Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. David Cochran

Committee Chair School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. Joslyn Zale

Committee Member 2 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. George Raber

Committee Member 3 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Given the exposure of university campuses to hazards, disaster mitigation is a critical element of higher education policy. Although U.S. higher education institutions are leaders in the global education market, emergency warning systems give little consideration to how international students perceive risk, prepare for hazards, or access warning technologies available to them. This poses several questions regarding the suitability of hazards mitigation practices and the welfare of international students.

This thesis investigates the relationship between USM international students and natural hazards. Responses from online surveys and semi-structured interviews data were analyzed through qualitative and quantitative methods to document the extent to which being an international student influences the way one deals with natural hazards and risk communication.

Results show that most international students perceive their exposure to hazards but almost half of them do not know appropriate responses. Likewise, the majority do not have emergency plans. Despite these shortcomings, the overwhelming majority of international students support the idea of the university providing hazards mitigation training to them. Statistical analysis identified that variations in gender, academic degree, previous experience, age, world region and length of residency all play significant roles in how international students relate to hazards. These corroborate a recent study by Abukhalaf and von Meding (2020), who recommended that university communication plans must accommodate the diversity of student populations and should be able to account for differences in the behavior of subgroups before, during, and after disasters.