Many potential disasters have occurred or appear imminent in recent years: pandemics, climate catastrophes, military or terrorist catastrophes. Is there anything you’re most worried about? Conversely, do you think society is better prepared now than it was 20 years ago?
To someone like me, this may seem a bit out of character, but honestly, we are better prepared for all of this. We have invested a lot of money and effort in response, countermeasures and information analysis systems, which have been very helpful. Although I am critical of our approach to disaster management, I know we are better today than we were yesterday.The problem is that we are not ready yet should Gain everything we invest and everything we know. We need to think about how we can be better prepared for tomorrow than we are today.
What books have you read recently and which ones would you recommend and why?
Two books that I always recommend are strategic paradox Author: Michael E. Raynor, and Tablets and Pens: The Literary Landscape of the Modern Middle Eastedited by Reza Aslam.
strategic paradox Looks at the need to manage uncertainty and how we are often forced to make commitments before we have enough information. It proposes different techniques for structuring uncertainty and ultimately overcoming paradoxes by creating and sustaining options rather than committing prematurely. This is a valuable skill in disaster management, and I have found myself using these methods both professionally and personally throughout the pandemic.
Tablet and pen is a translation project that collects poetry, short stories and other literary works from different eras in the Middle East. Each chapter begins with a brief description of what was happening geopolitically during that era. The remainder of each chapter is a work written at that time. It’s amazing to see the depth of emotion and the type of writing that is written on the back of global events, but often without speaking openly about these events. This approach creates a new perspective on the feelings of many people in every era by exploring the funny, tragic, and otherwise relatable. It’s an important window into past experiences, and this book captures my experiences in a way that few others can.
What’s next on your reading list?
Mostly emails, discussion board posts, and class assignments.But in my free time I read Cities at War: Global Insecurity and Urban Resistance Edited by Mary Kaldor and Saskia Sasson.
What are you teaching this fall?
This fall, I teach a course called “Climate Change and Disaster Management.”it is Master’s Program in Climate and Society This is the first course for students in the program in the new professional area of Disaster Risk Management. This course covers a range of areas related to disasters and how together they impact how we prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters.
You are hosting a dinner party. What three thinkers, dead or living, would you invite and why? Is there anyone in history who you think has a deep and helpful insight into disaster preparedness?
I was lucky enough to take a course with playwright Ntozake Shane as an undergraduate. She exposed us to new works and perspectives that truly reshaped my academic trajectory. I love her perspective on where we are now and where we are going.
I know humor columnist Erma Bombeck mainly because her quotes are funny and to the point. I’d love to hear more and I think she’ll also be insightful and have some much-needed humor in the conversation.
I don’t know who the third one was, but he was the leader of a historical catastrophe. Maybe it was the Baron during the Black Death, or President Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression. None of these historical figures are praised for their success and leadership. I worry that I might end up being disappointed by their egos and flaws. But I hope someone fails and is wise enough to reflect, or double down and illustrate the red flags of leadership in the face of uncertainty that makes things worse.