Learning disaster by the book

THIS year so far has been a bumper one for natural hazards, with floods and cyclones in Queensland, earthquakes in NZ and tsunamis and nuclear crisis in Japan.
Climate scientists predict the intensity of these events will only increase in the immediate future, requiring more and more expertise in trouble spots around the world.
But the ANU is here to help, with a Masters of Natural Hazards and Disasters now on offer.
That’s right. You can study tsunamis and earthquakes and volcano eruptions – and you don’t even need a science degree.

Dr Doracie Zoleta-Nantes… “One aspect of disaster is management and risk and you need to mitigate them.” Photo by Silas

Now in its second year, graduates of the 12-month long program, initiated by former vice chancellor Ian Chubb, can hope to work in any number of areas relating to the monitoring, communication or risk-mitigation of natural hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods and tsunamis.
Course co-ordinators Dr Sara Pozgay Rawlinson and Dr Doracie Zoleta-Nantes say the masters brings together staff and students from earth and social sciences looking at both the causes of natural hazards and the impacts on humans that make them disasters.
“Traditionally, these are very separate areas at universities,” Dr Pozgay Rawlinson told “CityNews”.
“The formative idea is you have a bunch of earth scientists look at the hazard and do earthquake fall studies and tsunami modelling and stuff like that and then you have a bunch of social scientists who look at the aftermath and what’s happening with the nuclear power plant as it gets into the water and the effects on people.
“The idea is to combine these two areas because you can’t really have one without the other and so we created the program to really investigate both points of view.
“One of the things we focus on in the classes is how to evaluate what you’re really seeing in these events. It’s more comprehension and understanding of what is accurate information.”
“The program is a collaboration, students need to know to take all these things into account,” Dr Zoleta-Nantes says.
“In our working environment we’re forced to just focus on whatever we have been mandated to do, so in the process we get this narrow-minded point of view.
“One aspect of disaster is management and risk and you need to mitigate them.
“Development can really be curtailed by these circumstances and it has to be incorporated into local planning and national policy.”





More information at http://naturalhazards.anu.edu.au/master/

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