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Sustainable Communities 
after Disasters

John W. McCormack Graduate School of
Policy and
Global Studies


CRSCAD Newsletter
May 2012

Dear Partners, Friends, and Colleagues,


CRSCAD in IRAQ, signs an MOU Adenrele Awotona.2011 photo


University College (UC) and CRSCAD are pleased to announce that the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) has signed an Academic Unit Specific Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Salahaddin University-Erbil, Kurdistan Region in Iraq (SUH).


Under the provisions of the MOU, University College (UC) and CRSCAD will work collaboratively with SUH to promote the following activities: study-abroad programs in various formats for students, faculty, and staff; transnational research activities of both faculty and students, as well as staff researchers; the exchange and sharing of instructional and academic research-related information and academic publications; and, third party funded educational and research activities.  


Furthermore, UC, CRSCAD, and SUH will organize joint international workshops, conferences and seminars on Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery Planning involving city and state officials, community members, and leaders. The MOU will also enable all the three participating academic units to work on cooperative applied research initiatives in Iraq and the USA in post-disaster reconstruction, historic preservation, architecture, urban planning, and sustainable development, among others. They will promote online projects, both as independent initiatives and as delivery components integrated into other projects, as appropriate. Iraqi students would also have the opportunity to study at UMass Boston in the graduate certificate programs in Global Post-Disaster Studies.


Within the context of this MOU, I recently paid a second visit to SUH in March/April 2012 to present a paper and lead a workshop. My brief report on these activities appears below.







Adenrele Awotona

Founding Director and Professor



Professor Awotona's Report  

on Workshop in Iraq and Conference on Iraq in Washington, DC    


In March 2012, I was at the University of Salahaddin (SUH) to participate in the Erbil Forum's 2nd international conference on Sustainable Urban Transportation. I presented a paper on "Rebuilding Erbil with Quality; Rebuilding Erbil Sustainably" examining a number of basic questions which decision makers in Erbil must ask, and find answers to, in order to begin to rebuild the city sustainably. It then proposed that Erbil should be rebuilt with public-private sector partnerships, commitment, and the participation of representatives from all key segments of the community  in the planning and implementation processes. The paper concluded by outlining some basic concrete guidelines for local viable urban development in Erbil. 


On April 1, 2012, I led a workshop at SUH on the role of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the holistic development of urban areas. The workshop examined urban configurations as data layers for GIS description and analysis, land-use planning, transport and settlement patterns and spatial depiction of urban development forms. The participants included senior Iraqi government officials, graduate students and university personnel as well as academics and practitioners. I, indeed, owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Mahmood Khayat, head of Post-Graduate Studies in the Department of Architecture at SUH, for facilitating the workshop; to Hoshiar Nooraddin for organizing the conference and all the workshops; and, to H.E. Ahmed Dezaye, the president of SUH, for inviting me to Erbil and for his lavish cordiality.


Earlier, in February 2012, I participated in a two-day Iraqi-American Universities Conference at the invitation of the Iraqi Embassy in Washington DC. In attendance were several university presidents and higher education officials from Iraq, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, senior officials of the U.S. Departments of Education and State, and representatives of some U.S. universities. The conference explored ways in which U.S. universities could support higher education in Iraq. Among the conference topics that various distinguished speakers addressed were Trends in Higher Education in Iraq and the U.S., Iraqi Scholarship Programs, Building Partnership between U.S. and Iraqi Universities (research collaborations, initiating and sustaining institutional linkages), as well as the Challenges and Opportunities facing American Educational Organizations Working in Iraq.



CRSCAD Announces Summer Institute in China


A 6-credit, 2- course program


CRSCAD 503:   Topics in Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters

CRSCAD 596* Independent Study (online or on campus)



The Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (CRSCAD), in collaboration with University College, offers a unique opportunity to study, and experience first-hand, best practices and successful examples of post-disaster community building in various parts of the world.


Hosted by Sichuan University, participants will spend two intensive weeks in Chengdu, learning about various dimensions of post-disaster reconstruction. In addition to lectures, research, and case studies, students will have field trips the Dujiangyan Irrigation System and Sanxingdui Museum. The Dujiangyan Irrigation System has been constructed to reclaim lands ravaged by the flooding of the Minjang River. The area, once decimated, has through the lengthy study and hard work of the local people, resulted in the Chengdu Plain where people have been living peacefully and affluently. The project is honored as the "Treasure of the Sichuan" and plays a crucial role in draining off floodwater, irrigating farms and providing water resources for more than 50 cities in the province.


 Read more about the Summer Institute in China here.


*Approval expected in spring 2012.    



The Fourth Nationwide  

"Earthquake and Safety"  

Drill in Iranian Kindergartens


 The fourth nationwide "Earthquake and Safety" drill, a component of the joint agreement between Iran's International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES) and its State Welfare Organization is to be held May 7 in Iranian kindergartens. This exercise aims to strengthen the safety culture in the society.  "Earthquake and Safety" drills have been practiced in most kindergartens in the country annually on May 7, since 2000.  


One form of the drill to be performed in central parks consists of two steps:


1)       Children walk from identified places in the park while singing the "Earthquake and Safety" song together. They carry boards which have safety messages on them while parading in the park. Examples of these messages are: 

-          Stay away from windows and tall shelves during earthquakes

-           Our country is an earthquake prone area, so we need to be prepared for earthquakes, etc.

2)       Children gather in a particular area for special activities including earthquake and safety songs, competitions, workshops, and performances related to issues such as earthquake and safety as well as preparedness.


Ten to 20 children from each kindergarten and interested volunteers take part in this program in parks in Tehran and other cities. A small necklace is given to each child attending the drill.  A card is also given to each child that contains the following information; the child's name, age, whether the child has a specific health problem or is sensitive to any medicine, blood group, home telephone number and address and telephone number of a relative living in the same city or any nearby cities. Parents are informed about the importance of these cards.  


Another form of the drills is done in schools, led by the teachers in the kndergartens. These activities are presented in simple ways so that children do not become frightened.


On the whole, the main objectives of holding these "Earthquake and Safety" drills are to:


1)       Increase children's and teachers' knowledge about earthquakes

2)       Develop preparedness for correct and quick performance during earthquake impacts

3)       Expand the culture of safety against earthquakes

4)       Reduce the disastrous consequences of earthquakes.   






Japan: One Year Later


One year after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan continues to rebuild its communities while the Japanese people continue to rebuild their lives.


Nature, the international journal of science, offers multiple perspectives on aspects of the response and rebuilding efforts including the latest news from the Fukishima plant.


Read more  



Not Enough Funding Directed to Disaster Risk Reduction,  

Says New Report


Disaster Risk Reduction: Spending where it should count is a new report released in March by the UK-based organization, Humanitarian Assistance, which tracks global spending on aid.  One key finding noted "Only 19 of the top 40 humanitarian recipients are also in the top 40 for overall development aid. This suggests that too many countries are missing out on the long-term development financing that is considered a prerequisite for DRR in our bifurcated model of aid." 


Read an article about the report from AlertNet


Read the report


Study in Latin America Shows Importance of Pets in Emergency Evacuation


Contrary to a widespread belief that pets are less important to owners in developing countries, this study demonstrates the importance of reuniting owners and pets in post-disaster settings.  


Read more 


In This Issue
CRSCAD Announces Summer Institute in China
"Earthquake and Safety" Drill in Iranian Kindergartens
Japan: One Year Later
"Not Enough Funding Directed to Disaster Risk Reduction"
Study in Latin America Shows Importance of Pets in Emergency Evacuation


November 15-16, 2012

In 2010, China "experienced more major reported disasters" than any other country, noted the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström. The goal of this conference is to share the knowledge of best practices and lessons learned by China with the international community, with a focus on reducing the socio-economic impact of various forms of disasters on vulnerable communities. An entire session will also be devoted to examining case studies of best practices in post-disaster reconstruction from around the world.


Conference flyer in English 




Summer Registration  
is now open  

Online Courses

This course will provide students with a broad overview of challenges faced by migrant and refugee populations that have been displaced by socio-political upheavals and natural disasters.

CRSCAD 503: Topics in Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters    

Students will focus on a guided project of their choosing and approved by the program director. Suggested topics include: what happens after the cameras leave?; social vulnerability analysis; theoretical and policy debates; and the roles of public, private and community- based organizations in rebuilding post-disaster.  


CRSCAD 596: Independent
Study in Global Post-Disaster Studies

In this guided independent study will allow the student to choose and explore an area of strong interest in global post-disaster studies that is not covered by available courses.

*Approval expected in spring 2012. 

PRFTRN093: Performance Management in Government and Non-Profits
This course explores what performance management means and how government agencies can adopt this management approach.

This course provides professionals with the essential skills needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive job market. This highly interactive course combines expert instruction with case studies and team exercises. (On campus in summer, online in the fall)

To read more about the courses visit our website.   



Rebuilding Sustainable Communities in Iraq 

This important CRSCAD book examines how Iraqi communities can be rebuilt in a manner that promotes social justice, economic sustainability, and full participation of all stakeholders.  Contributing authors look at rebuilding Iraq from the perspective of many disciplines.  Edited by Professor Adenrele Awotona, the book is available from Cambridge Scholars Publishing.  

Revisiting the International Convention on Refugees

This analysis asks the question: "Can an international convention drafted 60 years ago to protect a limited number of Europeans uprooted by World War II continue to provide protection to the millions of people around the world today forced to flee their countries for a variety of reasons?"  


Read more 

How to Rebuild a City: Field Guide from a Work  

in Progress 


"Field Guide is a collection from and for those who, after devastating chaos, chose creative ways to rebuild their families and communities," writes Kate Cutrer, special projects officer for Rebuilding Together-New Orleans. This collection of perspectives from over 100 local writers and artists was the idea of New Orleans City Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer and her husband Bobby.   


Read more

Editorial Committee

Contributions, suggestions, and feedback about the newsletter are welcome and should be sent to any of the following members of the Editorial Committee:


  • Adenrele Awotona (Editor and Chair) 
  • Amanda Achin (Design and Distribution)
  • Jennifer Clifford
  • Victor Dzidzienyo  
  • Katharine Galaitsis
  • Yasamin Izadkhah
  • Amal Mohammed Hassan Jamal 
  • Muna Killingback
  • Olga Lauterbach
  • Oluwatoyin Ilesanmi  


Telephone: 617.287.7116


Stay connected with CRSCAD 

About  CRSCAD:

Our mission is to work in close collaboration with practitioners, academics, researchers, policy makers, and grassroots organizations on all the continents of the world in their search for the most appropriate and sustainable ways to rebuild their communities after disasters.

University of Massachusetts
McCormack Hall, 3rd floor, Room 612
Boston, Massachusetts 02125
Telephone: 617.287.7116