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Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga and Dr Richard Haigh have secured an initial three year grant, worth 790,513 EURO, to establish the Academic Network for Disaster Resilience to Optimise educational Development (ANDROID). The grant has been obtained from the EU Life Long Learning programme, under the Erasmus networks action. ANDROID brings together inter-disciplinary scientists and inter-sectorial partners based at European higher education institutes, local and national government, and international organisations. The partners, sixty seven at the network’s inception, will work together to deliver a challenging programme of activities. The network has representatives from thirty one countries, twenty eight in the EU, as well as organisations from Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka. 

Giving some background to the project Richard said: “ANDROID is concerned with what resilience is, what it means to society, and how society might achieve greater resilience in the face of increasing threats from natural and human induced hazards. The term resilience has been widely adopted in research, policy and practice to describe the way in which they would like to reduce society’s susceptibility to the threat posed by hazards. Resilience has also been used freely across a range of academic disciplines, including materials, ecology, economics and sociology. Increasingly people are aware that while change is sometimes gradual and that things can move forward in continuous and predictable ways, change can also be sudden, disorganising and turbulent. Resilience provides better understanding of how society should respond to disruptive events and accommodate change. The complex nature of disasters has led to recognition that risk reduction through increased resilience will require a strategy that is inter-disciplinary. True inter-disciplinarity only occurs where a number of separate disciplines surrender their own concepts and goals, and collectively define themselves by reference to a common set of strategic concepts and goals. This network will help us to understand the attributes that enable physical, socio-cultural, politico-economic and natural systems to adapt, by resistance or changing, in order to reach and maintain an acceptable level of functioning”. 

In order to achieve this aim, the network will promote discourse among European applied, human, social and natural scientists to, pool their results and findings, discuss methods and develop inter-disciplinary explanations that increase society’s resilience to disasters. The partners will also seek to describe, analyse, and compare the capacity of European cities and higher education to address disaster risk, and thereby reinforce the link between education and society. Ultimately Dilanthi and Richard expect that the network will build the capacity of higher education to address emerging challenges in disaster resilience, strengthen the link between research and teaching, and inform policy development. 

The network has set itself challenging, but necessary outcomes, during this ambitious work programme set out over three years. At its heart a virtual network platform will be developed to help manage and coordinate partners. The network will undertake a number of survey exercises aimed at capturing and sharing innovative approaches to inter-disciplinary working, surveying European education to map programmes in disaster resilience, and analyse the capacity of European public administrators to address disaster risk. Special interest groups will be established to address emerging concerns, while an inter-disciplinary doctoral school will help to develop the long term capacity of society to address them. Research and teaching resources that are developing through such activities will be hosted as open education resources, making them freely available outside the network.

 

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