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IRDR Taster Lecture Series

Wondering what it is like to study at UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction? Curious about our research? Every summer we run a series of taster lectures and they're available to watch here.

Girl wearing earphones looking at laptop

During August and September, we run a series of online taster lectures, highlighting some of the key themes explored in our Master’s programmes. In these interactive one-hour sessions, IRDR teaching staff pose challenging questions and encourage attendees to contribute and 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.

You can catch up on what was covered in the last series here.


Creating Catastrophe – Pandemics and Beyond
Professor Ilan Kelman

Why do disasters happen? Why are they not 'natural disasters'? Join Ilan Kelman who explains why those with power and resources make choices, usually forcing vulnerability onto others, which then hurts themselves, so that disasters happen. This includes the current pandemic and many more from around the world including earthquakes and weather.

Full webinar now available to view on our YouTube channel.


‘There’s an App for That’: How digital technologies and social media shape our health and assist in fighting pandemics
Professor Patty Kostkova

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.

Full webinar now available to view on our YouTube channel.


Safety and Security: How Civil Protection Grew Out of Civil Defence
Professor David Alexander

This is the story of how emergency management evolved into two parallel but highly connected systems in response to society's changing needs for safety and security. Civil defence has ancient origins but in its modern form it began in the 1930s and grew and developed during the Second World War. It underwent a further metamorphosis in the Cold War, and another reorientation in the aftermath of "9-11" in the United States. As the decade of the 2000s wore on, it acquired an ever stronger focus on homeland security and counter-terrorism. As civil defence is fundamentally centralised at the national level, civil protection grew up as the coordinated local response to hazards and disasters. Civil protection has matured to the point at which it is a parallel system to civil defence, providing safety as a counterpart to security.

Full webinar now available on our YouTube channel.


Methods Matter: Participatory Tools in Disaster Risk Reduction
Dr Bayes Ahmed

In this lecture, Dr Bayes Ahmed will explain how we can place people at the centre of decision-making by applying participatory methods. 

Dr Ahmed will approach this topic by asking some key questions: How can we ensure local people's participation in DRR planning? Which method is preferable – quantitative or qualitative? What is a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) method? How to apply PRA methods in practice? How can we develop a community consultation model?

Full webinar now available on our YouTube channel.


Why do we need a gender perspective in conflict and disaster studies?
Dr Punam Yadav and Professor Maureen Fordham

Our experience of any crisis is largely determined by the gendered power relations and unequal social structures. Women, men and sexual minorities are impacted differently in conflict and disaster. In general, more men are likely to die in conflict, whereas more women die in disaster. This is due to their gender roles, social expectations and unequal power relations. In this taster lecture, Dr Yadav and Professor Fordham will examine the gendered history of disaster studies and discuss some examples of gendered impacts of humanitarian crisis.

The themes discussed in this lecture are explored in more depth in module IRDR0016 Gender, Disaster and Conflict, led by Dr Yadav and Prof Fordham. Find out more on our modules page.

Full webinar now available on our YouTube channel.


Catastrophe Modelling - So much more than a tool for insurers
Dr Joanna Faure Walker

What are catastrophe models? How are they used by the insurance industry to manage risk? How can they serve the wider risk and disaster reduction community to mitigate and manage risk? How should such approaches help to reduce the claim of so many quote "unexpected" disasters.

Associate Professor Joanna Faure Walker introduces you to catastrophe models so you can start to think how you might use them to reduce the impact from disasters.

Full webinar now available on our YouTube channel.


Decision-making for infrastructure resilience. Bridging the science practice divide
Dr Gianluca Pescaroli and Savina Carluccio

From utilities to the internet, over the last two decades infrastructure networks have increased in interdependency and level of integration with society. It is crucial to assure their resilience for ongoing challenges, such as COVID-19 and cyber threats, but also for future scenarios including climate change, ageing assets, and increased urban density.

Dr Gianluca Pescaroli and Savina Carluccio, Associate Director-Infrastructure Advisory at Arup, will host this joint lecture, which bridges the work done by UCL IRDR and ARUP teams to investigate requirements and barriers for improving decision-making for resilience in infrastructure. They will discuss lessons learned and challenges to business continuity, facility and data management. Are you ready to be disrupted?

Full webinar now available on our YouTube channel.