180.633.01 The Sociocultural Dimensions of Disasters
- Environmental Health and Engineering
- 4th term
- 3 credits
- Academic Year:
- 2019 - 2020
- East Baltimore
How are disasters influenced by the ways people imagine, build, organize, and value their communities?
Why are disasters not equal opportunity events, in terms of their adverse impacts on public health?
How do culture and politics become entangled in public struggles to recognize, explain, and remember disasters?
Provides an anthropological viewpoint on extreme events including natural disasters, outbreaks, and technological accidents. Explores the human hand in, and experience of disasters - phenomena that influenced by the ways people imagine, build, organize, and value their communities. Critically examines the present trend of more frequent and more severe disasters, as well as chronic disparities in people's abilities to withstand and to recover from mass tragedy. Introduces theories of social vulnerability and community resilience to inform policies on how to reduce the chances for, as well as consequences of disasters.
- Learning Objectives:
- Analyze the human role in causing the conditions for, and impacts of disasters
- Compare anthropology’s ecological, political-economic, and cultural approaches to the study of disasters
- Apply vulnerability models that emphasize political, economic, social, and cultural factors endangering people in different ways before, during, and after a disaster
- Specify the roles that race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, and dis/ability play in how people are harmed by and are able to cope with disaster
- Model components of community resilience and assess adaptive capacities that can help people reduce the chances for, as well as the consequences of disasters
- Evaluate the role that culture plays in how people make sense of the individual and collective experience of mass tragedy
- Propose examples of how culture and politics become entangled in public struggles to recognize, explain, and remember disasters and to remedy future ones
- Critique prevalent myths about human behavior in disasters that often contribute to poorly conceived policies and practices in disaster management
- Describe the disaster life cycle (i.e. mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover) and propose ideas on how anthropological insights can enhance policies at each stage of emergency management
- Methods of Assessment:
Documentary reaction essay (2-3pp) 20%
Case study written report (7-10pp) 50%
Briefing memo (1pg) 20%
- Instructor Consent:
Consent required for some students
- Consent Note:
Undergraduate JHU students must obtain consent to enroll
- For consent, contact: