What can history teach us about disaster resilience?

About the project or challenge area

'Natural' disasters pose an increasing threat in an urbanising, inequitable world, but they are nothing new. Regions such as China, India, Europe and North America have records about natural hazards and human responses dating back hundreds or even thousands of years. Even events in the 20th century could help reveal the roots of present-day practices. What can these rich resources tell us about dynamic relationships between humans and hazards? Are there lessons from history that could help build disaster resilience today? Can we challenge, or perhaps reinforce, the emerging norms of disaster risk reduction strategies?

Why choose this opportunity?

You will have the opportunity to be among the path-breakers in the growing, dynamic field of disaster history. You will gain experience of using methodologies for researching the past - using archives, images, or spatial data - to ask questions that are pressingly relevant to interdisciplinary academic and humanitarian work in disaster risk reduction. Your research, alongside your interdisciplinary Cabot training, will put you in the unique position of understanding both the human and non-human elements of 'natural' disasters.

About you

You will have a humanities/social sciences background, or be a physical scientist who is willing to embrace a different kind of approach. Experience of historical research would be helpful (including previous degrees in history, historical geography, archaeology, etc) but is not essential. If you would like to study a non-English-speaking country, language skills would also be helpful.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised challenge area, which means you should complete Section A + B of the Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB).

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.


Your supervisor for this project will be Daniel Haines, Senior Lecturer in Environmental History in the School of Humanities (Department of History). You can contact him at + 44 117 9289016 or email daniel.haines@bristol.ac.uk

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Natural hazards and disaster risk theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to provide the evidence base and solutions to protect lives and livelihoods from natural hazards around the world. Find out more about the Natural hazards and disaster risk theme.

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