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The Social Dimension of Multi-Risk Hazard Monitoring

Project Topic Overview

The need for holistic multi-hazard monitoring have featured prominently in recent sustainable development directives - such as the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction that emphasised a concerted effort to foster ‘collaboration and partnership across mechanisms and institutions’ and target SDG 13 that calls for action to ‘strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries’. As they are currently arranged, disaster risk reduction and resilience policies usually adopt framings of risk which are not sensitive to the realities of local communities and thus are not able to capture highly localised data that is crucial for effective reduction of the economic and human costs of natural hazards. Innovative methodological approaches such as citizen-science and Volunteer Geographic Information are attempting to capture the perception of risk from citizens and local communities and mobilise decision-makers at different levels to become more aware of social, spatial, cultural, and environmental particularities of civic communities. Moreover, there is an urgent need to rethink how climate and environmental risk data is produced, circulated and used and identify ways through which it can become more citizen-focused and multi-hazard in coverage. Most present systems that monitor hazards (normally a single hazard) utilise techno-rational techniques like environmental sensing and risk mapping that focus upon measures of vulnerability, such as potential harm and cost, whilst the potential social impacts of such hazards are left relatively unexplored. This poses a central question of how local citizen-generated data can blend with such conventional data sources to ensure that local risk data and experiences are incorporated in climate and environmental planning and decision making and ultimately lead to the construction of alternate and more equitable imaginaries for the future? In other words, to what extent the production, circulation and use of data can support disaster risk management, reduce the socio-spatial and environmental vulnerability of at-risk communities, and ultimately contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Working within the established research partnerships between IGSD and The British Geological Survey, this study with focus upon the ways through which the monitoring of climate-related hazards can better incorporate social dimensions into its analysis through mixed method approaches, and in different socioeconomic contexts. Although the choice of case studies is open and will be dictated by the appointed PhD student, the supervisory team and non-academic partners have a range of international and UK contacts that can be mobilised if required. Methodologically, this research aspires to build upon existing work on participatory methods, such as dialogic data innovation and participatory mapping, paying significant attention to the development of further innovative methodological approaches for bringing together top-down, detailed authoritative risk datasets and bottom-up community-sensitive understandings of risk.

Applicant Profile

Standard requirement for all projects: A good first degree (2:1 above or equivalent), a postgraduate degree/ or equivalent professional or research experience.

The scholarship is offered to applicants with outstanding academic profiles and research proposals. It normally includes UK fees and stipends.

Applicants are required to develop their own research proposals under this thematic topic. Please get in touch with the supervision team before submitting an application.

Specific requirement: Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree and ideally a Master’s degree (or equivalent professional experience) in city planning, urban/human geography, Geographic Information Systems or a cognate field. Applicants should ideally have experience in working across several disciplines and in a range of qualitative and qualitative methods.

Supervisory Team

Dr Vangelis Pitidis, Institute for Global Sustainable Development

Dr Pitidis is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Global Sustainable Development, with expertise and proven track record in interdisciplinary research on topics such as urban resilience and citizen science, participatory methods and collaborative mapping. His interdisciplinary background, cutting across social sciences, urban planning, human geography, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has helped him undertake a number of different roles in many international research projects across Europe and Latin America.

Professor Jon Coaffee, Politics and International Studies

Professor Coaffee is an interdisciplinary urban studies and city resilience expert in the Department of Politics and International Studies with a very high-profile proven record of funding acquisition and PhD supervision. Professor Coaffee has led numerous UK and EU-funded projects on issues such as urban resilience, urban governance and disaster risk management across Europe and Latin America.