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C. Emdad Haque, Fikret Berkes, Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, Helen Ross, F. Stuart Chapin III, Brent Doberstein, Maureen G. Reed, Nirupama Agrawal, Prateep K. Nayak, David Etkin, Michel Doré and David Hutton
The plethora of contributions to social learning has resulted in a wide range of interpretations, meanings and applications of social learning, both within and across…
The plethora of contributions to social learning has resulted in a wide range of interpretations, meanings and applications of social learning, both within and across disciplines. However, advancing the concept and using social learning methods and tools in areas like disaster-shocks requires interdisciplinary consolidation of understandings. In this context, the primary focus of this paper is on the contributions of social learning to disaster risk reduction (DRR).
By applying a three-round policy Delphi process involving 18 purposefully selected scholars and expert-practitioners, the authors collected data on the meanings of social learning for two groups of professionals, DRR and social-ecological resilience. The survey instruments included questions relating to the identification of the core elements of social learning and the prospects for enhancing social-ecological resilience.
The results revealed strong agreement that (1) the core elements of social learning indicate a collective, iterative and collaborative process that involves sharing/networking, changes in attitudes and knowledge and inclusivity; (2) social learning from disasters is unique; and (3) linkages between disciplines can be built by promoting interdisciplinarity, networks and knowledge platforms; collaboration and coordination at all levels; and teaching and practicing trust and respect. Social learning is useful in preparing for and responding to specific disaster events through communication; sharing experience, ideas and resources; creating synergies for collective action and promoting resilience.
The policy Delphi process involved a limited number of participants to control the quality of the data. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first of its kind to identify the core elements of social learning, specifically, in the disaster-shock context. It also makes significant contributions to the interdisciplinary integration issues.
The practical implications of this study are related to pre-disaster planning and mitigation through the application of social learning on disaster-shocks.
The social implications of this study are related to valuing social learning for the improvement of disaster planning, management, and policy formulation and implementation in reducing disaster risks.
The study provides a consensus view on the core elements of social learning and its role in DRR and resilience building. Relevant to all stages of DRR, social learning is best characterized as a collective, iterative and collaborative process. It can be promoted by enhancing networking and interdisciplinarity.