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Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Disaster Management)

Key facts

  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Available for international students via distance learning

Help communities respond to disasters

Massey’s Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Disaster Management) will give you an advanced grounding in the theory, practice and application of the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to disaster management.

Find out more about the Master of Sustainable Development Goals parent structure.

What is it like?

The Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Disaster Management) is a new 180-credit taught degree focusing on the theory and practice of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme addresses the most pressing imperative facing humanity and the planet: sustainability. This degree is unique in Australasia. It presents a unique opportunity to showcase Pacific and Indigenous paradigms of sustainability as alternatives to dominant western paradigms.  

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The SDGs are the UN’s ambitious macro-level plan for humankind’s development and sustainability. The goals address global challenges including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. UN member countries, including New Zealand, began to implement the SDGs in 2016; they will run until 2030. The goals are relevant to both “developed” and “developing” countries.

The Master of Sustainable Development Goals (Disaster Management) relates to the economic impact of disasters (SDG 1) and protecting infrastructure (SDG 4, 6 and 9). There is a significant emphasis on building resilient cities (SDG 11) and issues of climate change (SDG 13, 14 and 15). There are opportunities to look at issues of food security (SDG 2) and gender and inclusivity in disasters (SDG 5 and 16).

Follow your interests

You’ll take two core courses in sustainable development. The first will introduce you to theories of sustainable development and the SDGs. The second will focus on multi-disciplinary frameworks, how to measure progress against the SDGs, and paradigms of Indigenous knowledge and practice in the field of sustainability. This will have a strong international flavour.

Then you’ll move on to your endorsement in Disaster Management. Courses cover topics such as coping with disasters, emergency management, emergency management in practice, and natural hazards. Your endorsement will enable you to explain and examine the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework. The Sendai Framework is the UN’s voluntary, non-binding international agreement that aims for the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.

You don’t need any prior knowledge of this subject.

Real-world research

The final 60-credit component of your degree is a research practicum. You’ll identify an agency, corporation or institution with which to work towards policies or practices guided by the SDG framework in disaster management. You’ll then conduct research on and analyse the disaster management work undertaken by that organisation.

Get ready for the workplace

This qualification will give you:

  • the skills to establish appropriate, collaborative working relationships with professionals in the sustainable development sector;
  • an advanced ability to understand and apply the tools and approaches used in the theory and practice of sustainable development under the framework of the SDGs;
  • critical skills to evaluate the success of particular SDGs in their application to particular real-world problems;
  • a sophisticated understanding of alternative frameworks for the successful application of the SDGs; and
  • the ability to reflect critically on multidisciplinary approaches to the SDGs, their interaction with one another, and their application to complex real-world problems.

Study to suit you

The degree will be taught full-time or part-time over three academic periods (trimesters), with contact workshops on one of our three campuses.


Massey’s Sustainable Development Goals Scholarship will support students who plan a career in sustainable development.


Disaster management is taught as part of Massey’s psychology programme. Massey is ranked in the world’s top 300 universities for psychology by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking.

Master of Sustainable Development Goals: Disaster Management

A good fit if you:

  • Have a degree in any subject
  • Want to address sustainability problems facing both people and planet
  • Seek skills in helping communities to prepare for and recover from disasters
  • Are interested in alternatives to the dominant western paradigm


There is strong demand in the global marketplace for workers with the requisite new skills to translate, implement, monitor and report on the SDGs.

The SDGs are already facing challenges on how the goals’ macro-level aspirations, collected through multiple rounds of global consultation, will be translated into everyday community, health, education, and workplace settings.

Employees with the skills to implement and measure progress against the SDGs are much in demand in both public and private organisations.

With increased global vulnerability to natural hazards and disasters, there is a demand for more skilled emergency managers. With this qualification you could be sought-after in the emergency management and other allied fields such as civil defence, business management, policy analysis and health.

Lecturer profile

Professor David Johnston

Disaster Management

David Johnston is a Professor of Disaster Management. His research focuses on human responses to volcano, tsunami, earthquake and weather warnings, crisis decision-making and the role of public education and participation in building community resilience and recovery. In 2016 he became Co-chair of World Meteorological Organisation’s High Impact Weather Project Steering Group.

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