Disaster Management

Course Description: 

Natural and technological hazards affect the everyday life as well as long-term development plans. For many decades the prevailing approach in dealing with disasters was focus on response and recovery, however lately pre-disaster actions to minimize the disaster risks are encouraged.

The course introduces Disaster Management, focusing on natural disasters. The problem is addressed in a holistic cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary manner, including all stages of disaster management cycle: mitigation, preparation, response and recovery. Starting with theory, main definitions and concepts, the course considers other aspects of Disaster Management cycle, such as International Agreements, impact of climate change and urbanization on severity and extent of disasters, case studies of disaster management on national and local levels, some DRR technologies. Some of the topics will be covered by practitioners from corresponding international and national organizations (such as UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery and UN Office for Outer Space Affairs). Special attention will be paid to information and communication technologies aimed at collecting, processing and analyzing spatial data for better decision-making in disaster risk management. The course will feature a day long field trip to UN-SPIDER (United Nations Platform for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) Headquarters in Vienna.

To pass the course all students (grade and audit) will be required to develop and present an individual course project on disaster management topic of their choice. In case number of registered students exceeds the course cap, the priority in registration will be given to to these taking the course for grade.

The number of students is limited to 15.

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Understanding foundations of hazards, disasters and associated natural/social phenomena
  • Familiarity with disaster management theory (cycle, phases)
  • Knowledge about existing global frameworks and existing agreements  (e.g. Sendai)
  • Methods of community involvement as an essential part of successful DRR
  • Humanitarian Assistance before and after disaster
  • Technological innovations in Disaster Risk Reduction: Advantages and problems
  • Experience on conducting independent DM study including data search, analysis and presentation of disaster case study

The evaluation is based upon student’s performance using the following two criteria:

  • Class participation (20%): active student participation in class discussions is expected and encouraged; evidence of reading the assigned texts; minor home tasks.
  • Final individual written assignment (60%) and project presentation (20%): course project in a form of a case study, assessing the country’s (or region’s, or city’s) current disaster management system, if relevant in a context of a recent natural disaster event (5,000 words).