Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSUS1SC8334

Semester and Year Offered: 3rd semester

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Urfat Anjem Mir

Email of course coordinator: urfat[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: NA


The course is intended to create awareness about disaster risks, vulnerability and sustainability -how pre and post disaster situations affect society in different ways and most importantly the way, resilience of the communities and environmentally sustainable practices can be strengthened. This course draws from the social anthropological and sociological understanding of disasters and risks and how societies suffer and cope with such situations.

Course Outcomes:

  1. On successfully completion of this course, the students will be able to:
  2. Describe and critically engage with the concepts of Risks, Vulnerability and Disaster.
  3. Identify and evaluate the sources of risks, types of disasters, impact of disasters and recognize how people/ communities inhabiting the same and different locations are affected differently by such extreme events.
  4. Exhibit and apply critical thinking for understanding of sustainable disaster response systems/ practices and disaster recovery measures and in problem solving of environmental concerns having both local and global implications.
  5. Recognize and explain the need for communities to have comprehensive plans for disaster risk reduction and sustainable environmental practices.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Defining the concept of Disaster, Vulnerability, Risk and Society.

Part A:

The module beings by introducing students with the terms and concepts central to the course. The aim is not only to make students learn the definitions rather critically engage with the concepts and especially, what is a disaster, its multiple dimensions etc. How the disasters have been studied through social science perspective, the past and emerging dimensions of a disaster and how the multiple conceptual and thematic foci emerged from various disciplinary origins too are broadly covered in this part.

Part B:

The Part B of the module focuses on the way the technological or other human induced process have the probability and potential of causing physical harm. One of the important strands of theme taken up for discussion is the distribution of wealth and distribution of risks in society. The aim is to engage critically with the debates around contors of risk society and Beck’s theory of reflective modernization and help students make sense of contemporary conceptualization of risks and disasters and more importantly the social construction of risks.

Module 2: Nature and Typology of disasters.

The module introduces students to nature and various types of disasters and risks. Through interactive and activity based approach the nuances of typology of disasters will be demonstrated to the students. Class Activity: Access NIDM Website and read about it; global Financial Risks, Economic Slowdown and its impacts

Module3: Disasters Trends: India.

The focus of the module is on understanding the trends of disasters both at national and state level. The students will be made to understand not only the categories and criteria used for defining disasters but also the social, economic, physical and health impacts of disasters and risks. This will be achieved through analysis of the national as well as internationally credible source of disaster data base.

Module 4: Climate change and energy resources: Debating natural resources and risks

Drawing from the debates on politics of climate change and global warming, this module covers the theme of natural resource utilization and the issue of fossil fuels, carbon markets and energy consumption patterns. The climate change policy in the industrial countries and the global negotiations at limiting global warming will be the primary focus, especially who contribute more to carbon emissions and who all are supposed to cut down carbon emissions. The implication of such negotiations for developed and developing countries and lastly what has been the outcome of such negotiations at global level will also be taken up for discussion in this module.

Module 5: Vulnerability and the People: What makes people vulnerable and how to reduce vulnerability?

Drawing primarily from the understanding that hazards are natural and disasters are not, the module covers the theme of, what makes people vulnerable in risk society and how poverty, resource depletion, marginalization on socio- economic, race, caste, class basis and gender inequalities stemming from social structures play a very important role in not only excluding large numbers of people but also robbing them of the benefits of development and results in putting at risk lives of such people differently in the society. The focus will especially be upon how social processes generate unequal exposure to risk by making some people more prone to disasters than others, and how such inequalities are largely a function of the power relations operative in every society The diversity of risks generated by the interplay between local and global processes and how coping with them on daily basis becomes difficult for such vulnerable people and the theme of resilience of people in risky society will also be brought under focus.

Module 6: Civil Society, risk and Disaster Management

By focusing on three of the largest earthquakes through the lens of the role and responsibility of the state and civil society in protecting vulnerable citizens from disasters, the module provides illuminating case studies that investigate the gaps/ short comings in provisions in state structures and the extent to which the civil society can or cannot fill those gaps and effectively secure the safety of people in pre-disaster, during disaster and post disaster phases.

Module 7: Urban Risk Reduction

Drawing from the understanding that unplanned development, migration from rural areas and increasing vulnerabilities are the characteristic features of urbanization in Asia, this module provides an overview of issues and challenges of urban risk with focus on environment and disasters and also covers a mapping of urban risk reduction initiatives.

Assessment Details with weights:





First Assignment



Second Assignment: Field activity based project work  on any aspect of the risk  and vulnerability assessment of the local neighbourhood



Presentation/ Viva on Risk and disaster profile of any one Indian state



End Semester Exam( As per SUS academic calendar)



Reading List:

  • Oliver Smith A. (1999). “What is a disaster?” Anthropological perspectives on a persistent question. In Oliver-Smith, A and Hoffman, S M (eds). The Angry Earth: Disaster in Anthropological Perspective, New York and London: Routledge,pp: 18-34.
  • Omar D Cardona (2004). The Need for Rethinking the Concepts of Vulnerability and Risk from a Holistic Perspective: A Necessary Review and Criticism for Effective Management. In Bankoff G., George Freerks and Dorothea Hilhorst (Eds). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. London: Earthscan Pp:37-50.
  • Beck, U. (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Trans. M. Ritter. London: Sage. Chapter 1 pp: 19-50
  • Kathleen J. Tierney (1999). Toward a Critical Sociology of Risk. Sociological Forum, Vol. 14, No. 2 pp. 215-242.
  • EM-DAT: The OFDA/ CRED International Disaster Database,
  • National Institute of Disaster management, Ministry of Home Affairs Govt. of India: New Delhi
  • India Disaster Knowledge Network Website
  • Anthony Giddens (2009). The Politics of Climate Change. Cambridge : Polity Press ( Chapter 2, 3 and 8) pp: 17-49, 182-203 and 227-231.
  • Vinod K. Sharma & A.D. Kaushik (2012) Natural Resource Management Strategies for Disaster Risk Reduction. In Anil K. Gupta and Sreeja S. Nair (eds). Ecosystem Approach to Disaster Risk Reduction. New Delhi: National Institute of Disaster Management. pp: 45-56
  • Maureen Fordham (2004). Gendering Vulnerability Analysis: Towards a More Nuanced Approach. In Bankoff G., George Freerks and Dorothea Hilhorst (Eds). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. London : Earthscan. Pp: 174-182.
  • Dorothea Hilhorst and Greg Bankoff (2004). Introduction: Mapping Vulnerability In Bankoff G., George Freerks and Dorothea Hilhorst (Eds). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. London : Earthscan. Pp: 1-9
  • Zenaida Delica-Willison and Robin Willison (2004 ). Vulnerability Reduction: A Task for the Vulnerable People Themselves. In Bankoff G., George Freerks and Dorothea Hilhorst (Eds). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. London : Earthscan. Pp: 145-158
  • Alpaslan Özerdem and Tim Jacoby (2006). Disaster Management and Civil Society: Earthquake Relief in Japan, Turkey and India, London: I.B. Tarus. (Chapter 1pp 9-28)
  • Quarantelli E. L. (2003). Urban Vulnerability to disasters in Developing Countries: Managing Risks. In Alcira Kreimer, Margaret Arnold, Anne Carlin (eds). Building Safer Cities: The Future of Disaster Risk Washington: The World Bank Disaster Management Facility (Chapter 15 pp: 211-231).
  • Rajib Shaw, Hari Srinivas And Anshu Sharma (Eds). (2009). Urban Risk Reduction.UK: Emerald (Chapters 1 and 4) Pp: 3-12 , 55-76


  • Bankoff, J. and G. Frerks . 2004. Mapping Vulnerability. London: Earthscan
  • Beck, U. 1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. Translated by Mark Ritter..London: Sage
  • Benthal, J. 1993. Disasters Relief and the Media. IB Tauris and Company Ltd
  • Thomas E. Drabek. 1986. Human System Response to Disaster: An Inventory of Sociological Findings. New York: Springer-Verlag.
  • Giddens, A. 1998. Risk society: the context of British politics. In J. Franklin ed. The Politics of Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity, Cambridge, UK, Polity Press.
  • Löfstedt, R., Frewer, L. 1998. Risk and Modern Society. London, Earthscan Publications.
  • Hilgartner, S. 1992. The social construction of risk objects: or, how to pry open networks of risk. In J.F. Short and L. Clarke (Eds). Organizations, Uncertainties and Risk. Boulder, Westview Press: 39-53.
  • Renn, O. 1992. The social arena concept of risk debates. In S. Krimsky and D. Golding eds. Social Theories of Risk. Westport, Praeger.
  • Shrivastava, P. 1987. Bhopal: Anatomy of a Crisis. Cambridge, Mass: Ballinger
  • Dilley, M. et al. 2005. Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis. Washington, D.C: The World Bank Hazard Management Unit.
  • Kasperson, J. X. and Roger E. Kasperson (Eds). 2005. The Social Contours of Risk: Volume II: Risk Analysis, Corporations and the Globalization of Risk. London: Earthscan.