CSSU Study School: 'Experiential Learning in Disaster and Development Communication'

CSSU Study School: 'Experiential Learning in Disaster and Development Communication'

Professor Andrew Collins

Series Name Civil Safety and Security Unit/Institute of Lifelong Learning
Speaker Professor Andrew Collins
Type Lectures & Talks
When 23 Sep 2013, 05:00PM - 06:00PM
Venue Garendon Hall, 4th Floor, Charles Wilson Building
Open To Public
Ticket Price Free
For Bookings Contact Miles Lane : mtl6@le.ac.uk Nibedita Ray-Bennett : nsrb1@le.ac.uk

Study School for MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management (23-24th September 2013) .

Abstract: Awareness that disaster and development phenomena besetting the world are fundamentally interlinked is as old as notions of development itself. We both prevent and react to manifested disasters through development actions. Meanwhile disasters impact on development progress and prospects.

There has however been less evidence that people and institutions have adapted sufficiently to development as a process of learning for change or transformation. Increasingly, we are confronted with scholarly works, evaluations of practice and lessons learnt exercises that suggest learning in this field is slow or even entirely curtailed. There is therefore a growing interest in this field as to how learning might best take place in disaster and development settings. In this session I raise the issue that whilst human development has proven to both reduce and enhance human survivability, it is unclear the extent to which experiential learning successfully guides decision-making for reduced disaster risk.

Learning from actions in disaster and development contexts is governed by structural and cultural influences experienced. This presents challenges and opportunities for learning and communicating disaster if hazards, risks, vulnerabilities, capacities and other resiliencies are not learnt relative to immediate existential contexts alone. Furthermore, a complex future brings the unknown. An argument is therefore that progress in this field both theoretically and in practice also requires variable, subjective and often more intuitive interpretation, a knowledge of that which may not be experientially learnt. Whilst non-experiential learning challenges a field demanding reduced uncertainty and improved risk management, unknown futures can require decision making on the essence of an understanding. Empiricism, though fundamental, on its own is inadequate for future risk reduction planning. Making the right decisions can be based on improved consciousness.


Andrew’s research interests are the theoretical, methodological and policy aspects of disaster reduction, health ecology, sustainable development, climate change adaptation and human security. This engages interlinked issues of environment and society, population displacement, risk, governance, education, environmental and disaster management. He joined Northumbria University Department of Geography and Environmental Management in 1997, led the establishment of the world’s first disaster management and sustainable development postgraduate programme launched in 2000, the Disaster and Development Centre (DDC) launched 2004 and the Disaster and Development Network (DDN) launched 2013. He supervises a community of PhD students spanning the disaster and development field also coordinating a wide ranging group of global affiliates. His work has been active in more than 20 countries. Andrew’s orientation in this field developed through his early exposure to regions undergoing combinations of environmental and human crisis including initial years of voluntary service in wartime Mozambique. Beyond the academy he serves on high level advisory and peer review boards at national and global level, research funding bodies and comments for the media.

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