The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), Columbia Climate School, at Columbia University, works to understand and improve the capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. NCDP focuses on the readiness of governmental and non-governmental systems, the complexities of population recovery, the power of community engagement, and the risks of human vulnerability.

About NCDP (PDF)

Through Education and Training, Research, Policy, and Practice NCDP focuses on:

Disasters are complex events. Our capacity to respond to a disaster depends on the ability of numerous response systems to work together. The ability of systems to respond effectively in the immediate and long-term aftermath of a disaster is the product of many factors: organizational policies and practices, encompassing both the public and private sectors; sufficient information gained through situational awareness, robust early warning systems, and comprehensive communication strategies; significant preparedness and training; appropriate resources; and the capacity to innovate at a moment’s notice. NCDP researches the dynamics of emergency response systems and the policies and practices in place. 

Since NCDP’s founding in 2003, NCDP has provided professional training for more than 100,000 learners through web-based, instructor-led, and virtual training. Current training programs for the whole community focus on mass care community sheltering and relocation assistance, pandemic preparedness and response, climate literacy and equity, post-disaster economic and housing recovery, and individual and household preparedness. Trainings include collaborative activities, planning tools, tool kits, case studies, and geographic information system resources that learners can incorporate into their work practices.

NCDP places a high priority on community outreach — working with the community we serve and providing an assessment of the post-disaster environment and consultation on immediate services that could meet the needs of affected and underserved populations. NCDP actively supports community-engaged programming by working with community agencies and area non-profit groups to improve citizen readiness, prepare the community for disasters, and increase awareness about disasters and other emergencies. NCDP supports community preparedness through technical assistance, training and education programs, drills and exercise support, and planning guidance for public health emergency preparedness and response activities. In addition to practice-based community engagement, NCDP researchers regularly employ techniques that support, inform, and drive pre- and post-disaster research by recognizing the value of local knowledge.

With the increased impacts of climate change, we can expect to see more disasters due to extreme hazards and growing vulnerability to those hazards. As with other disasters, historically underserved communities are disproportionately at risk. Vulnerable populations also include those managing physical and/or mental health conditions, cognitive impairments, and individuals dependent upon assistive devices or complex medical regimens to survive. NCDP has focused attention on understanding what makes certain individuals and groups vulnerable, considering how vulnerability varies by the disaster’s phase and by social circumstances, and exploring the relationship between vulnerability and recovery.

DEIA Statement

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) is committed to abiding by and realizing a set of collaboratively developed guiding principles to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism (DEIA). We acknowledge these statements are part of the transformational change necessary within the fields of academia and disaster management, in which we recognize a key role of NCDP.

DEIA Guiding Principles


We seek to raise understanding and awareness, through our research, policy, and practice, about the inequities further exposed and widened by disasters.


We recognize the historical barriers and inherent challenges communities face, imposed through systemic oppression and racism, which must guide our approach in all that we do.


We seek to elevate community perspectives and voices into broader dialogues with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery stakeholders.


We aim to provide evidence-based strategies and approaches to reduce inequities before, during, and after disasters strike.


We value and embrace diversity and mutual respect both internally and externally among the people and organizations with whom we work.


We acknowledge that Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism (DEIA) are a shared responsibility. All personnel, students, and other internal and external partners have a role in advancing DEIA goals and values.