The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Prof Cassidy Johnson

Prof Cassidy Johnson

Professor of Urbanism and Disaster Risk Reduction

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
27th Sep 2006

Research summary

 My current research interests span across the following themes:

  • Disasters as a socially-constructed phenomenon, and the linkage between disasters and development. How our environment is shaped by the larger political economy in which we live.
  • The role of communities and local governments as central co-producers of responses to address disaster risks
  • The importance of disaggregated data for understanding the impacts of small-scale and everyday disasters, especially in informal settlements
  • Environmental justice, risks and urban planning
  • Evictions, resettlement and relocation. Narratives of struggle and resistance
  • Post disaster housing recovery

Teaching summary

MSc module "Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities" 

Supervision of PhD students on the topics ranging from municipal disaster risk management, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, to urban environmental risk and health. 


Columbia University
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Fellowship | 2007
University de Montreal
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2007
McGill University
Other higher degree, Master of Architecture | 2002
Concordia University, Montreal
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1999


Cassidy Johnson is Professor of Urbanism and Disaster Risk Reduction at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL, where she researches and teaches about disaster risk, post-disaster recovery and climate change adaptation. Hailing from Canada, she has been been at UCL since 2006.

My academic interests are linked by a commitment to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of low-income groups living in urban areas. My research contributes to the area of disaster risk reduction and recovery and to the role of local governments and civil society in this – and to integrating an understanding of disaster-risk into development. This has encompassed issues of urban planning, housing quality, building code regulations, informal settlements (and upgrading) and evictions. My work engages internationally with policy makers as well as with local communities and I have worked in more than eight countries across Asia and Africa, including Turkey, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi. 

My PhD was about post-disaster temporary housing - particularly looking at the temporary housing phase of housing recovery after the 1999 Earthquakes in Turkey. With my students, I have looked at urban rehabilitation and Roma communities in Sulukule, Istanbul and at how people and communities resist against forced evictions. I have also worked with Natural Resources Canada on the use of solar energy in cities.

For the last fifteen years, I have been publishing in leading journals on urban development, housing and disasters, and I have edited three books. I have undertaken many funded research projects with local and international partners related to disaster risks, adaptation, and participatory urban development. I regularly act as advisor to UK Research Councils, United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction, The World Bank and others.