Coping with Disasters

Elective Course | 4 ECTS | Course: CRD 19

Instructor: Uta Reichardt

Course Catalog Description

About the Course

The goal of my course is pretty much out there in the title: "Coping with Disasters" will give an introduction to the basic concepts in Disaster Risk Management and look at how disasters form in the first place - and what determines resilience and coping when hardship strikes. We will be working with case studies and group works and, in addition to literature, will use a combination of mixed media, such as podcasts, documentaries and art work. There will be a disaster film club and the odd field trip!

Instructor

I´m a post-doc at the Institute for Sustainability Studies, University of Iceland, and explore the synergies that emerge from the dialogue between science and arts. I view sustainability development through the lens of disaster risk reduction and look at the role of Art and Design regarding preparedness, relief and recovery from disastrous events. I enjoy making people from different backgrounds meet and join their forces. Currently, I´m involved in Out of Sync, an exploration of novel performance event formats during and beyond the pandemic, and recently co-founded Disaster Studios, a platform that joins Design and Disaster Risk Management and emphasises evidence-based design solutions and creative ways for disaster risk reduction.

This will be my first course to teach at UW and I couldn´t be more excited!

Description

The course introduces factors that influence a society's resilience which is the ability to recover and bounce back after a disastrous event. It bridges disciplines to provide a multifaceted understanding of societal ability to withstand a crisis, on the individual, community, infrastructural and institutional level. It presents students to the main concepts of disaster research, drawing from the fields of earth sciences, environmental studies, sociology, health sciences, psychology and cultural studies. The course addresses monitoring, early warning, planning and exercises as means to mitigate the impact of natural hazards. It covers factors important in dealing with the aftermath of an extreme event. These include the role of psychological first aid, communication, media, art and spirituality in coping with hardship, tragedies and trauma.

On completion of the course, a student:

  • can explain basic definitions and processes in disaster management.
  • can assess the factors that make populations vulnerable to hazards and contribute to shape disasters.
  • can critically discuss the complexities of coping mechanisms and the factors that contribute to societal resilience on different levels.
  • can develop and write a crisis communication strategy.
  • can develop and present a disaster response concept to support coping in a post-disaster community.