Global thinkers on disasters – a scholarship project

The idea to develop a list of #scholars who have been contributing to #disaster studies in the last 70 years started during my PhD year at UNU-EHS in Bonn ten years ago. My exchanges with folks doing disaster studies pushed me to believe that many are not aware of the field. Spending about 5 years in Indonesia in disaster management field (2000-2007), I realised that many practitioners have very little ideas about the evolution of the field.

So, I used to raise this idea with RADIX group and provided some early list of some 50 people. The responses were mixed as many believe that the field of disaster studies should be an inclusive interdisciplinary field. True. Since 2005, the field seemed to be regaining its path in the global knowledge system as more and more knowledge has been produced by many beyond the contribution of the early arrivals [See list below].

Disaster Management studies or simply disaster studies is an interdisciplinary branch of science comprising of more than 50 branches of sciences ranging from social science, humanities, environment, psychology, economics, business, technology, actuarial sciences, geology, civil engineering, health and medical sciences, political science, natural sciences etc. Based on some calculation, the field has recently turned 60-70 years. [See David McEntire Ed. 2007. Disciplines, Disasters and Emergency Management : The Convergence and Divergence of Concepts, Issues and Trends From the Research Literature].

To most of students, there is still lack of knowledge of who are the key thinkers in the field. So, since my landing at CDU Australia in 2016 as a Senior Lecture in Emergency and Disaster Management, I started a small project with the students in 2017. The crux of the plan was a peer to peer learning among the students. The good news is 33 students participated in this rather ‘soft coercive’ as it is part of their assignment.

This listing is part of my initiatives to build an initial list with the help of scholars from RADIX in January 2012. This Assignment exposes the students to a list of “Thinkers” in the field of disaster management and disaster studies and risk management scholars in general. There have been about more than a hundred of thinkers in Disaster Studies. When I said, thinkers, it includes disaster theorists, empiricists, scholars and activists.

I argued that there is no disaster risk management policies and actions/practices that are totally independent from theories and concepts. The “DNA code” of disaster policy must be anchored in some theories proposed by theorists and scholars.

In the Unit/Course DEM511 (Emergency and Disaster Management In Context), at Charles Darwin University, Australia, I ask each student to provide video presentation on a particular scholar by addressing the following questions:

Guiding Question for Video Project on disasters thinkers

  1. Background of the scholar: Where he/she is born? Where and where and when she/he has been studying? Bring her/his background to be a starting point? If there is information on Why she or he studied the field?
  2. What key publications that he / she has written?What are the unique part of his work that you like? What people said about them based on your online research?How their background influence their work?The time and space where they develop their theories?Who are their students?
  3. How his or her story or theories can save lives? How it help people and countries to solve disaster and emergency problems?

Suggested methods of research: Desk reviews and Internet based research.

See the example of the work from a student on Mary Douglas.

Table 2. List of Early Arrivals – Disaster Risk Studies [Note – my original list include younger folks – So these list could potentially trigger a debate. But these are an early attempt to build such as list]

No Scholars or Thinkers Disciplinary origin YOB Preliminary sources
1 Allan Lavell Modeller YoB
2 Amartya Sen Economist 1933
3 Anthony Oliver-Smith Anthropology
4 Arjen Boin Political Science
5 Ben Wisner Human Geography 1944
6 Daniel Kahneman Psychology/ Behavioral Economics 1934
7 David Alexander Geography
8 Dorothea Hilhorst Development studies
9 Douglas Paton Physiology
10 Elaine Enarson Gender Studies
11 Enrico Quarantelli Sociology 1924
12 Gilbert F. White Geography 1911
13 Greg Bankoff History
14 Hans-Georg Bohle Human Geography
15 Haresh C. Shah Civil Engineering
16 Ian Burton Geography
17 Ian Davis Architecture
18 James Lewis Geography
19 John Handmer Environment
20 Kathleen Tierney Sociology
21 Ken Westgate Geography
22 Kenneth Hewitt Geography
23 Marcel Fafchams Economist 1955
24 Mary B. Anderson Psychology
25 Mary Douglas Anthropology
26 Maureen Fordham Gender Studies
27 Neil R Britton Human Geography
28 Niklas Luhmann Sociology 1927
29 Norio Okada Civil Engineering
30 Ortwin Renn Sociology
31 Peter J. May Political Science
32 Peter Walker Development studies
33 Phil O’keefe Geography
34 Piers Blaikie Development studies
35 Pitrim Sorokin Sociology
36 Rajib Shaw Social Science
37 Rajib Shaw Social Science
38 Robert W. Kates Geography
39 Rohit Jigyasu Architecture
40 Ronald Perry Sociology
41 Russel Dynes Sociology
42 Susanna Hoffman Anthropology
43 Thomas Drabek Sociology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: