Universities team up to tackle disasters

10 February 2016

Canterbury's universities are pooling their resources to give students a wide range of skills to help manage the after-effects of natural disasters.

Universities team up to tackle disasters - Imported from Legacy News system

University of Canterbury Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Dr Hamish Cochrane

As Canterbury continues its rebuild efforts following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, the region’s two universities are pooling their resources to give students a wide range of skills to help manage the after-effects of natural disasters.

Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury have signed a memorandum of understanding that signals their plan to jointly develop and offer qualifications in disaster risk and resilience.

The University of Canterbury Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Dr Hamish Cochrane signed the memorandum on behalf of his University and welcomed the mutual agreement.

“Both universities have experienced and learned so much from the Canterbury earthquakes. The collaboratively taught and jointly awarded Master of Disaster Risk & Resilience (MDRR) and related postgraduate programmes will make the most of the complementary knowledge and expertise of each university, allowing for future joint research and collaboration,” Dr Cochrane says.

“Canterbury-based students are in a unique position to discover how cities and towns can become more resilient to disaster by studying recent events that have occurred here,” says Lincoln University Associate Professor Hamish Rennie.

“The jointly-offered qualifications will combine the University of Canterbury’s expertise in the physical and engineering aspects of disaster with Lincoln’s strengths in environment planning, socio-economic factors and community engagement.”

Associate Professor Rennie says there has been a significant worldwide shift from focusing solely on building stronger structures and trying to predict disasters to planning in advance how best to cope with disastrous events.

“Students who want to establish careers in disaster reduction will need a broad understanding of natural systems, as well as the systems developed by society to regulate human behaviour and people’s behaviour in response to unexpected shocks and stresses.”

Lincoln’s contribution to the field involves helping scientists and engineers to understand how they can integrate their knowledge effectively into social structures and consider ways in which communities can prepare for, respond to and recover from major events.

Associate Professor Rennie expects the programmes to attract considerable interest from overseas, due to Christchurch’s high profile as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), a project dedicated to helping cities around the world to recover more quickly from disaster.

“We also have the support of other emergency programmes in New Zealand, because the combination of skills offered by Lincoln and UC is seen as filling an important gap in this field,” he says.

Students will be able to study towards a Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience, a Postgraduate Diploma in Disaster Risk and Resilience or a Master of Applied Science in Disaster Risk and Resilience.

For further information please contact:
Margaret Agnew
Senior External Relations Advisor
Communications and Engagement
University of Canterbury
Ph: (03) 364 2775
Mobile: 027 5030 168
margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz