UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


IRDR Master's Taster Lectures 2021

Wondering what it's like to study at UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction? Curious about our research? Join our series of online taster lectures to find out more.

During July and August, we run a series of online taster lectures that highlight some of the key themes explored in our Master’s programmes. In these one-hour sessions, IRDR teaching staff pose challenging questions and encourage attendees to analyse their own ideas and opinions.

The free webinars are open to everyone but are particularly beneficial to anyone who is considering studying a postgraduate programme in the IRDR. 

2021 programme

8 July 2021, 1pm BST
David Alexander: Some Emerging Themes in Disaster Risk Reduction

We will apply a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to the disaster risk reduction field to see what sort of emergencies we will have to confront in the future and how we can organise to deal with them.

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

15 July 2021, 4pm BST
Joanna Faure Walker: Micro insurance – can it be a suitable risk reduction tool?

In this lecture, Associate Professor Joanna Faure Walker will discuss what microinsurance is and how it can be used as a resilience building tool for those vulnerable to disasters. Joanna will be joined by co-author and IRDR PhD student Rebekah Yore to examine the value of considering such initiatives for disaster preparedness through both a humanitarian and business lens and provide some examples of micro insurance initiatives from around the globe. For further information, see Yore, R; Faure Walker, J; (2019) Microinsurance for disaster recovery: Business venture or humanitarian intervention? An analysis of potential success and failure factors of microinsurance case studies. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2018.09.003

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

22 July 2021, 1pm BST
Ilan Kelman: Disaster by choice: How our actions turn natural hazards into catastrophes

An earthquake shatters Haiti and a pandemic ravages the world. We hear that nature runs rampant, seeking to destroy us through these 'natural disasters'. Science recounts a different story. Disasters are not the consequence of natural causes; they are the consequence of human choices and decisions. We put ourselves in harm's way and we fail to take measures which we know would prevent disasters, no matter what the environment does. The real causes of disasters are humanity's decisions, as societies and as individuals – at least, for those who have choices.

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

29 July 2021, 4pm BST
Patty Kostkova: There's an app for that!

The importance of digital public health has been growing with the massive explosion of mobile health apps, wearable and tracking devices but it was the COVID-19 emergency that raised the importance of digital technology for our health, and preparedness and response to pandemics.

In this talk, Professor Kostkova will look at the opportunities brought by social media for early-warning of epidemics – swine flu and COVID-19. We will also cover mobile mosquito surveillance initiatives to combat the zika virus in Brazil, serious mobile games for increasing resilience and disaster preparedness in perinatal women in Nepal and persuasive games improving antibiotic prescribing in Nigeria.

Watch now on the iRDR YouTube channel

5 August 2021, 1pm BST
Maureen Fordham: Making a difference: the contribution of feminist theory and approaches to a disaster case study

This interactive session will introduce the MANTRA Nepal (Maternal And Newborn Technology for Resilience in rural Areas) case study as a way to think about what different research methods can give us. In particular, exploring what we mean by feminist theory and method. We will focus on the qualitative/photovoice case study from the MANTRA project in Nepal and discuss what this kind of approach can give us that others do not.

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

12 August 2021, 4pm BST
Joanna Faure Walker: The Analytical Hierarchy process - a tool for combining expert opinion

Quantitative risk assessment allows a probabilistic approach to informed decision-making.  Some probabilities and choices can be calculated quantitatively using scientific theory, evidence from previous events and scientific or engineering experimentation.  However, some quantities cannot be calculated with such approaches as the preference or likelihood may be subjective and instead we need to employ expert opinion. There are various methods available to determine relative scales or likelihoods either looking at an individual's or a group's overall opinion. One such method is the analytical hierarchy process.  In this taster lecture, Associate Professor Joanna Faure Walker will explain what is the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) and how it can be adopted in the case of making a qualitative judgement regarding the relative importance of different factors in decision-making.  She will use the example of investigating the relative suitability of different school buildings as evacuation shelters in the event of a disaster. For further information see Tsioulou, A; Faure Walker, J; Lo, DS; Yore, R; (2020) A method for determining the suitability of schools as evacuation shelters and aid distribution hubs following disasters: case study from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Natural Hazards 10.1007/s11069-020-04380-3.

At the end of this lecture, Joanna will be available to answer questions about the programme or studying at the IRDR.

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

19 August 2021, 1pm BST
Myles Harris: Space Health and Disaster Risk Reduction

How can the mitigation of risks to health in space contribute to promoting good health and well-being in remote environments on Earth? Myles Harris, UCL IRDR PhD student and coordinator of UCL Space Health Risks Research Group, will present an overview of space health and disaster risk reduction, including some of the projects the research group is working on.

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

26 August 2021, 4pm BST
Rebekah Yore: Warnings: why they work, why they don’t work

What are the components of hazard warning systems and why is it so important that they are embedded in context? Warnings are becoming more sophisticated and reliable, but why do so many people still not act the way we would expect in times of higher risk?

UCL IRDR PhD student Rebekah Yore draws on her work and that of her colleagues in the Philippines, the Caribbean and Japan for real life case study examples of tropical cyclone, earthquake and tsunami warning messages to understand why. 

For further information, see: Yore, R., Faure Walker, J. (2020) Early warning systems and evacuation: rare and extreme versus frequent and small-scale tropical cyclones in the Philippines and Dominica. Disasters; Naylor, Faure Walker & Suppasri (2018) Early Warning, evacuation and temporary housing of the elderly affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

9 September 2021, 1pm BST
Mohammad Shamsudduha: Global water risks and resilience under changing climate

Global climate change is disrupting weather patterns and leading to extreme weather events such as recent floods in Europe, China and India, and droughts and ongoing wildfires in many parts of the world. Climate change is increasing uncertainly in seasonal availability of freshwater by changing water cycle patterns. This taster lecture will provide an overview of the physical scientific basis of intensification of precipitation and how heavy precipitation events can lead to flash floods and related disasters. The lecture will also highlight the links between heavy precipitation events and replenishment of subsurface water storage (i.e. groundwater recharge) that can help not only reduce flood disasters but also enhance food and water security in some parts of the world.

Watch now on the IRDR YouTube channel

16 September 2021, 1pm BST
Gianluca Pescaroli and Nigel Furlong: Why lateral thinking and creativity are important for disaster resilience

In this taster lecture, the IRDR's Dr Gianluca Pescaroli and his guest Nigel Furlong (United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority) will discuss the role of lateral thinking and creativity in disaster risk reduction.

Aiming to propose innovative solutions for "planning the unthinkable", Gianluca and David will explain why thinking outside the box is essential in the sector, and how science fiction could be used for developing aspects such as scenario exercises, war games, cyber resilience, and strategic foresight e.g. for space exploration. 

About Nigel Furlong
Nigel is the Business Resilience Manager and Senior Security Adviser at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, which is a UK Government agency researching nuclear fusion energy production and materials research including robotics in challenging environments and heads up the business resilience function with a small team focused on business continuity management, emergency arrangements, and all facets of security risk management including a project to develop future security regulation of nuclear fusion energy sector. Nigel has worked in areas of critical national infrastructure such as the civil nuclear industry, land transport – road and rail infrastructure including tunnels, environmental protection, and water utilities since 1999.

He has a MSc in Risk Crisis and Disaster Management from the University of Leicester and is a Fellow with Security Institute, The Institute of Leadership and Management and the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

Nigel originally trained as an aircraft engineer with the Royal Air Force in 1984 and later worked in the aviation industry both within the United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Oman until 1999.

He recently appeared as guest contributor on the IRDR blog with a post on science fiction and disaster risk reduction.

Watch now on the iRDR YouTube channel.

Previous taster lectures

Watch some of our previous taster lectures on the IRDR YouTube channel.