SDC-34306 Conflict, Development and Disaster


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work5
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. G van der Haar
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. G van der Haar
dr. JF Warner
dr. BJ Jansen
Examiner(s)dr. ir. G van der Haar

Language of instruction:



This course explores the nexus between development, conflict and disaster. The main aim of the course is to familiarise students with different conceptual and policy approaches to crisis and to the relation between crisis and processes of transformation. Violent conflict and disaster are often treated as a sign of the break- down of development or as 'development in reverse' and the solution is found in 'more' or 'better' development. We contrast this with approaches that treat conflict and disasters as expressive of processes of transformation, in which uneven or lop-sided development efforts may contribute to crisis. Crisis events then become sites at which different claims about what development is and should be, are expressed. The course explores crises as 'shock events', characterised by high levels of disruption, insecurity and unpredictability. We are interested in exploring the intensity of change associated with crisis (extreme make- over), the way people cope with crisis, the specific modes of ordering and repertoires of action that come into play, and the ensuing impacts on processes of in- and exclusion. But we also address the 'normality' in and normalisation of disasters and conflict. We are interested in the social organisation and the discursive constructions around conflict and disaster. We relate these theoretical debates on conceptualisations of crisis to approaches to policy and intervention. Pertinent issues in the course include the conceptualisation of conflict and violence, human security and the interaction between disaster and conflict, and the notion of securitisation. The course relates these issues to ongoing crisis in the world.
Theoretical notions and debates are treated in interactive lectures. Alongside this, students will work on a case study assignment in which they will use these notions to analyse a concrete case of crisis and crisis response. This course is the thesis preparatory course for the MSc thesis Disaster Studies. The domain of Disaster studies covers crisis, crisis response and societal change, including the study of natural hazards and disasters, violent conflict, and intervention responses (humanitarian aid, reconstruction, and disaster risk reduction). To prepare for a thesis in Disaster Studies we advise that you also follow one or more of our other courses.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- analyse the relationships between development, conflict and disaster at the level of theory, policy, and social reality;
- identify and critically appraise prevailing theoretical approaches to conflict and crisis and how they are related to development;
- appraise the policy implications associated with major explanatory approaches;
- appraise and apply the concept of securitisation;
- analyse crisis situations in terms of social organisation and discursive construction;
- critically examine and appraise peace building and conflict transformation as intervention practice.


Students are expected to attend the lectures, to read the literature in preparation of the sessions, and to actively engage in the discussion.
Students will write a case study assignment in which they analyse a concrete case of crisis and crisis response.


- written exam (60%);
- case study assignment (group work) (40%).
Both components require a minimum mark of 5.50 to pass the course.


The literature will be made available through MyPortal.

Restricted Optional for: MIDInternational Development StudiesMScA: Sociology of Development5AF