First-Year Odyssey Seminars with IDM

At the Institute for Disaster Management (IDM), we offer three FYO seminars for undergraduate students:

First Year Odyssey Logo

  • A Field Guide to Resilience with Michelle Ritchie (FYOS Teaching Award Winner)
  • The Reality of Disasters with Dr. Curt Harris (Director of IDM)
  • Surviving Disasters with Kelli McCarthy (Disaster Dogs Faculty Advisor)

These courses are typically offered in the fall semester. Course CRNs and offering times are subject to change, so please visit for the most up-to-date information. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

“A Field Guide to Resilience” with Michelle Ritchie

What does nature mean to you? In this engaging FYO seminar, students will explore their environmental ethics and impacts and learn to foster their resilience. Through hands-on activities, discussions, and field-based experiences, students will explore their connections to the natural world — from UGA’s campus to the deepest depths of the oceans! This FYO seminar is designed as an experiential learning companion to Braiding Sweetgrass, a best-selling non-fiction book written by distinguished professor Robin Wall Kimmerer of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Dr. Kimmerer captivatingly blends scientific and Indigenous knowledge in a series of ecological essays that ask us to (re)consider the relationship between humans and the non-human world.

“The Reality of Disasters” with Curt Harris

Disasters are in the eye of the beholder! Wait, that’s not right. This seminar will focus on introducing students to the world of disasters and the difficult decisions faced when trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number. We will begin by defining disasters and the types of people that respond to them. We will then consider the historical context of September 11th, 2001, and its lasting implications on the field of disaster management. We will explore ethical decision-making related to disasters, the importance of communication, and when warning systems fail. Finally, we will show students how to become involved in disaster preparedness at UGA and their respective communities, build go-kits for real-world events, and certify them in Stop-the-Bleed. The lessons are designed to be engaging, interactive, and practical. Students will have the opportunity to meet and hear from campus leaders who work to keep us safe.

“Surviving Disasters” with Kelli McCarthy

Reading through Amanda Ripley’s “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why”, we will explore various disasters, how humans react to disasters, who tends to survive these events, and dive into why. Disasters discussed will be of varying types – natural, technological, and terroristic. These discussions will allow students to self-examine what their response may be when faced with a disaster.


First-Year Odyssey Events with IDM

Ready, Set, Go-Bags!

Students from each FYO meet and present their go-bags during a social event hosted at the IDM. During this event, students also tour IDM facilities, talk with current faculty, staff, and students, and learn about campus and career opportunities in disaster management.


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