Disaster Resilience and Response Through a Planetary Health Lens

Unit code: VPH6003 | Study level: Postgraduate
(Generally, 1 credit = 10 hours of classes and independent study.)
Online Real Time


Expansionist and extractive human cultures and behaviours have put pressure on the planet leading to climate change, environmental degradation, infectious disease and social inequality.  This has led to an unprecedented increase in the occurrence, magnitude, complexity of consequences of disasters which calls for a fundamental re-examination of how we conceptualise, define and manage disasters and how we reduce the risk, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Applying a planetary health lens, and within the context of current national and global scenarios, this unit takes a broad and specific exploration of resilience and responses to emergencies and disasters. 
Informed by transdisciplinary approaches and professional experiences, as well as contested First Nation sovereignties, the unit critically reviews concepts including vulnerability, risk ownership and reduction, preparedness, mitigation and developing resilient communities and systems. The focus is upon principles, approaches, systems, ethical and value frames, and, importantly, upon partnerships across disciplines and professions. Developing the capabilities of the existing workforce, including emergency, health and community workers, in disaster risk reduction and response is a particular focus of the unit.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Conceptually map and analyse vulnerabilities to emergencies and disasters including risk assessment amongst diverse populations and communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia and First Nations peoples internationally;
  2. Interrogate contemporary sources of data and discourse on disaster management through a planetary health lens;
  3. Advocate for the use of specific and practical frameworks and tools to inform disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and recovery that fosters ownership and builds resistance;
  4. Exemplify a transdisciplinary and planetary health informed strategic response to emergencies and disasters;
  5. Interpret statements of ethics, human rights and codes of conduct in disaster management and hypothesise their practical impact.

Study as a single unit

This unit can be studied on its own, without enrolling in a full degree.

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For Melbourne campuses

Assessment type: Report
Grade: 35%
Compose a report from a localised or place-based perspective of a disaster risk reduction or response
Assessment type: Performance
Grade: 50%
Group simulation on transdisciplinary disaster response
Assessment type: Presentation
Grade: 15%
Debate on ethical dilemmas in disasters

Required reading

Required readings will be made available via VU Collaborate.

As part of a course

This unit is not compulsory for any specific course. Depending on the course you study, this unit may be taken as an elective.

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