Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Claudia L. Edwards

Second Supervisor

Janet B. Lyons


This qualitative case study gathered perceptions from alumni, clients, and professors to gain insight into how essential client-based service learning is to the preparedness of emergency management professionals enrolled in the Masters in Public Administration Emergency and Disaster Management program at the Metropolitan College of New York. Criteria for participant selection included employment as emergency managers, three to five years of experience in the field of emergency management, and past direct involvement in a major disaster event. Data was captured using individual in-depth interviews of 13 participants. Two focus groups were utilized: one comprised three faculty members in the role of project manager, and the second comprised three former clients who took part in client-based service learning projects with the college. Two field observations were conducted at client sites to examine the service learning process. Analysis yielded six emergent themes: the development of skills/knowledge, theory to practice, client commitment and engagement, client-based service-learning benefits, reflective thinking, and networking opportunities. Findings offer insight into current delivery practices, strengths of the program, and the challenges needed to address institutions of higher education offering emergency management programs. Recommendations include enhancing networking capabilities for students through client-based service learning, incorporating reflective thinking methods, building leadership capacity through course development using leadership theories, building leadership capacity through client-based learning projects and other experiential learning methods, enhancing client recommendations by implementing a request for proposal process, and ensuring client commitment for client-based service learning projects. Research on a larger scale is recommended to increase the generalizability of the results reported.

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