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Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture (390-0-21)


Sociology of Disaster


Rebecca Rose Ewert

Meeting Info

University Hall 101: Mon, Wed 12:30PM - 1:50PM

Overview of class

"Sociology of Disaster" Disasters are catastrophic events with human and natural causes and may be gradual or sudden and unexpected. What these events share is their potential to disrupt communities, displace residents, and cause economic, emotional, and social suffering. We know that disasters are on the rise globally and in the US, incurring significant economic and social consequences. The aim of this course is to understand how disasters like pandemics, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, plane crashes, oil spills, and terrorism provide a "strategic research site" where we can examine social life and inequality. In this course, students will be introduced to the idea that disasters are fundamentally social events. We will focus on the social, political, and economic conditions that influence disaster experience and recovery, paying special attention to the ways that social characteristics like race, class, gender, and age structure social vulnerability to risk before, during, and after disasters. In learning to think critically about prevailing media representations of disasters, students will master content analysis methodology by engaging in a term-long research project in which they study one recent disaster event and the associated media coverage. This is an introductory level course without any prerequisites.

Learning Objectives

Course-Specific Goals: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 1. Understand key concepts and theories in the sociology disasters 2. Critically think about prevailing and alternative media portrayals of disasters 3. Gain an in-depth knowledge of one major disaster through empirical research (content analysis) 4. Analyze media reports and public discourse using social scientific theories about disaster and inequalities Academic Development Goals: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 1. Effectively communicate with classmates and instructors in a respectful manner conducive of learning and collaboration. 2. Engage in critical, analytical thinking and writing. 3. Identify components of academic argument."