By Dr. Kathleen Shriver and Dr. Shelley Pumphrey
Faculty Members, Business Administration

Starting this month, the Wallace E. Boston School of Business will launch new certificate and degree programs in operational crisis management to help business leaders and their employees in all industries to respond to crises. These programs involve gaining business crisis management skills that are much in demand by employers.

According to Price Waterhouse Cooper’s (PwC) most recent Global Crisis Survey, for instance, nearly seven in 10 leaders (69%) have experienced at least one corporate crisis in the last five years in their companies. In addition, the average number of crises experienced in these firms is greater than three, and this number will continue to grow as companies struggle with the business challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Do These New Operational Crisis Management Programs Offer to Students?

The operational crisis management undergraduate and graduate-level degrees and certificates offer an array of courses that are not offered at any other university. The courses that the School of Business will offer in these programs include:

  • Risk mitigation and recovery
  • Sustainability
  • Business continuity
  • Crisis management and artificial intelligence
  • Case studies

Courses will be available in both the undergraduate level and graduate level degree programs. Also, certificate programs at both levels will allow students to transfer the certificate’s course credits to a degree program if they decide to pursue an academic degree.

Employers in all industries look for competent individuals who have crisis management and sustainability skills and who can identify the potential for crises and ways to mitigate business threats. Business sustainability and competitiveness depend on the stability of resources and the continuity of operations.

Business students taking these organizational crisis management programs will develop their knowledge and abilities to solve complex business problems and analyze how parts of the organization interact to avoid, mitigate, or respond to a crisis event. In addition, students will develop business continuity and sustainability plans and complete a business impact statement analysis. They will also evaluate the best uses of artificial intelligence (AI), research current case studies of company crises and learn the best ways to communicate with stakeholders in an organization.

Overall, the new courses will allow business students to study crisis management in business operations in depth and build on a strong knowledgebase. Students in various industries will be better prepared to:

  • Outline the methods for protecting the various components of a business, as well as how to proceed when their company experiences a crisis
  • Assess the impact of a crisis on an organization’s employees, customers, suppliers and the general public
  • Understand the sustainability of a company’s value
  • Identify potential internal and external crises
  • Provide insight on how businesses can use AI to prepare to face crises and challenges
  • Manage employee stress during a crisis

The Pandemic Has Created an Unpredictable Future for Businesses

The crisis management field is growing, and we are prepared to help business leaders and their employees address new challenges, especially during the current pandemic. Because a crisis generally arises without notice and can cause major disturbances at the workplace, leaders and managers have important roles in handling a crisis in an organization.

In 2019, CEOs predicted an increased demand for crisis management and business continuity knowledge across all industries, especially as more organizations realize that one incident could result in a business closure. Our program offerings support business sustainability; they will help to prepare students with the knowledge and tools employers seek to avoid and mitigate the impact of potential crises.

Our Response to Future Business Challenges

The university was a leader in online education even before the pandemic. Working with business leaders with real-world expertise, we proactively develop courses and programs to meet the shifting needs of future industries. In a recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value, Workforce Safety and Security scored 92% on executive agendas, demonstrating the corporate world’s recognition for this type of subject matter to be taught.

In any business or industry, the potential for a crisis should be addressed. It is important to be proactive in planning rather than reactive if a crisis occurs; these new program courses will help our students to more easily meet future business challenges for their employers.

About the Authors

Dr. Kathleen Shriver is an associate professor in the School of Business at American Public University. She holds an M.B.A. in management with a minor in computer information systems from Baker College and a D.B.A. in financial management from Northcentral University. Dr. Shriver has over 40 years of experience and has been an online instructor at the university since 2010, mentoring students in business, management, and leadership courses, primarily at the graduate levels. 

Dr. Shelley Pumphrey is an academic and business leader with over 20 years of teaching experience in technology and business courses at a variety of colleges and universities. She has held a variety of leadership positions in business and non-profit organizations and served over 30 years in the energy industry. Dr. Pumphrey earned her Ph.D. in information security and published in the areas of alternative fuels, information security, and artificial intelligence.



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