International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001

In the Spotlight: The Role of the University


Academic exchange with Latin America -
one way of doing it

Question period: let’s talk about the myths

Before we can begin to study scholarly research on disasters and develop effective mitigation strategies, we must collectively define what is a disaster. A lecture on how North Americans and Europeans have defined disasters and open up a discussion/question period that will critique these western and developed-world notions of disasters. As a conclusion, a review of a few of the commonly believed myths about how people behave in disasters and what researchers have found.

May 8
Preparation: a review from the “second assessment” in the U.S.

How do we study disasters?
A group of one hundred experts recently completed a comprehensive assessment of research on disasters in the United States. This class reviews the results of that effort in the area of preparation and mitigation. Then, can we have faith and trust in the research products of disaster researchers? Can we feel secure in applying the research? The instructor will show slides from various disasters that she has studied and describe the research efforts that were funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, and others.

May 15
The role of the educational sector in reducing vulnerabiliti

The EDUPLANhemisférico represents a very exciting hemispheric effort organized by the Organization of American States. Currently, technical secretariats are being organized and established in half a dozen Caribbean and South American nations. How can you participate in the EDUPLANhemisférico and how can we reach across borders to support each other’s efforts?

May 22
Designing University Curricula for Disasters

Professionalization and the field of Emergency Management
Guest lecturer: Dr. David Neal, University of North Texas

Dr. Neal, former director of the first degree program in emergency management in the world and a professional consultant in disaster education, will speak on various curriculum models that have been used in emergency management education programs. In addition, he will discuss how emergency managers have become professionalized, including the current U.S. efforts to certify emergency managers. He will also talk about national efforts to create workshops and “distance education courses” for emergency managers. Discussion: what type of education for emergency managers is needed in Costa Rica?

May 29
The social impact of hazards, risks and vulnerabilities in disasters.

The instructor will show slides of various disasters and the most vulnerable groups that she has studied, including people homeless before the disaster, the elderly, migrant farmworkers, and low-income minority groups (in the U.S. this includes Latinos and African Americans) and the problems that they have faced. What makes someone vulnerable? What is the impact on a socially vulnerable group’s ability to recover? How can organizations, agencies, and other groups help with reducing vulnerabilities?

June 12
How can we make emergency management more effective?

How can we improve all parts of emergency response from preparation through recovery? How can we get all organizations and agencies to work together more cooperatively and effectively? Donations of food and clothes often overwhelm emergency managers. Lecture on two contrasting viewpoints in emergency management: the “command and control” military-like response, and the “emergent norm” flexible approach and will conclude with a “top ten” list of suggestions from emergency managers in the U.S.

June 19
Reducing the vulnerabilities of women
Benefits of including women

What does “gender” have to do with disasters? During the 1990s, we learned that women and children die or become injured in disasters more frequently than do men. Why is this? What role do women play in disasters? After a discussion period of women’s vulnerabilities in Costa Rica, the instructor will lecture on research findings about women’s vulnerabilities and ways in which we can reduce those vulnerabilities. We will concentrate on making women stronger, on building their capacities to reduce/mitigate vulnerabilities.

June 26
Reducing the vulnerabilities of children and the elderly

What is the role of schools and society in reducing the vulnerabilities of children and the elderly? What makes children and the elderly vulnerable here in Costa Rica? The instructor will present research findings on what makes children and the elderly vulnerable in general and present general questions designed to promote discussion on how to apply the research to Costa Rica. For example, how can the EDUPLANhemisférico be used to reduce children’s vulnerabilities? What are/should be the role of agencies that work with the elderly in disasters? How can we work with elderly agencies (and locations where the elderly reside) to reduce their vulnerabilities?

Are you interested in having a similar course at your University?
Contact Brenda Philips

If you would like more information about the Rotary Foundation and its
exchange programs, visit the following website in English