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INT2055 - Global Disasters: Impact, Inquiry and Change

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Mark Peel


Caulfield First semester 2007 (Day)
Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


This unit examines the history of significant disasters since the late nineteenth century. Beginning with the eruption of Krakatoa, each case study examines the process of inquiry and debates over changes to mitigate future catastrophic impacts. Disasters encourage societies to examine causes, solutions and risks, and spark debates about how to render people less vulnerable. The case studies include natural as well as 'man-made' catastrophes, with both short- and long-term impacts. By examining real disasters, and ideas about potential disasters-such as asteroid impact or climate change-it also explores the ways in which disasters have been used to explore a range of possible global futures.


The unit aims to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the role of disasters in shaping ideas about vulnerability, social change, responsibility and mitigation in the modern world, with a particular focus on issues of global governance, connection and culture. It aims to further develop themes explored in the first-year sequence in International Studies, and to introduce themes and concepts that feature in the core Level 4 unit in that discipline. In addition, the unit also aims to develop students' skills in both independent research and writing and collaborative research and presentation. Specifically, students successfully completing INT2055 will be expected to demonstrate:

  1. a comprehensive understanding of the role that specific disasters and disasters in general have played in the development of global knowledge, institutions and governance;
  2. a thorough knowledge of the ways in which the processes of inquiry generated by disasters have explored issues of responsibility, mitigation, risk, vulnerability and social change;
  3. a critical understanding of the various interpretations that inform the historical and contemporary analysis of these phenomena;
  4. a stronger understanding of the relationship between fictional and non-fictional representations of disasters and arguments about social, political and economic change
  5. enhanced skills in the critical and analytical reading of a variety of texts, including contemporary documents, polemical literature, historical scholarship visual representations and web-based evidence, and specifically the development of skills in source criticism, critical reading, the development of research and writing skills, especially the use of evidence and primary sources, analysing different intepretations of an event or issue, organising and defending an argument, and writing with precision and imagination; and
  6. the capacity to work with others in a collaborative research project and presentation;


Source criticism exercise (500 words) : 10%
Class test (1 hour) : 20%
Report (500 words) : 20%
Research essay (2500) : 50%

Contact hours

1 x90-minute lecture and 1 x1-hour tutorial per week