Introduction to Disaster Management

Course Description: 

Modern societies nowadays in many ways can be determined by existing and anticipated risks. Natural and technological hazards affect the everyday life as well as long-term development plans. While technological disasters are triggered by human error, negligence or even intent, changing environment can intensify the consequences or broaden the scale of such events. In case of natural disasters it is impossible to avoid all risks, they can be mitigated to some extent, but at some point, communities have to accept and adapt to potential hazards. For many decades the reactive approach in dealing with disasters (focus on response and recovery) prevailed, yet lately the shift to broader pre-disaster actions to minimize the disaster risks is encouraged. The presented course gives an introduction to the Disaster Risk Management, focusing on natural disasters, providing comprehensive understanding of the links between natural and social components of the issue. Starting from the theory, main definitions and concepts, the course then presents other aspects of the problem, like International Agreements, impacts of climate change and urbanization on the severity and extent of disasters, case studies of disaster management on national and local levels, some existing supporting technologies. These topics will be covered by practitioners from corresponding international or national organizations (e.g. UNDP, UNOOSA, Red Cross).

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Understanding foundations of hazards, disasters and associated natural/social phenomena
  • Being Familiar 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 DRR: Advantages and problems
  • Exposure to practical national disaster management activities (Field visit to Hungarian National Directorate of Emergency)
  • 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 and project presentation (80%): course project in a form of a case study, assessing the country’s (or region’s, or city’s) current disaster management system, in a context of a recent natural disaster event (5,000 words). Preparing a final project presentation (15-minutes long presentation). Assignment will be due at the end of semester.