Moving from 2015 to 2030: challenges and opportunities for higher education

Richard Haigh (University of Salford, Salford, Manchester, United Kingdom AND Global Disaster Resilience Centre, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom)
Dilanthi Amaratunga (School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 14 September 2015



Haigh, R. and Amaratunga, D. (2015), "Moving from 2015 to 2030: challenges and opportunities for higher education", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 6 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Moving from 2015 to 2030: challenges and opportunities for higher education

Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Volume 6, Issue 3

In recognition of the vital role that the higher education sector has in promoting inclusive resilience knowledge, the ANDROID disaster resilience network was established in 2011 (Academic Network for Disaster Resilience to Optimise EducatIonal Development). The network was set up to promote co-operation and innovation among European Higher Education and, in doing so, to increase society’s resilience to disasters of human and natural origin. An underlying tenet of ANDROID is that higher education should be more innovative, providing opportunities to work in close collaboration with industry, communities, humanitarian agencies, private sectors and other higher education institutions.

The ANDROID Network was funded under the EU Lifelong Learning Programme. With a budget of nearly €7 billion for 2007 to 2013, the programme funded a range of actions, including exchanges, study visits and networking activities. Projects were intended not only for individual students and learners, but also for teachers, trainers and all others involved in education and training.

The first ANDROID work plan ran from 2011 to 2015. It set out to gather a wide and advanced set of competencies in the field of disaster resilience, sharing knowledge, discussing methodologies, disseminating good practices and producing and promoting innovation. It aimed to achieve these goals by bringing together a range of addressing topics of direct relevance for European Union policy.

The network brought together a consortium of multidisciplinary scientists and inter-sectorial partners. The academic partners comprised scientists from applied, human, social and natural disciplines. These partners from across higher education were chosen for their complementary skills, expertise and competences to identify and understand the varied attributes of resilience that underpin the capability and capacity of a community to cope with the threat posed by natural and human hazards. The consortium also had major international organisations as partners, including the UNISDR, and a Stakeholder Advisory Board that includes representatives from key actors in disaster management. In recognition of the global impact of disasters and the complex nature of their causes, which frequently require international action to address them, alongside the 64 European partners from 28 countries, the consortium also included partners from Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka, who contributed specific scientific expertise.

The network’s teaching and research has been concerned with what resilience is, what it means to society and how societies might achieve greater resilience in the face of increasing threats from natural and human-induced hazards. The network has been seeking to create a European approach that will help us understand the attributes that enable physical, socio-cultural, politico-economic and natural systems to adapt, by resistance or changing to reach and maintain an acceptable level of functioning. The network has also been raising awareness and promoting a common understanding among stakeholders of the importance of disaster resilience education and the essential role of European Higher Education in improving society’s ability to increase disaster resilience.

At the outset, three objectives were identified for the network:

1. 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;

2. describe, analyse, and compare the capacity of European cities and HE to address disaster risk, and thereby reinforce the link between education and society; and

3. build the capacity of HE to address emerging challenges in disaster resilience, strengthen the link between research and teaching, and inform policy development.

A detailed overview of the ANDROID work plan and associated outputs can be found on the network website:

A major output of the network’s first work plan, published earlier this year to coincide with the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, was a roadmap for European education that brings together existing literature in the field, as well as the results of various analyses and study projects undertaken by project partners.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 aims to achieve the substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health, and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries over the next 15 years.

It has been recognised that the success of this post-2015 framework hinges on creating and implementing policies that are built on the best available knowledge. Higher education has a vital role in supporting this move to a more disaster-resilient society by 2030.

The ANDROID roadmap considers the challenges and opportunities that must be addressed by higher education in Europe if it is to effectively support the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. It identifies that the prime focus must be that the policy–science gap is closed with research that can be translated to action. Research studies document a trend of increasing disaster losses, but the translation of research findings into practical actions has proven to be difficult and remains a barrier that prevents the best use of science.

There remains a recognised need for higher education, through researchers and educators, to provide and communicate actionable knowledge with explicit links to inform effective, evidence-based decision-making.

As well as creating new knowledge, higher education has a vital role to play in capacity development and, in doing so, providing a means by which effective knowledge transfer can take place.

The roadmap identifies five critical opportunities and challenges for higher education:

1. linking research, education and action;

2. integrating all hazards, stakeholders and disciplines;

3. collaborating regionally and globally;

4. facilitating policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and capacity development; and

5. developing flexible and customisable education programmes.

The roadmap considers some of the critical barriers and actions required for higher education to tackle these issues and thereby contribute to the new Sendai Framework.

A copy of the full roadmap can be downloaded from the network website at

In the opening scientific paper of Volume 6, Issue 3, Bond investigates residents’ perceptions of risk towards owning and living in residential property in Christchurch subsequent to the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes to identify how these perceptions impact on the price residents are willing to pay for affected property. The results indicate that with the recent earthquake experience, residents are demonstrating risk mitigation behaviours through an aversion to investing in properties affected by, or with a risk of, liquefaction.

In the second paper, Akujuru and Ruddock report on a study aimed at identifying the consequences of adopting statutory rather than market basis in assessing damages due to contamination to land. The results of the analysis indicate that the use of compulsory acquisition valuation methods results in inadequate damages which engender conflicts among the stakeholders. The absence of any framework for damage assessment is responsible for the current practice in the Niger Delta, and it is recommended that international best practices utilising market basis of valuation be adopted.

Next, Korstanje and George explore the world of insurances as rites of adaptancy and resiliency before risk and disasters. They find that the relation between anticipated risks and insurance purchase behaviour has not received sufficient attention. In the present study, they start from the premise that societies may be studied by examining their fears and posit that these fears are represented in the insurance premiums people buy for being protected.

The fourth paper in the issue, by Ahmed and Charlesworth, starts from the basis that after disasters, maximum resources are often allocated for housing reconstruction and most initiatives on disaster-resilient housing have arisen after disasters. With widespread claims by agencies of having “built back better”, they identify that it is important to establish an evaluation framework that allows understanding to what extent resilience has been successfully achieved in such housing projects. This paper discusses such a tool developed by the authors.

Espada, Apan and McDougall present a novel approach that examines the vulnerability and interdependency of critical infrastructures using the network theory in geographic information system (GIS) setting in combination with literature and government reports. Specifically, the objectives of this study were:

  • to generate the network models of critical infrastructure systems (CIS), particularly electricity, roads and sewerage networks;

  • to characterize the CIS’ interdependencies; and

  • to outline the climate adaptation and flood mitigation measures of CIS.

In the penultimate paper of the issue, Achour, Pantzartzis, Pascale and Price explore the challenges associated with the integration of resilience and sustainability, and propose a workable solution that ensures resilient and sustainable buildings. The major finding of this research is that, from a technical point of view, resilience and sustainability could be integrated.

The seventh and final paper, contributed by Nirupama, Popper and Quirke, analyses a few recent earthquakes, provides insights into the role of social resilience in the severity of disaster impact and offers plausible approaches to mitigate future disaster impact.

The issue concludes with a book review by Korstanje on Disaster and Tragic Events, An Encyclopaedia of Catastrophes in American History by Mitchell Newton-Matza.

Richard Haigh - University of Salford, Salford, Manchester, UK and Global Disaster Resilience Centre, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK

Dilanthi Amaratunga - School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK