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UD profs, students contribute to new book on disaster research

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Havidán Rodríguez (standing), vice provost for academic affairs and international programs and former director of UD’s Disaster Research Center (DRC), with DRC co-founders Enrico Quarantelli (left), professor emeritus of sociology, and Russell Dynes, professor emeritus of sociology.
UD photo by Duane Perry

Three University of Delaware professors recently edited a landmark book, Handbook of Disaster Research. Havidán Rodríguez, vice provost for academic affairs and international programs and former director of UD's Disaster Research Center (DRC), Russell Dynes, professor emeritus of sociology, and Enrico Quarantelli, professor emeritus of sociology, who also wrote chapters in the book, are among nine UD professors, doctoral candidates, a graduate student and one alumna in a diverse and international group of contributors to the publication.

Rodríguez, professor of sociology, said the book, which is based on the principle that disasters are social constructions and focuses on social science disaster research, is a timely and much-needed contribution to the field, especially in the wake of recent disasters, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, terrorist bombings in London and Madrid, Hurricane Katrina, the Pakistan earthquake, floods in Central America and landslides in Indonesia.

“These recent disasters and the hazardous conditions that provided the context for them are also further reminders of the importance of social science hazards and disaster research for extending our understanding on how human society copes with risks and actual events when they occur,” William Anderson, associate executive director in the Division on Earth and Life Studies, and director of the Disasters Roundtable at the U.S. National Academies/National Research Council, wrote in the foreword.

The book examines issues dealing with the concept of a disaster and methodological issues relating to research on disasters, including geographic information systems as a useful research tool and its implications for future research; how disaster research is increasingly being used in the emergency management curriculum; and how research is useful in dealing with emergency operations.

Published by Springer, the book includes essays focusing on various types of vulnerabilities, as well as discussions on community processes that are evoked by disasters, including warnings, search and rescue, coordination, organizational adaptation, dealing with death and injury, recovery and the role of the media in disasters.

Rodríguez said the book is a valuable reference for social scientists studying the effects of disasters on humans, as well as for sociologists, public health specialists, demographers, economists and political scientists.

Media contact: Martin Mbugua, (302) 831-8749, [mbugua@udel.edu]
March 5, 2007