BSc Minor Disaster Risk and Resilience (WUDIR) / BSc


Disasters frequently capture the global headlines, while an even greater number have serious impacts at local or regional scales. Media coverage often emphasizes 'spectacular nature' - geophysical or hydro-hazards such as storms, hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes, which themselves often lead to floods and landslides. The reality of 'slow-onset' disasters, however - most obviously serious droughts - alerts us to the social and environmental conditions that create the basis for a disaster to occur. Might all disasters in fact be related to vulnerability of one form or another, including the decisions diverse human communities make about organizing society and economy and the land on which these are based? Climate change, and the unpredictable and extreme weather it brings in terms of rainfall and droughtincreasingly demands us to think about and deal with these critical questions.

Professionals from a range of disciplines confront challenges related to disaster risk management and resilience, in poorer as much as wealthier regions. This minor prepares students from both the social and natural sciences for these challenges. It offers them the conceptual tools and professional, interdisciplinary, competencies to develop an effective and responsible engagement with processes of disaster risk, risk management, preparedness, and response.

Disasters have multiple and often far-reaching effects on the built environment and on agricultural production systems, as well as on socio-economic institutions. Especially where the capacity to recover is limited, livelihoods and social stability tend to suffer lasting consequences. Disaster governance seeks to mitigate the damage caused by hazards and reduce future disaster risk, but are technical solutions also socially acceptable, and do they equally benefit all citizens? Can poorly-conceptualized disaster governance, including uncontrolled urbanization in dangerous locations, lead to the very catastrophes it aims to prevent?

This minor addresses the social-institutional and the technical-design dimensions of risk management and disaster-proof planning, and examines the interaction between these different dimensions. It works with resilience as a central notion - indicating how disaster risk can be reduced or removed - but also debates the wide meanings of the term, from assessing/building the capacities of social, productive and ecological systems, to 'bouncing back' (or perhaps 'forward') after shocks. Education is case-based, integrating analysis and the design of solutions around specific examples.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this minor students are expected to be able to:
- understand the history of disaster management and contrast different theories of disaster risk and risk reduction;
- operationalise the concepts of disaster, hazard, vulnerability and resilience, and relate these to their specific field of expertise;
- analyse, contrast and design disaster risk management strategies ​for resilient societies and environments;
- interpret the causes of a series of high-profile disasters worldwide, especially (but not exclusively) relating to storms, floods and droughts;
- engage in an interdisciplinary environment, and connect/interrelate the social and technical dimensions of disaster risk and resilience, including social organisation and governance, land use/management, and climate;
- critically question how different social groups perceive disaster risk, and analyse why these perceptions impact on the type of response or resilience efforts undertaken.

Language of Instruction


BSc Minor Coordinator

Dr. Robert Coates
Phone: 0317-(4)88295

Target Group

This minor aims to attract WUR students of the BSc programmes International Development Studies (BIN), International land and water management (BIL), and Environmental Science (BES), but will also be interesting for BSc and MSc students in Communication and Life Sciences (BCL), Forest and Nature Conservation (BBN), International Development (MID & MDR), and other Geography, Ecology, and Landscape students. Both Dutch and international students are welcome.