is a Research Scholar and the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia Climate School, at Columbia University. In this role he oversees the operations and strategic planning for the center. Before becoming director, he served as the center's deputy director for more than five years. He also oversees projects related to the practice and policy of disaster preparedness, including the multi-award winning Resilient Children / Resilient Communities Initiative. His areas of expertise includes public health preparedness, community resilience and the integration of private and public sector capabilities. Prior to his work at Columbia, he was the Manager for the International and Non-Healthcare Business Sector for the Yale New Haven Health System Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response. He was also previously an epidemiologist and emergency planner for the Boston Public Health Commission. He has advised leaders on preparedness systems and policy at all levels of government. He is an Opinion Contributor with The Hill and is frequently utilized as a subject matter expert for numerous media outlets. He is also the author of Rethinking Readiness: A brief guide to twenty-first-century megadisasters published by Columbia University Press. He holds a Master's degree in Public Health from UMASS Amherst in Health Policy and Management, and a Master's degree in Business Administration from Quinnipiac University.


For questions about the event, contact Kristin Sereyko at