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Sustainability Frontiers at International Disaster and Risk Conference

by | 8th July 2012

Sustainability Frontiers at 4th International Disaster and Risk Conference, Davos, Switzerland, 26-30 August 2012


Fumiyo Kagawa and David Selby are to contribute to a UNESCO/UNICEF panel session at the 4th International Disaster and Risk Conference, ‘Integrative Risk Management in a Changing World’, to be held at Davos, Switzerland from 26-30 August 2012.  The panel on Education for Disaster Risk Reduction will discuss different approaches to disaster risk reduction through education and present recent research, case studies and guidance instruments.  It will take place on Monday 27 August, 2:40 – 4:10pm.

The published outcome of Fumiyo and David’s recent mapping study of disaster risk reduction curriculum globally, Disaster Risk Reduction in School Curricula: Case Studies from Thirty Countries (UNESCO/UNICEF, 2012) will be launched at the conference.

Abstracts for the two panel presentations by Fumiyo and David are as follows:

A Global Mapping of Disaster Risk Reduction Curriculum

This presentation will highlight the key findings of a conjoint UNICEF/UNESCO mapping study of the integration of disaster risk reduction (DRR)  into primary and secondary school curriculum globally.  Across 30 case studies, the study examines disciplinary, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary manifestations of DRR in the curriculum, strategies for introducing disaster risk reduction into school curricula, pedagogies employed in teaching disaster risk reduction, teacher professional development, DRR learning outcomes and approaches to mainstreaming DRR in the school system.  Each of these areas will be briefly reviewed in the presentation.  It will be argued that DRR tends to appear in a narrow band of school subjects, typically the physical and natural sciences, with little horizontal integration or learning reinforcement across the curriculum.  Vertical (through the grade levels) integration of DRR learning is likewise thin. Also, although DRR ambitions are oriented towards competency-building and learner engagement in and with the community, the limited use of participatory pedagogies rather stifles the ambition.  Expressed ambitions notwithstanding, forms of learning assessment currently being employed do not lend themselves to measuring whether capacities and dispositions for disaster risk reduction are being cultivated but more or less adhere to traditional testing of knowledge.  Systematic professional development directed towards developing the ‘DRR facilitative and reflective practitioner’ is called for.  In short, while there are noteworthy examples of curriculum development, use of active pedagogies and successful movement to scale, there is still much to do if the commitment of the ISDR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to integrating DRR into school curricula worldwide by 2015 is to be realised.  The presenters will make a series of recommendations for narrowing, if not closing, the gap between ambition and actuality.

Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction into the Curriculum: A Technical Guidance Tool

This presentation will introduce a recently-completed UNESCO/UNICEF Technical Guidance Tool for introducing disaster risk reduction (DRR) into education sector policies, curricula and assessment at primary and secondary school level.  The Tool, also written by the Sustainability Frontiers team, is for policy makers and curriculum developers in government, non-governmental and UN agencies.  It will first be argued that disaster risk reduction education (DRRE) should be located within an education for sustainable development (ESD) framework and that, within that frame, it can be aligned with climate change education (CCE), life skills education and child-friendly learning initiatives, and so make a significant contribution to the evolving notion of quality education. Thereafter, various features of the Tool will be reviewed: its insistence on systematic horizontal and vertical integration of DRR in school curricula;  its guidance on the planning and progression of curriculum development (and its emphasis on consensus-buliding within multi-sector partnership); its demonstration of processes whereby context-appropriate learning outcomes as well as learning outcome progression can be determined and constructive alignment achieved between outcomes and forms and styles of learner assessment; its guidance on the development of learning modules and associated activities and materials and its dovetailed advice on the facilitation of learning; its teacher professional development guidelines and proposals; its benchmarks and indicators for monitoring and evaluating curriculum and its delivery.  Finally, the presenters will look through the lenses of the whole school and whole system to look at issues of DRR curriculum mainstreaming.

For details of the panel, go to: