SoSe 16: Vulnerability and Resilience in Theory and Practice (MA EPP)
In recent years, the terms ‘vulnerability’ and ‘resilience’ (robustness or durability) have both become key concepts in such research areas as world hunger, sustainability, climate change, and ... read more
In recent years, the terms ‘vulnerability’ and ‘resilience’ (robustness or durability) have both become key concepts in such research areas as world hunger, sustainability, climate change, and especially in disaster research. These terms mark a fundamental change in the discourse about risks and hazards. Classical approaches in disaster research were oriented predominately at risks such as earthquakes, storms or droughts, which were thought of as being “disruptive factors,” external to society which could potentially lead to disasters. Societal relations played scarcely any roll in such conceptions. Since the 1980s socio-economic, cultural, and political conditions slowly gravitate toward the centre of research focus. It was argued that these aforementioned conditions were significant for determining the probability that someone would become a disaster victim. According to this understanding, people, cultures, or societies could be more or less “vulnerable” to the same risks depending upon how they live, what they are able to afford, which social or organizational labour induced constraints they are subjected to, etc. That being so, it is in societies’ hands to shape these circumstances so that vulnerability is reduced even in the cases where the hazards themselves cannot be changed. Since the 1990s, this perspective has been broadened to cover investigations into, for example, why people handle crises, shocks, terror, or disasters differently as well as why some escape such events largely unscathed (i.e. why some are somehow “resilient” while others, for example, must bear long-term psychological and somatic effects). Important to note in this approach is that it no longer focuses on determining vulnerability to a specific risk, but rather it highlights the necessity to understand that which in general makes people resilient to a range of different, even unknown hazards.
In this course we will thoroughly develop the central concepts of vulnerability and resilience with a specific scrutiny of the hazards as posed by the 21st century. We will likewise discuss three application areas (in the context of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction” and the UNFCCC “Paris Agreement” on Climate Change) as well as the conditions and possibility for practical application.
If you want to prepare a lecture on one of the above mentioned topics (concepts of vulnerability or resilience, “2030-Agenda”, “Sendai Framework”, “Paris Agreement”) for the early sessions of the seminar over the term break, you can already contact me via email.