World BOSAI Forum 2023 facilitates forward-looking visits to Japanese APRU members
APRU Chief Executive, Prof Thomas Schneider, spoke at The World BOSAI Forum 2023 / International Disaster and Risk Conference 2023, held between March 10 to 12 in Sendai, Japan. The global event served as a valuable opportunity for APRU to underscore its commitment to disaster resilience and represent APRU and its constituents of 60 universities through dialogue among industry, government, and academia. On the heels of the Bosai Forum, the APRU leadership team was also focused on visiting the six APRU member universities of Japan. Visiting the senior leadership of Keio University, Waseda University, Nagoya University, Osaka University, Kyushu University, and Tohoku University, APRU leaders (APRU Chief Executive Thomas Schneider; APRU’s Chief Strategy Officer, Christina Schönleber; and APRU Senior Director Student & Network Programs, Adriana Rojas) discussed the wide range of innovative projects that influence globalization and the future cooperation within the APRU network. Universities’ recommendations included developing frameworks for sustainably bringing geographically diverse members together as a cornerstone of APRU’s network. Universities cited existing and successful APRU programs, such as Asia-Pacific Women in Leadership (APWiL), Multi-hazards, Global Health and University Museums, for being appropriate precursors for the new framework. “We are extremely grateful to return to Hong Kong with this wealth of solid input and will use it as a basis for informing our strategic focus,” APRU Chief Executive Schneider said. “APRU will continue to serve, more indispensably than ever before, as a platform of dialogue and a power of change across the Pacific. It is more than a super-connector – it is a super-translator, translating between different cultures and mentalities, and translating ideas into action,” he added. The World BOSAI Forum is the outcome of an agreement by the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) as part of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which came against the backdrop of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. The Sendai Framework incorporates many disaster risk reduction (DRR) concepts promoted in Japan, such as the importance of investment in disaster reduction and the need to “Build Back Better” after a disaster event. One of APRU’s key collaborative initiatives in the realm of DRR is the Multi-Hazards program, which Tohoku University hosts. In Sendai, APRU Chief Executive Schneider gave a panel lecture outlining the history of collaboration between Tohoku University’s International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) and APRU. The timing could not have been better, given that 2023 marks the Multi- Hazards Program’s 10th anniversary. “The Association of Pacific Rim Universities is committed to addressing the new disaster risk-scape with its increasingly complex, overlapping, and cascading hazards, and data kindly provided by Elsevier indicate that 12% of global scholarship in disaster sciences is produced in APRU member universities,” Schneider said. “With Tohoku University as its hub for the Multi-Hazards program, APRU has established a trans- Pacific network of experts, practitioners, and partner organizations that together will build a more resilient future for the Asia-Pacific,” he added. Keio University (R to L) Vice President Akiyo Okuda, Vice President Motohiro Tsuchiya, President Kohei Itoh, Dr. Thomas Schneider (APRU Chief Exec.), Ms Christina Schönleber (APRU Chief Strategy Officer), Ms Adriana Rojas (APRU Senior Director) Waseda University (L to R) Vice President Masahiko Gemma, Dean Kate Elwood, President Aiji Tanaka, Dr. Thomas Schneider (APRU Chief Exec.), Ms Adriana Rojas (APRU Senior Director), Ms Christina Schönleber (APRU Chief Strategy Officer) Nagoya University (L to R) Prof Jiro Takai, Vice Presidential Advisor Hideji Kasuya (Vice Dean of Medical School), Chancellor’s Advisor and VP Norimi Mizutani, President Naoshi Sugiyama, Dr. Thomas Schneider (APRU Chief Exec.), Ms Christina Schönleber (APRU Chief Strategy Officer), Ms Adriana Rojas (APRU Senior Director) Oasaka University (R to L) Dr Ariunaa Enkhtur ,(Specially Appointed Ass. Prof. Center for Global Engagement), Exec Director Mayumi Ishikawa, Prof Beverly A Yamamoto (Osaka University UNESCO Chair in Global Health and Education), Executive Vice President Genta Kawahara, Dr. Thomas Schneider (APRU Chief Exec.), Ms Christina Schönleber (APRU Chief Strategy Officer), Ms Adriana Rojas (APRU Senior Director) Kyushu University (R to L) Exec. Director Satoshi Tsuzuki (International Affairs Office), Vice President Natalie Konomi, Exec Vice President Kenji Iwata, President Tatsuro Ishibashi, Dr. Thomas Schneider (APRU Chief Exec.), Ms Adriana Rojas (APRU Senior Director), Ms Christina Schönleber (APRU Chief Strategy Officer) Tohoku University (L to R) Prof. Takako Izumi, Prof Fumihiko Imamura, Executive Vice President Toshiya Ueki, President Hideo Ohno, Dr. Thomas Schneider (APRU Chief Exec.), Ms Christina Schönleber (APRU Chief Strategy Officer), Ms Adriana Rojas (APRU Senior Director). Find out a news article here published by Tohoku University.
March 29, 2023more
Multi-Hazards Workshop Tackles Gaps in Localization
Dozens of national and international experts gathered at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in late February for the APRU 2023 Multi-Hazards Workshop to find ways for the further improvement of disaster risk management capacity at the local level in Asia-Pacific. Co-led by the APRU Multi-Hazards Program based at Tohoku University, the workshop focused on emergency response, all-hazards approach, early warning/risk communication, and inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR) that urgently requires further efforts for localization. “The multidisciplinary aspect of this workshop demonstrates that APRU is an international consortium well-positioned to be highly effective in bringing together the latest research findings and experiences from diverse contexts to tackle global challenges,” said APRU Chief Executive Dr Thomas Schneider in his welcome address. “Our aim is to assist DRR localization and showcase solutions that raise public awareness and bring social good,” he added. The workshop speakers and guests visited the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Top outcomes from the four-panel discussions include that it is critical to invest in developing relationships and trust between local communities, first responders, military, academia, and government. Participants pointed out that all-hazards approaches that integrate local and Indigenous knowledge and grassroots efforts provide highly beneficial frameworks to respond effectively as disasters become increasingly complex. It was also found that new methods are required to address the needs of women, children, elderly, disabled, and low-income individuals. Participants expressed optimism that data-sharing and new technologies of AI will be able to assist people in responding more effectively in times of disaster. “This workshop underscores the significant role that local governments and communities play when dealing with disasters,” said UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno. “Involving these groups, particularly local emergency response practitioners, in the development of disaster risk reduction preparedness strategies and early response efforts for their regions will result in actionable plans that are better adapted and responsive to the needs of each area,” he added. As one of APRU’s most successful and long-standing programs, the Multi-Hazards Program brought expertise and knowledge of DRR to this workshop, creating a unique opportunity for researchers and practitioners to learn from each other. The International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku University is the key driver leading the program. The APRU 2023 Multi-Hazards Workshop was made possible by support from a multinational insurance company, Tokio Marine Group, headquartered in Japan and the CFE-DM, a direct reporting unit to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and principal agency to promote disaster preparedness and societal resiliency in the Asia-Pacific region. “Disaster resilience and climate action are priority issues for Tokio Marine Group,” said Mark Yoda, chairman and CEO of First Insurance Company of Hawaiʻi, a member of Tokio Marine North America’s group of companies. “We are proud to be a part of APRU’s efforts through our sponsorship of this year’s Multi-Hazards Workshop,” he added. Read a story from UH News here. Find out more information about the workshop here.
March 7, 2023more
Pacific Rim Leaders Collaborate to Improve Disaster Risk Management
Original post on UH News. Disasters know no borders. That sentiment rang clearly among the national and international experts who gathered at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) 2023 Multi-Hazards Workshop. Held February 21–23, participants explored ways to improve disaster risk management capacity through localization in Asia and the Pacific. “This workshop underscores the significant role that local governments and communities play when dealing with disasters,” said UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno. “Involving these groups, particularly local emergency response practitioners, in the development of disaster risk reduction preparedness strategies and early response efforts for their regions will result in actionable plans that are better adapted and responsive to the needs of each area.” The workshop focused on the group’s experiences and research in four critical areas: emergency response, all-hazards approach, early warning risk communication and inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR). Top outcomes from the meeting include these findings: Investment is critical: DRR is an investment. Exchanges that bring together all parties (local communities, first responders, military, academia and government) are important to developing relationships and trust that are critical to success during times of disaster. Comprehensive approaches are key: All-hazards approaches that integrate local and Indigenous knowledge provide highly beneficial frameworks to respond effectively as disasters become increasingly complex. Grassroots efforts are a critical component to risk reduction and mitigation: While technologies are highly valuable and provide early warnings in the event of a disaster, the “last mile” must rely on the preparedness of local communities, cultural practitioners and volunteerism. The most vulnerable suffer: The most vulnerable continue to suffer disproportionately in the event of a disaster. New methods are required to address the needs of women, children, elderly, disabled and low-income individuals. Data-sharing and new technologies improve effectiveness of response: Data-sharing and new technologies of AI may be able to assist people in responding more effectively in times of disaster. Case studies may provide the key to localization: Identifying case studies across communities within APRU’s region that highlight successful practices will go a long way in developing and modeling innovative solutions. The workshop hosted more than 35 attendees from Australia, The Bahamas, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa, Singapore and the United States. In addition to breakout sessions, participants engaged in an interactive mass-tsunami mock press conference at the UH Mānoa Digital Studios, where journalism students interviewed workshop participants as the simulation unfolded. They also visited the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), NOAA and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. APRU is a network of leading universities linking the Americas, Asia and Australasia. It brings together thought leaders, researchers and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. The APRU 2023 Multi-Hazards Workshop was made possible by support from lead sponsor Tokio Marine Group and CFE-DM. Since its establishment in 1879 as Japan’s first insurance company, Tokio Marine Group has expanded its business globally from the domestic non-life insurance business to the life insurance business and the international insurance business. It consists of Tokio Marine Holdings and its subsidiaries, and affiliates located worldwide, operating extensively in the non-life insurance business, life insurance business, and financial and general businesses. “Disaster resilience and climate action are priority issues for Tokio Marine Group,” said Mark Yoda, chairman and CEO of First Insurance Company of Hawaiʻi, a member of Tokio Marine North America’s group of companies. “Our goal is to work with the world’s leading experts to create a global sustainable society where future generations can live safely and securely. We are proud to be a part of APRU’s efforts through our sponsorship of this year’s Multi-Hazards Workshop.” CFE-DM builds crisis response capacity in U.S. and partner militaries, enhances coordination and collaboration with civilian and foreign partners, and strengthens those relationships to save lives and alleviate human suffering before, during and after humanitarian crises. Find out more information about the workshop here.
March 1, 2023more
17th Annual APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium Presents New Approaches and Tools to Tackle Future Risks
The 17th Annual APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium was hosted by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok in late-November, highlighting the importance of innovative approaches for numerous key topics ranging from infrastructure and community resilience to socio-economic and governance challenges. Held under the theme “Innovation toward sustainable growth and disaster risk reduction”, the real-life gathering brought over 120 featured scholars, practitioners, and participants from the APRU network and the United Nations ESCAP across four continents. Prof. Dr. Bundit Eua-arporn, President of Chulalongkorn University, pointed out that Chulalongkorn University is strongly committed to facilitate academic learning, public service, and professional excellence with innovations for multi-hazard management. “Education institutes have a lot of valuable academic resources and innovative research, and we need to work harder with collective efforts and well-planned strategies to mitigate potential risks and use new innovations with systematic management methods to prevent any hazards from happening,” Prof. Dr. Bundit said in his welcome speech. “By doing so, not only people’s life will be safer, but also damages on lives and properties will be reduced,” he added. The multidisciplinary nature of the 17th Annual APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium was illustrated by eleven prominent keynote speakers, such as Prof. Fumihiko Imamura, Director of the International Research Institute of Disaster Science at Tohoku University; Dr. Bhichit Rattakul, , Chairperson of the Thai Network for Disaster Resilience; Dr. Sanjay Srivastava, UNESCAP Chief for Disaster Risk Reduction; and Dr. Aaron Opdyke, Director of Research Training, School of Civil Engineering, Sydney University. Case studies ranged from Seismic Fragility of Selected Public High School Buildings in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, to Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Management in Sri Lankan Hospitals. Participants agreed that new approaches and tools based on innovation, science, and technology are indispensable to tackle future risks. “Nowadays, our world has been impacted by multiple hazards, including one of the most severe pandemics, COVID-19, and each time, the affected countries were facing losses based on lives,” said Prof. Supot Teachavorasinskun, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University. “As the world is developing, it is our goal to reduce the disaster losses by creating sustainable innovations from our multidisciplinary knowledge,” he added. The 17th Annual APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium featured several Best Presentation and Poster Awards. Students from Monash University and Universitas Indonesia won the prizes by sharing the lessons learned from COVID-19 management in Sri Lankan hospitals and integrating tsunami evacuation route planning in web applications for Disaster Risk Reduction. For more information about the Multi-Hazards Symposium, visit here.
December 8, 2022more
APRU Congratulates Tohoku University’s IRIDeS for 10 Years of Leading Disaster Risk Reduction Research
The International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku University marked its 10th anniversary recently, presenting APRU an opportunity to highlight its admiration for IRIDeS’s leading Disaster Risk Reduction research that has been paving the way for more public engagement to prepare for and respond to disasters. Tohoku University and APRU jointly launched the APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Program in 2013. The program has since gained wide recognition across the region, including by facilitating the development of highly effective collaborations with international organizations, such as the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), United Nations University (UNU), and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Program’s key initiatives include the annual Summer School, the APRU Campus Safety Initiative, and Architecture and Urban Design for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (ArcDR3). The program also launched an open-access journal, Progress in Disaster Science, leveraging on the APRU Multi-Hazards experts for editing and contributing to research papers. During the pandemic the program has continued to offer opportunities for virtual education and research that has attracted thousands of participants. “Tohoku University and APRU share the same vision of addressing global concerns through partnerships, and we are looking forward to continuing to work closely with IRIDeS,” said Christopher Tremewan, Secretary General of APRU, in his greetings from Hong Kong on IRIDeS’ 10th anniversary. “This is a program that is more needed than ever, as extreme events threaten the whole world,” he added. Tremewan went on to thank President Hideo Ohno and Executive Vice President Toshiya Ueki for providing strong leadership to this important program. He also thanked Professor Fumihiko Imamura, Professor Osamu Murao, and Associate Professor Takako Izumi for chairing the APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Program.
October 28, 2022more
APRU Readies for Looming Book Launch with Springer on Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions
APRU is proud to announce that the APRU Multi-Hazards Program has facilitated the upcoming book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: Considerations for a Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Analysis, published by Springer. Higher educational institutions (HEIs) have had to undergo significant transformations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some countries had to cope with the pandemic and natural hazards simultaneously. However, the situation had a silver lining, as it has allowed HEIs to review their campus disaster preparedness, response, and recovery capacities. The upcoming book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: Considerations for a Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Analysis covers the experiences and lessons learned from HEIs in preparedness, response, and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for such calamities beyond natural disasters in the future. The book has been edited by Takako Izumi, Associate Professor of IRIDeS, Tohoku University, Japan, and Director of APRU Multi-Hazards (MH) Program; Indrajit Pal, Associate Professor, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand; and Rajib Shaw, Professor of Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Japan. Izumi’s chapter includes a checklist for university preparedness developed under the APRU MH campus safety program. A survey was conducted based on the checklist to assess the current preparedness capacities on campus and identify their challenges to minimize damage from future hazards. “The survey result showed that not many universities conducted even a general risk assessment on campus. It is strongly recommended that universities review their current disaster management plans with proper risk assessment and improve them to be applicable to a wider range of risks,” Izumi said. A chapter co-written by Dr. Mellissa Withers, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California and Director of the APRU Global Health Program, and Elly Vandegrift, Director of Global STEM Education Initiatives in the Global Studies Institute at the University of Oregon, contains fifteen case studies from universities in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., finding that faculty learned to create online community environments and meaningful assessment and assignment systems. At the same time, students responded to new offerings to participate in global cross-cultural and cross-country event programs. The authors described how the APRU Virtual Student Exchange Program facilitated immersive structural exchange connecting students with peers abroad in projects ranging from exploring the Galapagos islands to picturing Hong Kong through historical paintings and photos. “Although many of these innovations were born out of necessity, they have certainly set the stage for post-pandemic higher education in the future,” Withers said in a webinar held on May 24 in preparation for the launch. In the same webinar, Dr. Pan Tsung-Yi, Associate Research Fellow at the Center for Weather Climate and Disaster Research, National Taiwan University (NTU), presented an overview of the Taiwanese government’s epidemic prevention in the higher education system. Pan explained how NTU swiftly developed a digital learning platform for non-contact teaching while creating a low-cost automated temperature measuring device with a contract tracing system for face-to-face learning by describing the universities’ role. The system successfully handled 26,000 visits to the NTU campus daily, involving 80,000 daily ID card scans to avoid Covid-19 cluster-spreading between the different campus buildings. “Through the sharing of the Taiwan experience, we hope institutions can refer to it to enhance campus safety and resilience for the future,” Pan said. Dr. Ailsa Holloway, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Auckland University of Technology, explained that New Zealand’s Covid-19 responses were based on the national risk context of past measles outbreaks, volcanic eruptions, Australian bushfires, and earthquakes. “We learned that higher education governance systems that systematically incorporate disaster risk considerations are better placed for vigorous and coherent emergency response,” Holloway said. “Universities are vital in the frontline response to public health and other emergencies, while also being vulnerable, both externally with respect to exposures outside the institution and internally with respect to students, staff, and the operating system,” she added. Information about the book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-19-1193-4 More on APRU Multi-Hazards Program: http://aprumh.irides.tohoku.ac.jp/ https://apru.org/our-work/pacific-rim-challenges/multi-hazards/ About APRU As a network of 60 leading universities linking the Americas, Asia, and Australasia, APRU brings together thought leaders, researchers, and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. They leverage their members’ collective education and research capabilities into the international public policy process. In the post-pandemic era, their strategic priorities focus on providing a neutral platform for high-level policy dialogue, taking actions on climate change, and supporting diversity, inclusion, and minorities. APRU’s primary activities support these strategic priorities with a focus on critical areas such as disaster risk reduction, women in leadership, indigenous knowledge, virtual student exchange, esports, population aging, global health, sustainable cities, artificial intelligence, waste management, and more. To learn more about APRU, please visit www.apru.org Contacts Media: Jack Ng Director, Communications, APRU Email: [email protected]
July 5, 2022more
APRU on Bloomberg: APRU Readies for Looming Book Launch with Springer on Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions
Congratulations to the sixteen APRU scholars across seven universities alongside external partners and experts contributing to this book, sharing interdisciplinary knowledge and experiences that higher educational institutions can lead in the midst of disaster risk management, natural and biological hazards, and COVID-19 pandemic. Original post on Bloomberg. APRU is proud to announce that the APRU Multi-Hazards Program has facilitated the upcoming book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: Considerations for a Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Analysis, published by Springer. Higher educational institutions (HEIs) have had to undergo significant transformations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some countries had to cope with the pandemic and natural hazards simultaneously. However, the situation had a silver lining, as it has allowed HEIs to review their campus disaster preparedness, response, and recovery capacities. The upcoming book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: Considerations for a Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Analysis covers the experiences and lessons learned from HEIs in preparedness, response, and recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for such calamities beyond natural disasters in the future. The book has been edited by Takako Izumi, Associate Professor of IRIDeS, Tohoku University, Japan, and Director of APRU Multi-Hazards (MH) Program; Indrajit Pal, Associate Professor, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand; and Rajib Shaw, Professor of Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Japan. Izumi’s chapter includes a checklist for university preparedness developed under the APRU MH campus safety program. A survey was conducted based on the checklist to assess the current preparedness capacities on campus and identify their challenges to minimize damage from future hazards. “The survey result showed that not many universities conducted even a general risk assessment on campus. It is strongly recommended that universities review their current disaster management plans with proper risk assessment and improve them to be applicable to a wider range of risks,” Izumi said. A chapter co-written by Dr. Mellissa Withers, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California and Director of the APRU Global Health Program, and Elly Vandegrift, Director of Global STEM Education Initiatives in the Global Studies Institute at the University of Oregon, contains fifteen case studies from universities in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., finding that faculty learned to create online community environments and meaningful assessment and assignment systems. At the same time, students responded to new offerings to participate in global cross-cultural and cross-country event programs. The authors described how the APRU Virtual Student Exchange Program facilitated immersive structural exchange connecting students with peers abroad in projects ranging from exploring the Galapagos islands to picturing Hong Kong through historical paintings and photos. “Although many of these innovations were born out of necessity, they have certainly set the stage for post-pandemic higher education in the future,” Withers said in a webinar held on May 24 in preparation for the launch. In the same webinar, Dr. Pan Tsung-Yi, Associate Research Fellow at the Center for Weather Climate and Disaster Research, National Taiwan University (NTU), presented an overview of the Taiwanese government’s epidemic prevention in the higher education system. Pan explained how NTU swiftly developed a digital learning platform for non-contact teaching while creating a low-cost automated temperature measuring device with a contract tracing system for face-to-face learning by describing the universities’ role. The system successfully handled 26,000 visits to the NTU campus daily, involving 80,000 daily ID card scans to avoid Covid-19 cluster-spreading between the different campus buildings. “Through the sharing of the Taiwan experience, we hope institutions can refer to it to enhance campus safety and resilience for the future,” Pan said. Dr. Ailsa Holloway, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at Auckland University of Technology, explained that New Zealand’s Covid-19 responses were based on the national risk context of past measles outbreaks, volcanic eruptions, Australian bushfires, and earthquakes. “We learned that higher education governance systems that systematically incorporate disaster risk considerations are better placed for vigorous and coherent emergency response,” Holloway said. “Universities are vital in the frontline response to public health and other emergencies, while also being vulnerable, both externally with respect to exposures outside the institution and internally with respect to students, staff, and the operating system,” she added. Information about the book Safety and Resilience of Higher Educational Institutions: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-981-19-1193-4 More on APRU Multi-Hazards Program: http://aprumh.irides.tohoku.ac.jp/ https://apru.org/our-work/pacific-rim-challenges/multi-hazards/ About APRU As a network of 60 leading universities linking the Americas, Asia, and Australasia, APRU brings together thought leaders, researchers, and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. They leverage their members’ collective education and research capabilities into the international public policy process. In the post-pandemic era, their strategic priorities focus on providing a neutral platform for high-level policy dialogue, taking actions on climate change, and supporting diversity, inclusion, and minorities. APRU’s primary activities support these strategic priorities with a focus on critical areas such as disaster risk reduction, women in leadership, indigenous knowledge, virtual student exchange, esports, population aging, global health, sustainable cities, artificial intelligence, waste management, and more. To learn more about APRU, please visit www.apru.org Contacts Media: Jack Ng Director, Communications, APRU Email: [email protected]
June 28, 2022more
ArcDR3 Regenerates Urbanism Living with Disaster: Stories from Seven Reborn Cities
April 20, 2022more
APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 Strengthens Preparedness for Future Disaster Management
The APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 was held virtually November 24-25, hosted by the Disaster Risk Reduction Center of Universitas Indonesia (UI). The event, which took two years of preparation due to the pandemic, offered oral and poster presentations for researchers and students to exchange study outcomes. Southeast Asia, one of the world’s regions most at risks of natural disasters, has been striving to develop its resilience to disasters. The APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021’s theme Building Partnerships for Sustainable Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for All Hazards highlighted the importance of an all-hazards approach, while underlining the focus on strengthening resilience and preparedness for future disaster management. This covers natural and biological hazards, such as the world is experiencing right now with COVID-19. “This event was the result of collaboration between multiple national and international parties that took extra care to ensure it goes smoothly and provided valuable experience for everyone involved,” said Symposium Chairperson Prof. dra. Fatma Lestari. “Within the call for abstracts, we have received and reviewed more than 350 abstracts and full papers from across the globe, and we were also able to collaborate with various national and international journals in helping scholars with their scientific publications,” she added. The multidisciplinary nature of the APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 was attested to by the subsidiary themes of crisis management, innovative infrastructure, and sustainability. Over 1,000 participants attended, with featured speakers including representatives from five APRU member universities, Indonesian government officials, as well as representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), United Nations University, and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). Nearly 250 participants provided presentations. Prize awards were given to presenters from Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, and the USA. The APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2022 will be hosted by Chulalongkorn University under the theme Innovation Towards Sustainable Growth and Disaster Risk Reduction. Find out more about the Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 here.
December 15, 2021more
The 16TH APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021: Transdisciplinary Collaboration for Disaster Resilience
“Building Partnerships for Sustainable Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for All Hazards” is the theme of The 16th APRU Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021 held by the Disaster Risk Reduction Center of Universitas Indonesia (DRRC UI) in collaboration with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) on November 24-25, 2021. APRU is a network of 61 leading research universities around the Pacific Ocean. APRU aims to connect Asia, North and South America, and Australia to work together to address challenges across the region. Through the APRU program, academics across sectors, international organizations, public and private sectors, and communities across borders can collaborate to address global challenges. The symposium was attended by more than 250 presenters who will contribute to strengthening research on disaster resilience. The symposium was held online via Zoom and live on UI Teve’s YouTube channel. UI Rector Prof. Ari Kuncoro, Ph.D., said in his welcoming speech that the symposium is an opportunity to connect various perspectives from across borders for disaster management. According to him, the symposium is a platform that facilitates APRU members, partners, academics, policymakers, government and communities to collaborate in disaster risk reduction and recovery. “This symposium aims to share skills and knowledge on disaster mitigation among some of the most vulnerable countries to build a more resilient region, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. I believe sharing challenges and opportunities related to disaster risk reduction and panel discussions can raise awareness of the current issue of disaster risk reduction,” said Ari Kuncoro. Regarding the theme of the symposium, APRU General Secretary Dr. Christopher Tremewan stated that it is important to take an all-hazards approach to disaster risk reduction. “The occurrence of the Covid-19 Pandemic reminds us that disasters are caused not only by natural factors, human carelessness, or a combination of the two can also be a driving factor in the occurrence of a disaster, so a cross-border approach is important,” he said. The symposium also focused on strengthening resilience and preparedness for future disaster management including natural and biological hazards as we are currently experiencing with Covid-19. “APRU’s multi-disaster program recognizes the importance of implementing an all-hazards approach. This is also what we want to emphasize through our programs,” said Tremewan. Furthermore, he appreciated UI’s commitment and hard work to organize this annual symposium. Prof. Takako Izumi, Program Director of APRU Multi-Hazards & Tohoku University, introduced APRU’s multi-disaster program. The program aims to leverage the collective capabilities of APRU universities for cutting-edge research on DRR and contribute to international and regional discussions to influence the representative council policy-making processes. This is then initiated through research, education, collaboration with practitioners, and contributions to international discussions. “The multi-hazard program continues with efforts to strengthen the research capacity of APRU member universities in disaster science, provide learning opportunities for students and lecturers, as well as work with other stakeholders such as practitioners, government, and the private sector to make the best use of research results in practice. ” said Izumi. The event continued with a panel discussion. Present as the first resource person, Deputy for System and Strategy of the National Disaster Management Agency, Dr. Raditya Jati, M.Sc., said that disaster management is the business of all parties. He explained that Indonesia’s geographical location makes Indonesia prone to disasters. In addition, the direction and description of global disasters tend to increase due to various factors such as increasing population, urbanization, environmental degradation, and the effects of global climate change that hinder sustainable development. The intensity and complexity of modern disasters have caused a lot of losses and casualties both in people’s lives and livelihoods. Therefore, all parties must participate in the disaster management process. “Pentingnya kita memahami resiko dan berbagi peran dan tanggung jawab bersama mulai dari pra-bencana, saat bencana, dan pasca bencana untuk melakukan kolaborasi aksi mengurangi resiko bencana. Melalui perencanaan, dan implementasi pengurangan risiko bencana, kerugian yang memiliki kecenderungan meningkat dapat dikurangi,” ujar Raditya. In line with Raditya, Prof. Dra. Fatma Lestari, M.Sc., Ph.D. as the Director of DRRC UI explained that it is important to build partnerships for sustainable disaster risk reduction with the aim of overcoming all disasters. For this reason, strong collaboration is needed between the government, the private sector, industry, society and the media to overcome disasters from various sectors. This is also what underlies the construction of DRRC UI. DRRC UI is a work unit engaged in service and community service in the field of disaster. To achieve its goals, DRRC UI has four strategies, namely online learning through Edurisk, collaboration, aiming to overcome all disasters, and the principle of “no one left behind”. This post is also available in: Indonesian Click here to find out more about the APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Symposium 2021.
December 2, 2021more
APRU webinar flags alarming impact of COVID-19 on Women in Higher Education
APRU and the University of Sydney on Dec 2 Hong Kong time hosted the webinar Impact of Covid-19 on Women in Higher Education to share the network’s latest research on how the COVID-19 lockdowns across the world have been affecting gender equality in the academic realm. Held under the APRU Asia Pacific Women in Leadership Program (APWiL), the virtual event featured leading researchers discussing the challenges that women face during the lockdown and strategies to overcome barriers to publishing, forging new research partnerships, and establishing funding. The discussion raised important questions about how research outputs are calculated in consideration for tenure and other career milestones. Moderator Professor Katherine Belov, The University of Sydney Professor of Comparative Genomics and Pro Vice-Chancellor Global Engagement, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, raised the curtain with noting that the OECD recently pointed out that women fuel the fight against COVID-19, making up almost 70% of the health care workforce and making them more vulnerable to infection. “At the same time, women are also shouldering much of the burden at home, given school and child care facility closures and longstanding gender inequalities in unpaid work,” Belov said. “And our own colleagues, women in academia, have suffered a similar fate, with research outputs plummeting during lockdown while men’s have increased,” she added. Dr. Bahar Mehmani, Reviewer Experience Lead in the Global STM journals at Elsevier, presented her latest survey illustrating that a wave of academic publications during the pandemic came mainly to the benefit of male researchers’ careers. In Feb-May, the number of publications submitted to Elsevier increased by a whopping 90% compared to the same period of 2019, compelling Mehmani’s team to look at the submitters’ names in order to guess their gender. The data exposed that while submission increased in all months during the lockdown period, the growth of submissions by female researchers accelerated significantly slower than those by male researchers. Growth was even slower in the late stage of female academics’ careers, leading Mehmani to conclude that especially female researchers in middle age bracket are penalized by closures of their children’s schools. According to Mehmani, this is bound to strengthen long-lasting gender inequalities in the academic world; those who have already benefitted from COVID-19 research inflation may have higher chances in future to receive prestigious grants and obtain tenures and promotions in prestigious institutions. “Flagging, carefully pondering or even disregarding COVID-19 related publications and citations from applicants’ assessments must be considered,” Mehmani said. “Institutional interventions, such as promoting a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable working environment and embracing a family friendly leadership policy in the reopening plans of laboratories and institutes, could help moderate the distortions caused by the pandemic,” she added. Mehmani’s presentation was followed by that of Professor Mai-har Sham, Pro-Vice-Chancellor / Vice-President, Choh-Ming Li Professor of Biomedical Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Sham shared her research on the situation in Hong Kong and introduced CUHK’s support measures for female academics who are adversely affected by the pandemic. Professor Kalindi Vora, Director of Feminist Research Institute and Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and Director of the Feminist Research Institute of UC Davis shared perspectives considering how women and women of color are impacted by Covid-19, with already drastic underrepresentation of women and black women in tenure positions, there are additional strains due to caretaking that widen the gender gap even further. Professor Vora shared important initaitves that the Feminist Research Center is taking to provide support such as Addressing Privilege and Anti-Blackness in Research Culture project and ADQ Scholar and Research Training Series. The Asking Different Questions project is funded by the National Science Foundation Innovations in Graduate Education grant (Co-PIs Sara Giordano, Sarah McCullough, and Kalindi Vora). This project explores the following hypothesis: That changing research questions and research agendas will change who is in STEM and the knowledge we produce. The award will provide graduate students with training to locate their research questions within a larger societal context. This will include how to recognize and address issues of historical bias and cultural complexity. By learning to place their research in a broader context, junior researchers are able to better frame complex research questions, particularly those presented by communities traditionally under-served by science. The curriculum also provides support for interdisciplinary collaborations and the inclusion of diverse voices and approaches in STEM research. Professor Joanna Regulska, Vice provost and Dean of Global Affairs and Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, UC Davis reminded participants that there is great potential as part of the APRU network to use our collective knowledge and resources to expand impact in the region. One such opportunitiy is the APRU APWiL Mentoring Program which has just begun its pilot in 2020. More information on the event page For more information about the Asia Pacific Women in Leadership program contact [email protected]
December 22, 2020more
2nd APRU Multi-Hazards Webinar Series calls for new disaster risk management approaches after COVID-19
The APRU Multi-Hazards Program successfully completed its second webinar series held in three sessions on September 30 and October 14 and 30, involving a total of thirteen speakers and 784 viewers. On the theme ‘A New Approach for Disaster Risk Management after COVID-19’, experts shared their experiences, and perspectives on preparedness and responses, introduced innovative tools and ideas on a scale-up of disaster risk management and addressed the need for connecting researchers and practitioners to identify most effective planning and actions. Key international organizations, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), explained how they have been supporting governments and regional initiatives to raise awareness for the importance of strong regional networks. The webinars, were organized against the backdrop of the COVID-19 experience reminding us that disaster risks are not only natural but include a wide range of disaster types, such as biological, chemical, and industrial calamitous events as emphasized in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in 2015. “APRU comprises 56 member-universities in the disaster-prone Pacific Rim region, and campus safety is crucial as universities hold larger numbers of students, faculty, and staff than lower schools,” said Takako Izumi, the director of the APRU Multi-Hazards Program, at the webinar. “It is very important for universities to consider the risks of both natural and man-made hazards, as they usually keep dangerous substances, and any campus accident may threaten the surrounding community’s safety,” she added. The webinars concluded with the launch of the new collaborative platform CBRNe-Natech Asian Disaster Risk Initiative (CnADRI). Based on the APRU Multi-Hazards Campus Safety Program, CnADRI will provide a space to share and discuss common challenges and identify solutions for various stakeholders. To know more about the webinar series and the speakers, please visit the webpage. To view a journal paper on managing and responding to pandemics in higher education institutions, please click here.
November 24, 2020more
Civic Resilience and the COVID-19 Crisis (Part 1 of 2)
By Jeff Hou See the original post here. This series of articles represents the outcomes of a two-part webinar, titled Bottom-Up Resilience and hosted by APRU Plus in July 2020. Through a partnership between Pacific Rim Community Design Network and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Hub, the discussion brought together a group of activists, organizers, and researchers across the region to critically reflect on their ongoing work in supporting the local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, civil society responses including self-help and mutual aid have become critical to the survival of many individuals and communities, lending a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable populations in our society. In the Seattle area, the ground zero of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, citizen groups and community organizations mobilized to provide food delivery and relief for elderly residents. Makerspaces, architecture firms, and university labs shifted gear to produce Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Artists volunteered and collaborated with neighborhood organizations to paint murals on boarded-up storefronts to support local businesses and deter vandalism. While many of these efforts may appear to be ad-hoc and spontaneous, others also emerge from longstanding networks and relationships. Together, they represent the emergence of civic resilience — the ability of citizens and communities to cope with and adapt to social, economic, and environmental disturbances. Compared with the common association of resilience with infrastructure projects and scientific analyses, civic resilience suggests the agency and power of individuals and civil society groups in responding to urgent and longstanding challenges. Seattle is far from the only city where such instances exist. Cases of community organizing for self-help and mutual support have also emerged elsewhere during the pandemic, including cities and communities in Asia. Through a two-part webinar titled Bottom-Up Resilience and hosted by APRU Plus in July 2020, a group of activists, organizers, and researchers across the region joined in a dialogue to share lessons and experiences from their ongoing work during the COVID-19 crisis. The webinars set out to examine the following questions: How do communities and social groups self-organize to address challenges during the pandemic, in particular challenges facing the most vulnerable populations in our society? What do these cases have in common? What can we learn from these civil society responses for future planning? What are the roles of researchers, planning and design professionals, and institutions in strengthening community resilience? This essay summarizes the findings and presents the key lesson learned in the hope of advancing the understanding and practices of mutual aid, community self-help, and civic resilience. Pandemic Inequalities With lockdowns, travel restrictions, social distancing requirements, and economic slowdowns, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormously disruptive changes to societies around the world. As schools, streets, and other forms of public and private spaces shut down in one city after another, the patterns of daily lives that were once taken for granted had suddenly unraveled. While a large segment of society can afford or manage to work from home, however, others are not as fortunate. As the death toll under COVID-19 has shown, cities and communities have been impacted differently, with the less privileged ones suffering a greater blow. Inequalities and the experiences of the marginalized and unprivileged were the main themes during the webinar with presenters sharing their first-hand accounts working with or learning from the homeless, migrant workers, and street vendors on the front line during the pandemic. In one case after another, we learned that a simple change in how urban spaces were managed could have a substantial impact on the populations that depended on them for their livelihood. In Manila, for instance, Tessa Maria Guazon of the University of the Philippines Diliman reported on the experience of street vendors during the lockdown, sharing that “many of those who sold their goods on the streets had no earnings having lost touch with their loyal customers.” The street that once provided a “semblance of security” was no longer accessible. The restriction imposed on transportation during the lockdown also “put the marginalized at a greater disadvantage,” said Guazon. Changes in mobility during the lockdowns had a disproportionate impact on different segments of the population. According to Iderlina Mateo-Babiano of the University of Melbourne, 80% of the Philippines population is largely dependent on public transport. Banning mass transit to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had a significant impact on those who rely on public transport. “The impact was felt hardest by the essential workers and frontline workers who still had to go to work but had limited mobility choices,” said Mateo-Babiano. In Hong Kong, homeless individuals, or McRefugees, were locked out of their usual refuge as McDonald’s was closed for a month during the lockdown, according to Michelle Wong, former program manager of Impact HK, a charity organization serving the homeless in Hong Kong. For those who had to report to work, such as the street cleaners, long working hours meant that many did not have time to cue up for buying masks even if they could afford to buy them, said Bernard Lee of Fixing Hong Kong, a volunteer organization that organized donations and distribution of PPEs to street cleaners and those in need during the pandemic. For migrant workers in Hong Kong, Cecilia Chu and Marta Catalán Eraso of the University of Hong Kong reported that “fears of contagion meant that employers were largely unwilling to give domestic workers their weekly time-off.” Specifically, they found 29% of the domestic workers have their days off refused. Foreign domestic workers were also not included in the almost HKD 300 billion government fund to assist industries and the public in Hong Kong. Many also do not have access to PPEs, according to Chu and Catalán Eraso. The situation in Singapore is perhaps most telling in terms of the demographic disparities. According to Tan Beng Kiang of the National University of Singapore, 95% of local cases are migrant workers living in the dormitories. The number of COVID cases is significantly high “because of the high-density living in the sharing of common spaces,” said Tan. Other seemingly simple or trivial changes could also have a significant impact on the less privileged. In Tokyo, according to Mago Yoshihira of YUI Associates, a social enterprise organization serving the homeless population in Sanya, during the pandemic people often eat at home and do not go out to drink (at bars or restaurants), resulting in a lot of household cans to collect. The price of cans went down as a result, with the price for one kilogram falling by almost 50% from 80–85 yen to 45 yen. This falling price presented a challenge for people who make a living by collecting cans. Vulnerable populations during the pandemic include not only the homeless and migrants but also those with chronic illnesses. In Wuhan, the first epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, medical resources were squeezed in the city, and many patients with chronic illnesses had difficulties accessing medical care during the lockdown, according to members of the Dinghaiqiao Mutual Aid Society Yang Bao and Shuyun Cao who have been observing volunteer efforts in Chinese cities during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of the challenges facing marginalized populations have long existed before the pandemic. In Tokyo, chronically homeless people keep living on the street and refuse to receive social benefits, according to Mago Yoshihira. “One of the major reasons for them to refuse services is that they do not like to stay at the institutional facilities […] Usually the bunk beds are provided, or one room has to be shared with another person. There are also lots of restrictions […] it’s not a good environment,” said Yoshihira. In Taiwan, where the local authority has successfully contained the outbreak of COVID-19, the social isolation and spatial segregation experienced by migrant workers during the pandemic was not new, according to Shu-Mei Huang, an Assistant Professor at the National Taiwan University. From an interview with a community worker, she learned that the migrant workers ”are actually better than anyone to live in isolation, and to maintain online, fragmented social interactions.” Organized Civil Society Responses It was in the context of disparities and inequalities faced by the vulnerable and marginalized populations that many of the self-help and mutual aid efforts emerged. At the webinars, it was interesting to hear about not only the range of efforts but also the organizations that undertook the initiatives. Specifically, it is important to note that many of the organizations existed long before the pandemic. Their efforts showed how they have responded and adapted to changing needs in the community, and how existing networks and relationships played critical roles during the crisis. Starting with Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon shared the effort of her research team as part of the Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network, a project that started in 2017. During the pandemic, the team shifted from research to supporting community partners who were mainly homeless women and itinerant vendors. Using social media, the team solicited donations and organized “survival packs” for distribution to community members. Each survival pack provides one family with a week’s supply of rice, cans of sardines and corned beef, powdered coffee and milk, sugar, bread, and fresh vegetables. Multiple organizations from Hong Kong were featured in the webinars. Fixing Hong Kong is a volunteer group based in Tokwawan, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Hong Kong. Founded in 2015 after the Umbrella Movement, the group provides home repair services as a way to perform outreach to communities to promote democracy and community self-help. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the group shifted gear to organize donations and distribution of masks and hand sanitizers to those in need, particularly street cleaners. As of July, the group has received and distributed over 50,000 masks and several hundred liters of hand sanitizers, according to Bernard Lee. ImpactHK is a charity organization focusing on serving the homeless in Hong Kong. With limited staff, the organization focuses on linking the homeless, volunteers, donors, and their own staff. ImpactHK already had a food distribution program that served about 30 people a day before the pandemic. During the COVID-19 crisis, the program expanded to serve 150 people a day. The group also distributed masks and hand sanitizers, although they found the homeless were more concerned with having a place to stay and addressing other more immediate survival needs, according to Wong. For migrant workers in Hong Kong, many grassroots organizations and unions from the community of domestic workers have been active in providing extra support to those in need. According to Marta Catalán Eraso, these groups reached out to the community and gave away masks and other supplies donated by companies. They also provided moral, legal, and health support. The Indonesian migrant workers union even had an online meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to discuss these issues. The first-ever global online rally of migrant domestic workers took place with more than 500 participants representing organizations from 39 countries, a testament to the power of the pre-existing networks among the migrant workers. In Singapore, several existing organizations have stepped up during the crisis. According to Tan Beng Kiang, NGOs such as Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach delivered meals to migrant workers who are quarantined or under a stay home order. A Singapore choir group “Voices of Singapore” organized a virtual sing-along for migrant workers and kids to raise funds for migrant workers. During the lockdown, religious spaces opened their premises for the homeless, including Malaysians who commute to work in Singapore each day but were stranded overnight because of the sudden lockdown and border closure. In Wuhan, the NGO Wuhan LGBT Center provided health counseling and medicine delivery for HIV patients. They also set up a mutual support WeChat group for people to borrow HIV medication in emergencies. According to a report by Jean Chong of OurRight Action International, “between January 26 until the end of lockdown on April 8, the Center delivered medicine to an average of 200 persons daily,” and “an estimated 14,000 persons received 130,000 bottles of medicine over the entire 74 days of lockdown.” In the Wanhua District of Taipei, a historic district with a high concentration of poor and elderly populations, the dense network of existing social service organizations provided much-needed support for the area’s residents and businesses. With large public gatherings banned during the early part of the pandemic in Taiwan, the network of organizations successfully moved a market event online. The event typically held three times a year since 2016 has been important for supporting local businesses and social enterprises. The success of the online event encouraged the event partners to continue working together, according to Shu-Mei Huang. In Tokyo, YUI Associates is a social enterprise that runs hostel-like hotels and a cafe in Sanya, a neighborhood historically known for a concentration of day laborers and homeless people. The organization operates two hotels for travelers and a third one to serve the homeless and provide them with a more comfortable and dignified environment. During the COVID-19 crisis, the group used one of its travelers’ hotels to accommodate chronically homeless individuals during the emergency declaration. It continues to provide food deliveries in the area for the homeless. Besides formal organizations, informal social networks also played an important role during the crisis. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon found that the drives for food provision during the first few weeks of the city-wide lockdown have relied on social media networks. “There was a resurgence of community kitchens, and efforts were pooled between individuals and the many citizen groups that social media helped gather,” said Guazon. In Hong Kong, Bernard Lee argued that many of these civil society responses during COVID-19 in Hong Kong have their roots in the protest movement in 2019. “Because of the protests, we are much better at organizing ourselves,” said Lee. Among the migrant workers in Hong Kong, there was also informal sharing of masks and sanitizers, as well as emotional support for those returning to their home countries under the lockdown, according to Marta Catalán Eraso. Emerging Mutual Aid and Community Self-Help Besides the existing networks and organizations, the recent crisis also saw the emergence of several new groups and self-organized initiatives. The formation of these efforts suggests new possibilities of community self-help and new forms of civic organizing. They also suggest the potential of civil society particularly in places where such a phenomenon was not expected or was not prominent historically. In Singapore, a society arguably without a strong tradition of civic actions, there has been an outpouring of support for mutual aid and community self-help during the pandemic. A group of students from the National University of Singapore volunteered as translators for the migrant workers with a hospital, “They translated common questions the doctors would ask workers into voice recording and text. (in five languages — Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Myanmar, and Chinese). These were used by the doctors when they communicated with the workers,” said Tan Beng Kiang. On the campus of the National University of Singapore, with a dormitory converted into a community recovery facility where migrant workers discharged from the hospital came to recover, students collected t-shirts and delivered them to the workers (as they could not go back to pick up their belongings) and offered financial literacy classes for the workers. At the Nanyang University of Technology, with the school in lockdown and the canteen closed, an undergraduate student who had just opened a noodle shop in the canteen decided to cook for hundreds of elderly citizens with donations from a crowdfunding campaign. With students having to engage with home-based learning during the lockdown, a group of volunteers formed a group called Community Against COVID that repaired laptops for students in need so that they could continue learning at home. Other groups included “Masks Sewn with Love” that “sewed masks from their home for the homeless, migrant workers, and other vulnerable groups,” said Tan. In Manila, Life Cycles PH was formed by a team of transport advocates, cyclists, and social media campaigners to provide bicycles to frontline workers in need of transport during the community quarantine. According to Iderlina Mateo-Babiano, through the donation of bikes and funds to purchase bicycles in bulk from suppliers, the group has delivered over 1,000 bikes to hospitals and institutions. Also, they have been able to match more than 400 bike lenders to borrowers in the community. Mobility and transportation during the pandemic was a challenge not just in Manila. In Wuhan, known as China’s punk rock capital, music fans from two renowned live houses together with other participants formed a group called LuMo Road Rescue. The group coordinated and gave rides to medical workers during the city’s extraordinary lockdown. Starting with mobility support, the group has since branched out to coordinate donations and distribution of personal protection supplies to those in need, including local hospitals. Wuhan was the site of many other self-help and mutual aid efforts, including those that serve the socially marginalized populations. According to Yang Bao and Shuyun Cao, volunteers formed a support group for pregnant women especially single mothers and same-sex partners. There were also pet owners who organized a support network to care for abandoned pets and those whose owners were missing or could not return to their apartments during the lockdown. The emergence of these novel, self-organized initiatives illustrates the possibilities for community self-help and mutual aid even in societies with a tradition or system of top-down governance. It suggests that when called for by extraordinary circumstances, community groups and informal networks may leap into action. Yet it is also quite possible that these self-help efforts have long existed but were overshadowed by the state institutions and cultural biases that fail to recognize these survival mechanisms.
September 17, 2020more
Civic Resilience and the COVID-19 Crisis (Part 2 of 2)
By Jeff Hou See the original post here. This series of articles represents the outcomes of a two-part webinar, titled Bottom-Up Resilience and hosted by APRU Plus in July 2020. Through a partnership between Pacific Rim Community Design Network and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Hub, the discussion brought together a group of activists, organizers, and researchers across the region to critically reflect on their ongoing work in supporting the local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning from Civil Society and Civic Resilience What exactly can we learn from these different types of civil society responses during the pandemic? What do these cases tell us about social and community resilience from the bottom up? What do they reveal about the longstanding disparities in society? What can we look forward to in terms of sustaining these networks and momentum? Contrasting responses Besides the disproportionate impacts on the mainstream society and the marginalized communities, the contrasting responses from the state and the civil society groups present another parallel across the different geographical contexts. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon found the state’s bureaucratic response to daily emergencies like food supply, mass testing for the virus, and the provision of public transport to be, as usual, delayed and inadequate. As a result, communities turned to self-help and mutual aid as a way to address urgent needs, a pattern also found elsewhere. The experience in China offers a different scenario. In Wuhan, the local government did react relatively quickly but failed to account for the less privileged. Yang Bao and Shuyun Cao argued that “as the pandemic spread, the government’s one-size-fits-all directives could not respond to the detailed needs of all sectors of society.” It was in this context that the self-organized civil networks have emerged in response to the urgent needs of those who have not been helped. In Tokyo, the support from the government in terms of temporary accommodation for the homeless was critical but short-lived. After seven days during the crisis, “people were back on the streets,” said Mago Yoshihira. She went to note, “we were worried about them and that was why we started free ‘food delivery’ to homeless people […] so we can visit them directly and conduct short interviews each time.” “Face-to-face conversation is best to feel empathy,” said Yoshihira. YUI Associates also began to accept people who had newly become homeless due to COVID-19 and assisted them in finding jobs, according to Yoshihira. In other cases, the government response has been a source of longstanding challenges. In Hong Kong, Michelle Wong described the dilemmas faced by the homeless and social service organizations, “even before COVID-19, they stay in tunnels; they stay on the streets, or they stay in McDonald’s.” “They move around quite often, and the reason why they need to move is that the government would remove their stuff in the tunnel or park frequently,” said Wong. This has made the work of volunteers and social service organizations difficult because they cannot locate the homeless, build relationships, and provide support for them. Trust and empathy As a discussant on the first day of the webinar, Kian Goh of the University of California, Los Angeles highlighted the presence of place-based and historically informed local experiences as illustrated by the speakers. Goh noted that many community self-help and mutual aid practices “really have to be built on trust and empathy […] developed among close-knit circles.” Indeed, local practices that built trust and empathy appeared to have played an important role in engendering community responses during the COVID-19 crisis. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon pointed out the notion of Namamangketa as “a way of life” and “a manner of thriving” among the community members she worked with. Asked about how empathy was developed, Guazon noted that empathy among the women partners was built from shared experiences, particularly the struggles with local law enforcement and government. Working with the women partners through the SEANNET project, she learned that a way to live together was “to be with another, to feel the pain of another, to empathize with others.” In the case of LuMo Road Rescue in Wuhan, Yang Bao found trust was already established and deeply rooted in the group, “making the rescue, their donation [drive], and mobilization of resources [go] quite smoothly.” Iderlina Mateo-Babiano also found community resilience to be underpinned by trust in the case of Life Cycles PH. She noted that many of the transactional activities, including the borrowing of bicycles, were based on trust and community spirit or Bayanihan. “There was no money involved; transactions were just purely made on trust and generosity within the community Facebook group,” said Mateo-Babiano. Asked about how trust was developed for Life Cycles PH, Mateo-Babiano suggested that the transactions became a form of relationship building. Following the online transactions, “the group would go and meet up with people to exchange bicycles,” said Mateo-Babiano. The social media platform also allows the group to build trust by being transparent about their actions. Reciprocity and Scalability As place-based and locally-specific actions, Kian Goh wondered about the potential of looking across scales to include different community groups and different levels of government, and if these efforts are bound to one place and one community. In other words, are these civil society responses scalable? In Singapore, Tan Beng Kiang found an untapped resource of people who are interested in helping: “I think there are a lot of people during the lockdown who were at home and they all want to do something [to help] but they can’t get out,” said Tan. Tapping into the potential of these individuals presents opportunities for scaling up. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon found evidence of “a cycle of generative reciprocity” in the example of a chef who converted her restaurant kitchen into a community kitchen and came up with a set of guidelines for establishing community kitchens and for making them safe. A colleague from the university then translated the guidelines into Tagalog or Filipino so they can be widely circulated. “It keeps these efforts going. Some of us may fall out because of fatigue but I think others will be interested to help,” said Guazon. In the case of Life Cycles PH, beyond facilitating the lending and borrowing of bikes, Mateo-Babiano found the group to have expanded their advocacy to create a culture of cycling, “a culture of just and sustainable mobility for everyone.” This includes pushing the government to build more bike lanes and cycling infrastructure to make cycling safe. She found that the conversation has moved from short-term emergency response to long-term needs for expanded infrastructure for more equitable and safer mobility. In the migrant worker community in Hong Kong, Cecilia Chu and Marta Catalán Eraso came across additional actors that served to bridge multiple scales. For instance, they highlighted the role of banks in lending technical support to the workers as they might become future clients. “This suggests that self-help is not really entirely independent […] there is a kind of intricate relationship between institutional engagement and community self-help,” said Chu and Catalán Eraso. Solidarity and collaboration The answer to scalability perhaps already exists in the way that many of these groups and initiatives operate, through collaboration and acts of solidarity. In answering my own question about how organizations adapted to crises and how such adaptation can sustain in the long run, Iderlina Mateo-Babiano sees the sharing paradigm as key, particularly when “fueled by the ongoing advocacy and solidarity of like-minded individuals,” and “a common concern for social justice and human connection.” Michelle Wong had a similar response, “as an organizer I always go back to solidarity as a solution.” For instance, the COVID-19 crisis has led ImpactHK to consider forming a network of homeless advocacy organizations in Hong Kong to address the problem effectively and to lobby the government. “At the end of the day, the government is the resourceful, powerful kind of machine that can do much more than a small organization like us,” said Wong. Collaboration already played a critical role in the ongoing work of ImpactHK. During the crisis, the organization hosted around 200 homeless individuals by partnering with guest houses for travelers. In another instance, to learn about the issues facing the street cleaners and to better support them, Fixing Hong Kong organized a learning session for volunteers with the Hong Kong Cleaning Workers Union so they can “understand more about the difficulty that these street cleaners face,” said Bernard Lee. In Singapore, during the crisis, some of the existing NGO groups have formed a coalition because their work is similar. Instead of everyone trying to replicate others’ activities, “they are combining,” said Tan Beng Kiang. According to Tan, the groups are also partnering with the government because during the crisis, “there are things you can’t do unless you get permission, such as entering the quarantined migrant worker dormitory.” As a result, “there’s now a partnership going on between the government and the NGO groups,” said Tan. Spontaneous solidarity can also take place across borders. In Tokyo, where masks were in short supply during the COVID-19 outbreak between March and June of 2020, YUI Associates received donations of masks from regular customers of their tourist hotel in Sanya. According to Mago Yoshihira, more than 1,200 masks were sent from Shanghai and Hong Kong where the number of infections had declined at the time. YUI members brought these donated masks to rough sleepers and the homeless populations in Sanya as well as a terminal care facility for homeless individuals and a hospital. In answering the question about how civil society responses can be sustained, Tessa Maria Guazon suggests that this can be supported through multi-nodal efforts: “When people work at various scales, if one group suffers fatigue, then another catches them.” Similarly, Masato Dohi, co-founder of ARCH, reflected on the voluntary effort of Tokyo Street Count: “[with] just a small group of two or three people, we can only count a small part of the city and small part of the homeless population, but with hundreds of people we can count the homeless people in Tokyo.” (Nao Kasai further notes that the robustness of the count is not the focus of the argument, but rather that societal inclusivity starts from “I recognize you” at the grassroots level. “Our Tokyo Street Count is an effort to scale up this ‘I’ to ‘we,’ so we can say ‘we recognize you all’ as a society,” said Kasai.) Collaboration and solidarity are indeed keys to how responses of civil society, albeit often modest in scale and capacity, can have a greater collective impact during a crisis and in the long run. They enable groups to maintain autonomy and self-manage while working toward a common goal. By pooling together resources of different kinds, it creates efficiency and allows groups to adapt to changing needs and circumstances and scale-up. Barriers to Civil Society Responses With lockdowns and other extraordinary constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic, civil society responses have their share of challenges and difficulties as well. In Tokyo, Nao Kasai noted that because of limited capacity, the work of ARCH on street homelessness had to shrink. “Many street support activities rely on volunteers, and service providers had to redesign or stop their activities without volunteers during the pandemic,” said Kasai. As a social enterprise, YUI Associates faced a financial challenge during the crisis. With almost no guests by April, they had to close one of the hotels to reduce costs even though the demand from the homeless population has increased, including people who require special care. Other aspects of the widespread lockdown during COVID-19 posed additional difficulties. In Manila, residents from San Roque, an informal settlement in Manila’s northeast protested against the local government during the lockdown. They were dispersed and later arrested as they were deemed by the police to be defying the law against public gatherings. In Hong Kong, where there was already a ban on public gatherings issued by the government to rein in the civil unrest, volunteers handing food to the homeless in the park received warnings from the police because of the restrictions against public gatherings. “I know that some of our homeless friends. They get tickets. They get warnings and tickets from the police,” said Michelle Wong. She suspected that the police were using the ban to “scare them off from the park.” “I think they make use of COVID to get what they want right now because of the protests and also for the homeless; they don’t want them,” said Wong. Faced with this challenge, volunteers of ImpactHK resorted to a flash mob tactic to continue serving food in the park next to their office. Physical and mental fatigue came up as another important issue in the conversation. Tessa Maria Guazon described her experience in Manila, “after what we did for our women partners, I was totally just exhausted.” In her concluding thought on the first day of the webinar series, Shuyun Cao suggested, “we should not over-emphasize contribution or devotion to a great goal […] I think in that way individuals will be swallowed by those great goals.” Instead, she suggests attention to self-care and individual mental health, “then the empathy fatigue will not be that serious,” said Cao. Besides fatigue, it is also important to critically reflect on other challenges facing mutual aid and self-help. Cecilia Chu argued, “all these self-help practices [by migrant workers] when we presented them seemed very positive and enlightening, but in Hong Kong, it’s been really not seen as part of the civic engagement in the eyes of most of the local residents.” Furthermore, she suggested that the community self-help was in fact a reflection of their marginalized position “that so far has not been really breached.” Lastly, Shu-Mei Huang suggested that even with all the focus on the marginalized groups through civil society responses, some groups might still be left out. For instance, while we have better understood the struggles of the domestic workers, we still know rather little about factory workers and fishers, “migrant fishermen […] really can’t make it to public space over the weekend because they don’t have a weekend.” Implications and Lessons for Planning and Design Practices A key question on both days of the discussion concerns the implications and lessons of civic resilience for planning and design professionals, the main audience of the webinars. Iderlina Mateo-Babiano responded with a reflection on her training as a planner, “when I hear the stories […] I think that’s one of the learnings that as a planner we should take on.” “Sometimes we think that we know what are the lived experiences of those for whom we provide public spaces, but actually what we have thought of as the right solution, the right public space, may not really be the right one for the users,” said Mateo-Babiano. For Tan Beng Kiang, a key lesson from the civil society responses was simply to act. She thinks that as designers or as educators, “we can encourage our students to act, even if they are locked down at home or with limited access to visit [a site], etc., what is it that they can do to help? What is it they can do within their community?” Indeed, the cases presented by the webinar speakers would not have been possible without the actions and initial responses. Whether there have been pre-existing networks or not, the most critical aspect of community self-help has been the will and ability to act. While the focus of the urgent and immediate relief was critical, in the grand scheme of things, it’s also important to identify how civic resilience can be supported and cultivated on an everyday basis before and beyond the moment of crisis. As suggested by the role of pre-existing networks and organizations, it is important to engage these networks and organizations in the planning and design of neighborhoods, districts, cities, and regions, and ensure such engagement can help build capacity and strengthen relationships among the groups. Opportunities also need to be provided for those without formal affiliations. As evident in the outcomes of the pandemic, social disparities have been an acute form of vulnerability that threatens not only the underserved and underprivileged but also the society at large. As these social and economic disparities are often reinforced by the built environment, planning and design professions, by and large, have been accomplices to a structure that produces and reproduces these inequalities. Addressing these disparities and closing the gaps requires the built environment professions to play a more self-critical role and reflect on longstanding assumptions and practices. As we rebuild cities and communities to avoid future outbreaks of infectious diseases, we must ensure that the voices of the less privileged are not left out. As evident from the cases highlighted in the webinars, a seemingly insignificant change in the everyday environment and everyday life can have a significant impact on the vulnerable populations. Additionally, a well-intended policy or measure can have unintended consequences especially if the concerns of those who are not at the table are not accounted for. We must avoid the pitfalls that have plagued the rescue, relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in the past that have deprived rather strengthened the communities in need. Finally, as Kian Goh noted during the webinar, “mutual aid community self-help is not a cure-all.” There are structural issues that will require much more substantial effort and perseverance. But as the experiences highlighted through the webinar have indicated, seemingly robust structures can fail and when they do, civic resilience can play an important role in saving lives and supporting communities in need. Furthermore, changing and rebuilding the structures will also require the efforts of civil society in holding the state and institutions accountable. A deeper and more critical understanding of civic resilience is the first step toward the long-term safeguarding of cities and communities beyond the pandemic.
September 17, 2020more
APRU Global Health experts co-publish insights on global health ethics in the time of COVID-19
APRU Global Health Working Groups provide a platform for experts and scholars to develop joint-research and share lessons-learnt. During a webinar held in May 2020, experts brought together by the Global Health Bioethics Working Group examined ethical challenges in both research and clinical care associated with COVID-19. The inter-disciplinary and international nature of the event offered participating scholars the unique opportunity to analyze these challenges from diverse perspectives and publish the findings in the Journal of Global Health Science. View the paper here. Find out details about the authors and the webinar here.
September 16, 2020more
APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Virtual Summer School 2020
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the 8th edition of APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School had to be held virtually. Through a zoom platform, three sessions were held on July 15, 22, and 29 (JST). The event aimed to share the experiences and lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET), learn from the experiences in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and risk management from various stakeholders, and understand the latest international disaster science research conducted by the researchers globally. Total 842 people worldwide have attended the sessions. View the program and report here. View the speakers’ information here. Read a blog from our students who joined the summer school from Nanyang Technological University.
August 3, 2020more
COVID-19 starts push for more interdisciplinary research
By Yojana Sharma Original post in University World News While many university leaders around the world fear post-COVID budget cuts due to squeezed economies and – for many host countries – a drop in fee income from foreign students staying at home, top universities in Hong Kong and Singapore say their research funding is relatively secure, which enables them to take a longer view. The disruption caused by pandemic lockdowns affected day-to-day university work and research, but COVID-19’s impact on all sectors of society has opened the window to changes in research towards tackling societal challenges that require a longer perspective and an interdisciplinary approach. “We should think out of the box and [take] the long-term perspective,” Wei Shyy, president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), told University World News. “We are not just trying to fight this particular pandemic. There are many large humanity-level challenges.” Research needs to be “purpose-driven” and interdisciplinary, Shyy said, adding that while this is often talked about, until now it has not been accorded sufficient energy or motivation. Shyy said there had been a move towards a more short-term approach to research in recent years. But as a result of COVID-19, “we have seen how connected many issues are, not just science and technology, but also policy, psychology, economics, culture and many other areas.” The university is encouraging academics and researchers to be aware of societal challenges in selecting research topics, even in fundamental research. “It’s not just pandemic research, but the pandemic has been an example. We are not de-emphasising any particular research area, just encouraging more mission-oriented thinking at the earliest stage,” Shyy said. “The research focus will definitely change to look at the more pressing issues of the aftermath of COVID-19, as well as some of the important challenges uncovered by COVID-19,” Tan Eng Chye, president of the National University of Singapore (NUS), told University World News. “Singapore has always been very forward-looking in not cutting the research budget,” Tan noted. In late May, ahead of a general election, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat unveiled an early budget for 2021, against the backdrop of the International Monetary Fund’s prediction that Asia, which saw the fastest growth globally in the past decade, would see zero growth in 2020 – the worst growth performance in 60 years. Heng announced SG$20 billion (US$14 billion) in basic and applied research funding for 2021-25, to also include research into “solutions for some of the world’s major challenges”. The current five-year research budget to 2021 is around SG$19 billion. “COVID-19 has given us an opportunity. We have resources now and this is perhaps a good time to make big changes to put us in a better position for the future. We do not want change to be forced on us, but to lead the change,” said Tan. With research funding secured, “we need to relook at our systems and how to make them more robust, to be able to adapt to shocks and shockproof our institutions and our community. But it also begs the question of the relevance of the university. The way we teach, we learn, the way we do research,” Tan said, referring to the need for a cross-disciplinary approach that will affect all areas. “Collaborations will be very important because we do not have a wide spectrum of skill sets and knowledge for a complex problem like a pandemic. COVID-19 throws at us problems and challenges that no single discipline is able to address. Because we don’t have all the strengths in one university, collaboration between universities will be important,” says Tan. “Universities have to depend on globalisation and the free flow of information because this is how we do research. We have to leverage off one another,” Tan added. “We hope that universities can stop the trend of de-globalisation and perhaps regionalisation, which we feel is not a good trend.” Even during the pandemic, NUS set up a major new collaboration with Peking University in Beijing on public health crisis management to exchange case studies on COVID-19 control in China and Singapore. “Peking University will have access to a lot of data and information, vital for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccine development,” Tan added, while Singapore points to a very high survival rate as something other countries can emulate in improving public health systems. Climate change and other global challenges Shyy and Tan both mention climate change and climate change mitigation and resilience as future challenges to focus on, as well as artificial intelligence, automation and Industry 4.0. “During the pandemic crisis we noticed information security and cyber-security were threatened, so that is very important,” Tan said, pointing to the need to invest in backup IT systems. He added that COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of Industry 4.0. “A lot of this is already on our radar, but COVID-19 has accentuated the importance of this area and that we have to work on this much faster.” He pointed to longer term food security as a new research area, referring to the disruption in food supplies from neighbouring countries during the pandemic. Singapore depends on imports for 95% of its food, with only 5% produced nationally. “Over the next 10 years we need to increase that to 30%,” Tan said. “It is possible with urban farming, agritech and aquatech, and we need to research these.” University research collaborations slowed during the pandemic due to travel restrictions, but the university leaders said they will become stronger again. COVID-19 research Universities like HKUST and NUS, which serve densely populated urban areas, were quick to align research to the needs of the health system and society. The campuses at HKUST and NUS were mainly closed during their respective lockdowns. But in Singapore some 200 researchers continued with COVID-19 related research through lockdown in a shift system to minimise contact, developing among other things a ‘symptom checker’, now widely used in Singapore, which helped in stepping up COVID-19 testing. The Duke-NUS Medical School identified the neutralising antibodies for serological testing for highly accurate testing for antibodies that work against the COVID-19 virus. Some HKUST researchers were already involved in research stemming from the 2003 SARS outbreak which could be re-geared for COVID-19, for example, an anti-microbial liquid which can be sprayed on surfaces and is effective for three months. Another project brought into practice was an autonomous vehicle to deliver food and medical supplies without needing a driver. “Usually universities are considered to be a kind of ivory tower, but we have never been so closely linked to aspects of daily life,” Shyy said. Push towards interdisciplinarity Beyond the immediate crisis, the consensus among university leaders of the need for more interdisciplinary research is strong. Agile institutions like HKUST and NUS are determined to use changes in attitudes in academia to push through important reforms at the institutional level. Tan pointed to his own plans for NUS for “tearing down structures that inhibit interdisciplinarity”. “We are going to have a big overhaul of our academic system, by freeing up the structure and injecting more flexibility for departments and faculties to collaborate across disciplines. I’m also changing the financing and budgeting of our NUS system to facilitate this,” he said, adding that the changes will affect every university faculty and department. He acknowledged it will not be easy and there will be resistance within the university community. But the goal and timetable are clear. After changing the institutional structure, “the next step is to build a critical mass of faculty passionate about interdisciplinarity,” he said, noting that he believes he can achieve these changes within two years. “This would also have to factor in how we recognise and reward faculty members,” he said. But convincing students could take longer. “We need to ensure interdisciplinary research can feed on education and vice versa. It’s important for learners to accept this. We will have to work hard to make sure our students buy in. “Students would be easier to convince when we expose them to real life problems, to internships and experiences outside of the university in the real world,” Tan said. “We are trying to get the employers on board and, I guess, once senior students have gone through this and have seen the benefit, they will impress on junior students to ask for more.” New campus In Hong Kong, Shyy is keenly aware that interdisciplinary structures are extremely difficult to bring into an existing university, even one as young as HKUST, which was founded in 1991. “You have a disciplinary establishment – the departments, the schools – already in place. They are here to stay and they should stay, but on top of the disciplines you want to build bridges which is very hard because that is not human nature,” he said. “We need a reset, but the reset cannot replace what you’re already doing in your current place. That’s why we decided to have a new campus devoted to cross-disciplinary pursuits, starting with the academic structure. It won’t have traditional disciplinary units, everything there will be flexible and adaptive.” Shyy is referring to the new campus being developed by HKUST across the border in China’s southern province of Guangdong, with funding from the Guangzhou city government. It is scheduled to open in 2022 and will eventually double the faculty numbers and size of the existing university in Hong Kong. It will offer cross-disciplinary graduate programmes, for example, in autonomous systems, big data, public policy, population and socio-economic development. Other areas are sustainable energy, environment, equity or inequality of wealth, urban policies and city planning and development. Some 250 graduate students have already been enrolled, starting their programmes on the Hong Kong campus. It will have new, additional resources. “So we can have healthy research without upsetting the existing work that we are good at.” Shyy described the role of the twin campuses, with the current Hong Kong campus continuing with discipline-based and interdisciplinary research. “But from the ground up the new campus will be cross-disciplinary with disciplinary depth and support drawn from our current campus, which in turn will tap into the China campus’s cross-disciplinary energy and resources,” he said. “There will be two systems which don’t have to force each other to compromise. They will run in parallel, and we will leverage the talents and the approach from each other.” While the project has been in planning for two years, “the pandemic provides even stronger motivation,” Shyy noted. “Coincidently, it is a very timely opportunity.”
July 25, 2020more
Disaster preparedness would improve HE pandemic response
Original post in University World News Universities can better prepare themselves for future pandemics and become more resilient with a planning approach that encompasses other natural disasters, says Hideo Ohno, president of Japan’s Tohoku University in Sendai, which was badly affected by the 2011 East Japan Earthquake. Many Pacific Rim universities that were best prepared for campus closures at very short notice in response to the COVID-19 pandemic already had emergency disaster response procedures in place. These included university plans in the event of bushfires in Australia and California in the United States just before the pandemic and partly overlapping it; typhoons in the Philippines, earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan; and previous epidemics such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS in East Asia and MERS in South Korea. “Universities need to take a multi-hazard approach in their planning” to prepare for natural disasters and other hazards like the pandemic, Ohno told University World News. Sendai, where Tohoku University is situated, suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011 in which 20,000 people lost their lives, compared to 982 deaths from COVID-19 to date. Fumihiko Imamura, professor of tsunami engineering and director of the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), established at Tohoku University a year after the 2011 earthquake, devised a number of principles derived from disaster science for universities and societies to respond to such events. Ohno cites these, among them “that disasters have evolved together with our lifestyle, which was very true in the pandemic situation as well”. In the case of tsunamis, people are reluctant to move away from the coast, he notes. “Second, humans cannot do more than prepare. The third point is that crisis management and response planning should be based on the worst scenario, which is also true in the current case.” “Another point is that it is necessary to judge a response under uncertain conditions. So we do not have full information why we are in the pandemic and the disaster response.” “The final point is that to create new lifestyles is important. We call it ‘build back better’,” said Ohno. “These are the lessons that we learn from earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, heavy rain and landslides. But these principles are surprisingly apt for the COVID-19 situation and to counter future pandemics. “We had many unknowns [with COVID-19] but the only thing that we know is that we have to be prepared for [another] highly toxic influenza virus pandemic in the future,” Ohno emphasised. Emergency team Tohoku University’s own in-house emergency advisory team for COVID-19 was first set up as an informal group providing advice from late January and then regular input in the university administration’s emergency planning. The team included Hitoshi Oshitani, professor of virology at Tohoku’s Graduate School of Medicine who was also on the Japanese government’s expert advisory team on the pandemic, which was providing advice from late February. “We were very fortunate that this expertise that we tapped over that time overlapped partly with the national response team,” Ohno noted. “We locked down the entire university in April so there was plenty of lead time,” he says. During this time, the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama Bay turned out to be an important ‘laboratory’. In February the cruise ship was declared by the World Health Organization to have more than half the known cases of COVID-19 outside China at that time. Some 700 COVID-19 cases were on the ship which had 3,710 passengers, as well as crew. “The country and specialists learned quite a lot from this,” said Ohno, particularly about transmission. The experts “informed us very early, late March or early April, that 80% of people who contracted coronavirus do not transmit coronavirus to others. The 20% is important and they tend to be young and active and most likely asymptomatic,” Ohno said. “So we asked our students not to travel back to their homes.” He said the level of seriousness went up in March “when we had the first case within our student body and we didn’t want to spread it to other students and other city residents and the community”. This was in contrast with universities in many other countries which sent most students home when they began to lock down campuses. University preparedness Lessons for higher education was one of the topics at a 17 June webinar organised by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) multi-hazards programme hosted by Tohoku University’s IRIDeS. Takako Izumi, associate professor at IRIDeS and programme director for the APRU-Tohoku multi-hazard programme, said lack of preparedness by higher education institutions was clear from a recent survey conducted by Tohoku. Of 150 responses from 65 Pacific Rim universities in 29 countries, two-thirds of them in Asia, “almost 50% of the universities are not ready” for such emergencies, “especially for a pandemic”, Izumi said. According to the survey, 53% of Pacific Rim higher education institutions had an emergency management office. But 47% lacked a permanent or dedicated emergency management office, Izumi said. Some 41% of institutions lacked a general business continuity plan to prepare for an emergency. Even for institutions that had such plans, “33% of the plans do not cover biological hazards in pandemic risk management. Sixty per cent of the business continuity plans did not include conducting simulation exercises in advance based on the plans,” which meant the effectiveness of such plans could not be assessed, Izumi said. From the survey carried out in April, when many of the universities had shut down, the top two issues in preparing for emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic cited by respondents were “lack of organisational preparedness for a pandemic” and “lack of pandemic-specific advance simulation exercises”, she said. The shift from classroom learning to online learning and internet access, an issue highlighted by many university leaders around the world in recent months, was only the third most important concern, according to the survey results. “Governance issues are more strongly addressed than educational issues as key challenges. That implies that people in higher education institutions understand and already realise the importance of preparedness,” Izumi said. Adapting emergency plans to COVID-19 Tan Eng Chye, president of the National University of Singapore (NUS), told University World News: “In 2003, SARS hit us quite badly. Since that time we have had a business continuity plan. Part of that plan is to look at possible scenarios. A pandemic is one of them.” Others include building collapse, a major fire or terrorist attack. “For each scenario we have a rough plan,” he explained. But every crisis is different. NUS experts in public health and infectious disease “kept reminding us that COVID-19 is not SARS. That advice has been very useful because it helps us to recalibrate our plan which was based on SARS,” Tan said. “COVID-19 changes very quickly. So as things were developing, our colleagues were very quick to learn what was happening in China and apply it.” Cynthia Larive, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz in the United States, noted: “We had an emergency management structure in place and that was very useful.” It includes an operations centre for the university and how to manage communications, including coordination with the city and county. “We do tabletop exercises to practise,” Larive told University World News. Even so, planning for COVID-19 was challenging. “With an earthquake or fire you get through it very rapidly. You do an assessment, then plan for how your recovery can begin. But this pandemic is a different kind of situation. We are in it for a much longer period. In some ways it is less devastating, but it is hard to anticipate all the impacts and understand when it will end.” Larive says the university’s planning included five phases, depending on changing threat levels during the pandemic, and involving different actions for each phase so the campus could move back to a higher alert level with a second COVID-19 phase, for example. Including the community Tohoku’s Ohno stressed that the wider community is as important as campus-based emergency planning. The “2011 [earthquake] impacted us, our local community and our minds as well. Our focus was sharper after 2011. We knew we had to work with society in order to solve social issues and we have to collaborate within the university; we can’t just have independent silos. And the pandemic has absolutely reinforced that,” Ohno said. “For example, from the outset we knew that we had to take swift action to support students during the pandemic. We were one of the earliest in the country in establishing student support – financial support as well as a peer support system among students. “We had to ask students not to engage in jobs like waitressing at restaurants and things like that because we were afraid it might spread the virus on campus. So we got together initial financial support of approximately US$4 million for students.” Disaster recovery on campus and in research work has to involve the community, to better prepare for future disasters and increase campus resilience. “Almost 20,000 people lost their lives during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – 90% of people drowned. So there was this feeling of how can we as a university help society and how can we help the local community and this naturally evolved into projects and programmes,” Ohno explains, pointing out that it took three to four years for the university to recover fully, as some university buildings had to be rebuilt, though lectures were able to resume within half a year. “More than a hundred small projects spontaneously emerged from our university after 2011,” Ohno said. The projects ranged from support for disaster-affected children, mental healthcare for disaster-affected people, radiation monitoring in Fukushima around the nuclear power plant damaged by the earthquake, research into ecological and marine impacts of the Fukushima radiation leakage, rescue activities for affected museums, agricultural reconstruction projects, archaeological surveys for the resettlement of tsunami victims, rescue robot technology and disaster-resistant medical instruments, among many others. “Later in 2015 we launched 30 programmes addressing broader societal issues, not just recovering from the earthquake.” This coincided with planning for the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and also the Paris Agreement on climate change – “2015 was when these three international agendas were set,” he pointed out. “The university’s role is to come up with a more generic holistic picture and that is a big, big challenge because we have a collection of specialists but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can formulate a holistic view. That’s not just a challenge for our university but for the whole higher education system.” Just as it acted swiftly to set up IRIDeS for interdisciplinary and expert disaster research a year after the 2011 quake, the university is planning a new interdisciplinary pandemic research centre. Ohno said that when he recently asked the university’s 3,000 faculty members how they would use their expertise to counter the COVID-19 situation, he received some 200 proposals. The next stage is to secure the research funding for the new centre. “The centre will have two focuses, one will be interdisciplinary, broad, social, cultural response and understanding the history [of pandemics] to see the sort of societal response we can have. The other pillar is looking at what people are doing elsewhere as well using our expertise to directly counter the coronavirus pandemic,” Ohno said. The centre will be important for collaboration across disciplines within the university and internationally, and with the community. “We need to consolidate [research] efforts so that we can counter what’s happening in this corona world and the ‘new normal’. That includes medical and direct research on the virus itself. But we also have to come up with a social structure that is more resilient to new pandemics if they come.”
July 18, 2020more
COVID-19 apps – Are there enough ethical safeguards?
By Yojana Sharma originally published in University World News Several countries and cities in Asia were able to swiftly control local outbreaks of COVID-19 in part due to the use of contact-tracing apps which locate and isolate those who have been in contact with a patient, to better contain contagion. However, such mobile phone apps have raised data privacy and bioethical issues around their use in public health. “Public health relies on good quality surveillance,” noted Angus Dawson, professor of bioethics and director of Sydney Health Ethics at the University of Sydney, Australia. However, “contact tracing can generate all kinds of ethical problems,” he said, speaking at a June webinar organised by the bioethics group of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities’ (APRU) Global Health Program, noting that it raises issues of privacy, informed consent and confidentially. “One of the concerns is what actually is the data being collected,” said Dawson. “How much of it is identifiable data in relation to particular individuals?” “It is not just a technical issue but a medical one too,” he said, adding that “every intervention in the COVID area has to involve ethical considerations – whether we are talking about distribution of protective equipment, ICU beds, or hopefully in the future when we might have some vaccines.” Apps in use in the region include the Alipay Health Code app in China, which codes people as green or red depending on their health status and requires identity card details as well as full face scans. Hong Kong has the StayHomeSafe app combined with a wristband linked with the app. Developed by Gary Chan, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the app maps a unique footprint of a person’s locality. Stepping out beyond certain perimeters triggers an alert. Taiwan’s Intelligent Electronic Fences System app uses different measures, but with similar functionality. New Zealand’s NZ COVID Tracer app is based on a ‘digital diary’ of places visited by individuals by scanning the official QR codes, which can alert and be shared with contact tracers. Singapore’s TraceTogether app, developed by the Government Technology Agency together with the Ministry of Health, exchanges short-distance Bluetooth signals between mobile phones to detect other TraceTogether users in close proximity. The data is shared once the individual is contacted by contact tracers. The Singaporean app has also been adopted in Japan and Australia. Some of the apps have supplementary functions where individuals can input symptoms to create an alert. What happens to the data? Calvin Ho, associate professor in the faculty of law at the University of Hong Kong researching health and biomedical technologies, said international health regulations drawn up by the World Health Organization (WHO) “put a lot of emphasis on technological surveillance as well as rapid technological advances, but it did not quite anticipate the developments that have arisen from this particular [coronavirus] outbreak”. In many of the countries and cities where mobile phone use is high, such apps “have been very effective in controlling the rate of infections – many of the cities did not have to introduce a complete lockdown”, Ho said during the webinar. “However, privacy is a huge question. We do not yet know what is going to happen to the data,” Ho said. “There needs to be public discussion on what principles of data protection have to be observed.” For the public to be willing to take part, trust and transparency is crucial, he added. “In the midst of an outbreak, as we have seen in South Korea, for example, people are very conscious about social responsibility. There’s a very strong societal and peer emphasis so people tend not to invoke their right [to privacy] straight away. That seems to be the phenomena right across East Asia,” he said. But also in Australia and New Zealand, people were extremely cooperative. In Western Europe and the United States, people have been more vocal on privacy issues. “Privacy has not been highlighted as a huge issue across Asia, particularly in the initial stages,” Ho said. “But it does not mean these concerns are not there. Individuals remain concerned about what’s going to be used out of all the data that’s been collected about them. It’s very vivid in their minds.” Involvement of tech giants Ho described the use of such mobile technologies as a form of “mass surveillance”. Some ethical principles are not always followed with surveillance, he noted. The WHO Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance, published in 2017, state: “Those responsible for surveillance should identify, evaluate, minimise and disclose risks for harm before surveillance is conducted. Monitoring for harm should be continuous, and, when any is identified, appropriate action should be taken to mitigate it.” Ho, who helped draft the WHO guidelines, noted that they were drawn up with governments and public health systems in mind, rather than corporations or NGOs. Ho pointed to the involvement of technology giants such as Google and Apple in developing some of the apps in use during the pandemic, which raises questions of “whether we are further empowering very powerful industry players with control over public health measures”, and added that it is unclear what such companies will do with the data. “Technically, the data will be owned by these commercial developers. With other contact-tracing apps there should be an agreement with the public at the authority and then the data belongs to the public health authority,” Ho told University World News. Ho added that if such companies are not carefully monitored, “then ultimately it does mean that these huge commercial entities could potentially exploit public health systems and potentially vulnerable individuals, essentially for political gains or some kind of influence over government”. Balance of public health and privacy Dawson, who is also one of the drafters of the WHO guidelines, said COVID needs to be thought about as a “global ethical issue, and not just a concern to an individual”. Issues of data ethics and the balance of personal privacy often “come down to the advantages we might have through having that data”, Dawson said. Public health systems “can have very good reasons to try to understand what the levels of infection are in different regions and cities across the world and then use that to plan how they are going to respond”. He noted that with some of the recent contact-tracing apps, “some of that data is identifiable and some is not”. “We should not just think public good versus privacy. There are ways to try to think about how they are both important and we can put protections in place, for example putting coding attached to individual level data to make sure individuals can’t be identified,” Dawson said. Research ethics Bioethical principles used in conducting medical research can be useful in guiding use and data issues surrounding such apps. This kind of surveillance “is very similar to research in many ways”, said Ho. “It can involve similar methodologies and activities. These can include systematic investigation, medical record review and data mining.” Both involve human subjects and both can raise similar ethical issues, including exposure of subjects to risk, standards of care and questions about informed consent. However, Ho pointed out: “Informed consent is a basic tenet of research ethics, but it is often not sought in the context of surveillance.” Biomedical research has strong regulations in place and systems overseen by ethical committees in universities, hospitals and research institutions. “There is less institutional oversight for surveillance, which means app-based surveillance, data and research derived from it may not undergo ethics committee reviews,” Ho said. With academics and researchers well trained and experienced with research ethics, they can contribute to improving bioethical aspects of surveillance, Ho said, adding that university input into issues of data governance, accountability and transparency measures were likely in the wake of the pandemic. Mellissa Withers, associate professor at the department of preventative medicine at the University of Southern California in the US and director of the APRU Global Health Program, said the bioethics group within the APRU programme would continue to look at such issues to inform policy-makers. “A lot of the experts are involved in research ethics committees, and they are very active in reviewing the ethics of human subject research in their own universities, but more needs to be done across universities and, in particular, there is a real need for sharing and doing training in low- and middle-income countries,” she noted. “There was a lot of interest from [those in] the Philippines and Indonesia attending the webinar which shows they really want some guidelines and recommendations on bioethics. They are interested in building capacity around these areas and learning what’s going on in the field. “Structured regulation needs to be in place or at least these ethical issues need to be considered because there is the opportunity for [data] misuse by governments,” Withers told University World News. “We need more standardised policies that can be implemented across countries because it won’t go away even after COVID-19. The amount of data collected for public health purposes is growing exponentially every year.”
July 4, 2020more
APRU x IRIDeS Webinar: Multi-hazards Approach and COVID-19
originally published in Tohoku University Tohoku University’s International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Multi Hazards Program hosted a seminar online on June 17 to discuss strategies and early recovery lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Moderated by Professor Rajib Shaw of Keio University, the international panel of speakers represented perspectives from the United Nations, government, the private sector and academia. Shaw described the COVID-19 pandemic as “one of the longest live disasters” of our time, and warned of seasonal dangers, such as typhoons and heatwaves, that still await. “It will be a long journey so we need some strategies to learn to live with risk.” Kicking off the lectures was Yong-kyun Kim, Director General of South Korea’s National Disaster and Safety Control Center. He attributed his country’s success in “flattening the curve,” to decisive and transparent government policies and the extensive use of innovative technology. He cited regular government updates through text messaging and other forms of communication that helped authorities win the public’s trust and cooperation. ICT-based systems and mobile phone apps also gave the government some control in monitoring persons from high risk areas or those who are supposed to be in quarantine. But perhaps the most effective Korean response to the pandemic was the widespread testing, contact tracing and rigorous treatment, which Kim described as “the 3T strategy.” An innovative drive-through testing method allowed people to be tested from their cars, or to walk through a booth. Because the RT-PCR tests could return diagnostic results within six hours, positive cases were dealt with quickly, said Kim. Loretta Hieber Girardet, who heads the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction for Asia and the Pacific, explained how the UN has been working to prevent COVID-19 from derailing the work that had been going on around the world on achieving Sustainable Development Goals. “The world has been looking at COVID-19 as a health crisis, but it goes far beyond that,” she said, adding that the UN has been developing a framework to support countries on issues like urbanization, gender equality, human rights and green recovery. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, President of the Philippines National Resilience Council, spoke on how the private sector can build resilience, and had three recommendations: understand local risks and vulnerabilities, invest in early detection and warning systems, and have a pre-disaster recovery plan. She said companies should build their crisis management capabilities by learning from best practices across all sectors, adding that conventional corporate social responsibility is no longer enough. Disaster risk reduction, especially health security, should be embedded in the core values of all corporations going forward. Anchoring the panel was Associate Professor Takako Izumi from IRIDeS. She highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on universities and their level of preparedness to meet the challenges. Izumi, who is also the director of the APRU Multi-hazards Program, shared the results of an April survey of 65 universities in 29 countries, which revealed that nearly half of them did not have sufficient organisational preparedness when the pandemic struck.On the academic front, some institutions also struggled with the shift from traditional classroom learning to online-based learning. Izumi concluded that the following adjustments need to be made to ensure better preparedness in the future: – have adequate business continuity plans (BCP) and emergency management units – use a blended learning approach to education – raise awareness of not just natural disasters, but also biohazard and health risks – build a network with other stakeholders and be part of a wider DRR agenda – have designated funding to scale up preparedness “We see from this pandemic that an all-hazards approach to risk assessment is vital for academic institutions. This includes their emergency response mechanism, as well as information sharing and risk communication systems, such as early warning and evacuation plans,” said Izumi. “It’s also important to have drills and stress tests before the disaster, to make sure the plans work.” The 90-minute event wrapped up with the panelists reiterating the need to understand the interconnected nature of risks. “Certainly COVID-19 for us is a wake-up call around systemic risks,” said Girardet. “You cannot look at risks in isolation.” For more information, please visit APRU Plus website at APRU-IRIDeS MH Program: http://aprumh.irides.tohoku.ac.jp/
July 1, 2020more
Coronavirus emergency and APRU universities
On this page you will find: Resources Seminars, Workshops, and Discussions APRU members resources for Covid-19 We express our concern and support to our members at this very difficult and unpredictable time. The APRU Chair and Secretary General have expressed their concern in this letter to APRU members in China and Hong Kong SAR. To assist APRU members as you confront this health challenge and associated policy responses from around the region we have posted this web page. During the SARS emergency, APRU universities found it very helpful to know what others were doing to respond. Therefore, we have put up this web page which includes links to members’ websites stating their policies and the actions they are taking. APRU Plus: Addressing the Crisis The ongoing COVID-19 situation has provided us with a reminder that even in uncertain times, APRU is a diverse community of people who lead, create, inspire and learn—together. APRU members are already sharing their policies and actions responding to the crisis on our webpage Coronavirus emergency and APRU universities. As a service to our members, we have prepared APRU Plus an online hub of information for all of us working virtually. This hub gives members access to webinars, knowledge exchange, and communications updates about the ongoing health crisis and the universities across the Asia Pacific. Resources Universities’ Preparedness and Response Towards Multi-Hazards: COVID-19, Natural, and Human-Induced Hazards The APRU Multi-Hazards program hosted by Tohoku University collected case studies to learn about the efforts made by universities in the response and preparedness toward the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other hazards such as earthquakes, fires, and anthropogenic hazards. It also aims to investigate how to prepare for future pandemics and disasters more effectively. This compilation which includes 26 case studies from 13 countries and region is a record of what had happened as well as the success and failures. It is crucial to learn from these experiences and to be prepared for future hazardous events. This publication will also be useful for universities to strengthen their current strategy and plan to establish a resilient campus against various types of hazards to protect the lives of the university community as well as the assets on campus. Download the report Vaccine research deepens university-industry collaboration The intensified search for a vaccine against COVID-19 has pushed vaccine research to the top of collaborative medical and R&D research projects between Japanese universities, drug companies and the government in Japan. For example, it is funding a university-led task force for joint COVID-19 research projects established by prominent Japanese universities, including the University of Tokyo, Keio University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kitasato University and Osaka University, with experts from diverse fields, including infectious diseases, virology, molecular genetics, genomic medicine and computational science. Read full article >> UQ vaccine scientists report positive results from pre-clinical testing Pre-clinical testing of The University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine has produced positive indications about its potential effectiveness and manufacturability. Read full article >> HKUST’s All-Round Efforts to Help Fight COVID-19 Pandemic The unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 since December 2019 has been sweeping across continents, with confirmed cases surpassing 220,000 and death toll exceeding 8,000 worldwide to date. This highly contagious virus has quickly flared up elsewhere and become an unforeseen global challenge. The entire HKUST community as a global citizen has a role to play in the concerted response to this significant public health threat. Read how HKUST is fighting COVID-19 now >> Practical recommendations for the management of diabetes in patients with COVID-19 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Stefan R Bornstein, Francesco Rubino, Kamlesh Khunti, Geltrude Mingrone, David Hopkins, Andreas L Birkenfeld, Bernhard Boehm, Stephanie Amiel , Richard IG Holt, Jay S Skyler, J Hans DeVries, Eric Renard, Robert H Eckel, Paul Zimmet, Kurt George Alberti, Josep Vidal, Bruno Geloneze, Juliana C Chan, Linong Ji, Barbara Ludwig National Response to COVID-19 in the Republic of Korea and Lessons Learned for Other Countries Juhwan Oh, Jong-Koo Lee, Dan Schwarz, Hannah L. Ratcliffe, Jeffrey F. Markuns & Lisa R. Hirschhorn Article: e-1753464 | Received 30 Mar 2020, Accepted 06 Apr 2020, Published online: 29 Apr 2020 https://doi.org/10.1080/23288604.2020.1753464 The second affiliated hospital released the Guidebook of Hospital Response Strategy to COVID-19 Zhejiang University Drawing upon the firstline experience of the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine in the fight against the pandemic, a guidebook – COVID-19 outbreak: Hospital Response Strategy was released on April 11, which offers applicable references to a wider audience. Fast Funding for COVID-19 Science Science funding mechanisms are too slow in normal times and may be much too slow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast Grants are an effort to correct this. If you are a scientist at an academic institution currently working on a COVID-19 related project and in need of funding, we invite you to apply for a Fast Grant. Fast Grants are $10k to $500k and decisions are made in under 48 hours. If we approve the grant, you’ll receive payment as quickly as your university can receive it. Corona Virus (COVID-19) “Infodemic” and Emerging Issues through a Data Lens: The Case of China Jinling Hua and Rajib Shaw * Keio University, Fujisawa 252-0082, Japan; [email protected] *Correspondence: [email protected] Building resilience against biological hazards and pandemics: COVID-19 and its implications for the Sendai Framework Riyanti Djalante (a,b), Rajib Shawb (b, c,), Andrew DeWit (d), a. Academic Programme Officer, United Nations University-Institute for the Advances Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), Japan b. Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), Japan c. Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Japan d. School of Economic Policy Studies, Rikkyo University, Japan female lab technician doing research with a microscope in the lab. coronavirus How Elsevier is supporting your response to COVID-19 Elsevier has made a variety of resources available to support our partners in the research, higher education and health communities March 24, 2020 – Updated March 26, 2020 Covid-19’s highly infectious nature means there is a pressing need to find solutions. Universities can help Image: REUTERS From virus-slaying air purifiers to delivery robots, how university inventions are fighting COVID-19 World Economic Forum Agenda 16 Mar 2020 Wei Shyy, President, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology 中文/日本語/Français/English COVID‐19 Effe cts on US Higher Education Campuses View report The Institute of International Education (IIE) is studying the effects of COVID‐19 (coronavirus) on global student mobility on U.S. higher education campuses. The series is to provide more information about the effects that COVID‐19 has had on international student mobility, and the measures U.S. higher education institutions are taking regar ding international students currently on campus and those abroad, international students interested in studying in the United States, and U.S. students planning to study abroad. The first survey was launched on Feb. 13, 2020, and specifically focuses on the effects of COVID‐19 with regard to academic student mobility to and from China. As the COVID‐19 outbreak evolves, IIE will administer follow‐on surveys to the U.S. higher education community to monitor the unfolding situation and to keep the international education community informed. For more information, please visit www.iie.org or email [email protected]. Harvard University Coronavirus (COVID-19) Seminars HKUST x University of Southern California Webinar: Sustainability as the New Normal – A Vision for the Future 17 November 2020 10:00am – 11:15am How will 2020 pandemic change the future sustainability policies in U.S., Hong Kong, China, and the world? USC Professor Marlon Boarnet and HKUST Professor Hong Lo, renowned scholars on transportation, environment, and urban planning; with Professor Christine Loh and Noah Miller, subject experts and strategists on environment and climate change, will talk about the new definition of sustainability after the pandemic and how the disruption forces us to change in every aspect. Head of Sustainability at HKUST, Davis Bookhart, will moderate the discussion. More information is available on the HKUST website >> Register by November 15th HKT >> Japan MEXT Top Global University Project Online Symposium: International Collaboration in Higher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic Time: September 30th 17:00 (JST) Register here. With the spread of COVID-19, international exchange at universities is entering a new phase. Although online lectures have become prevalent in Japan, universities around the world are now considering various means of international collaboration in education and research including online exchanges and hybrid styles that combine both virtual and physical interaction. In this symposium, new ideas and case studies will be shared and discussed regarding the future of international exchange in education and research. By clarifying the common hallenges faced by global universities and awareness of these with regard to international exchange in the post-COVID era, the symposium aims to help sketch a new blueprint for higher education along with what international exchange should look like in the future. For more information about the symposium, please visit the website. Japan and the World in the Era of COVID-19: Considering whether the new paradigm is a crisis or an opportunity Register here for the final webinar with a wrap-up discussion in English on July 29. COVID-19 brings significant impacts on peoples, countries, and the world. It is thought that this will bring earth-shattering changes in the future. By examining Japan’s response to the first wave of COVID-19, the analyses implied that vulnerabilities on informational infrastructure and delay of innovations and social implementation were showed in several cases. To gain a deep understanding of the new paradigm, Keio University has organized four webinars bi-weekly from June 17 to July 29. The series include a broad range of topics from health, technology, economy to law. Experts from Japan and around the world provide international perspectives based on their active involvement in fighting against COVID-19. For more information about the webinar series, please visit https://www.kgri.keio.ac.jp/en/news-event/070204.html View the recording here in English. WEBINAR: Korea University Medicine The Next-Normal Conference 2020 This conference will provide a forum for discussion on predicting the “Next-normal” of human society, including health care, economic growth, development and leadership after COVID-19. Young-Hoon Kim, President of Korea University Medicine says, “it’s time to look for serious concerns and directions for a sustainable human society after COVID-19. We hope that this conference will provide meaningful implications and directions for us in the future, not only in the area of health care but also for social and economic areas of various fields at home and abroad.” The conference will be held in the form of a “hybrid conference” that combines online and offline participation. Date: July 23, 2020 (Thursday) Time: 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Korean Time UTC+9) Enquiries: [email protected] Live Broadcast on YouTube. Simultaneous interpretation Korea-English will be provided. Managing the COVID-19 Pandemic UC Berkeley Self-paced Free Course The course will provide you with a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the pandemic. We have gathered faculty with a wide range of expertise to deliver over 20 lectures addressing essential topics relevant to the prevention and control of this deadly infectious disease that has affected the entire globe. The course starts with an introduction to the history of global pandemics and lessons learned, and then moves on to the biology, epidemiology, diagnostics, and basic concepts in modeling the spread of the virus. The course then shifts to cover prevention and control strategies, including the populations most at risk during this pandemic and the systemic causes of these disparate impacts. Finally, we cover how organizations and individuals are coping, and look at the range of potential health and economic impacts of this pandemic that depend on our global and local responses. The course is followed by a short exam where we allow you to test your knowledge and deepen your learning. Thank you again for your interest in the course. We hope that this course helps you better understand the pandemic and what you can do to respond to it. WORKSHOP: Using Coronavirus to Teach Science In this new global landscape, how can educators incorporate coronavirus examples to enhance student learning? In this four-week workshop, educators will practice applying principles of active learning, inclusivity, and assessment to develop student learning activities focused on coronavirus in their discipline. Disciplines might include global health, mathematical modeling, biology, epidemiology, sustainability, city planning, and others. Application Deadline: June 20, 2020 Cost: $500 U.S. dollars (If you are interested in attending, but the fee is a barrier, please contact us) Details: July 6 – July 29, 2020 Time: Workshops will be offered at two different times to accommodate a global audience. Mondays and Wednesdays 7-9 a.m. Pacific Time (Central European/Middle East/Africa Time) Mondays and Wednesdays 5-7 p.m. Pacific Time (Asia Pacific Time) We look forward to learning together with a group of educators from around the globe. Please be in touch with Elly Vandegrift, Program Director for Global STEM Education Initiatives with any questions. [LIVE] “Biases, Norms and Culture: A Framework for Understanding Our Responses to a Pandemic“ Date: June 23, 2020 Time: 16:30 – 17:45 HKT (GMT+8) Register Now The COVID-19 pandemic has put all of us in uncharted territory. No nation is unaffected by the outbreak and there is no uniform formula tackling the crisis. We see varied approaches and responses from cities and individuals. Join us for the upcoming webinar, as part of the global webinars under the theme “Navigating a World of Disruption”, in partnership with KTH Royal Institute of Technology to learn how people respond to the pandemic from different perspectives—social & cultural, public health, public transportation, urban planning & design. Through the academic exchanges, we wish to better understand how the new normal will be in the post-pandemic era. Registration closes on June 23 at 12:00 HKT (GMT+8). Medical Education in Pandemic: Screen to Screen or Face to Face May 22, 2020 16:00-18:00 (HKT) Hosted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong During the COVID-19 pandemic, many medical educators have continued to teach their students by adopting new methods in teaching and assessment. As educators, we believe in learning from experience. In this webinar, we will be sharing experiences from medical teachers and students around the world. The audience will hear that bedside teaching may be possible, online education can be conducted interactively, and social distancing may still be compatible with face to face examinations. Most importantly, the audience can gain some insight into the readiness of our students to be doctors during the pandemic. We will have speakers from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Details can be accessed via the CUHK website. Registration is free on a first come, first-serve basis. Everyone is welcome. Entering the New Realm of International Higher Education Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT) Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia in collaboration with International Relations Centre (UKM Global) The National University of Malaysia (UKM) Email: [email protected] This program aims to discuss the impact that the current Covid-19 has had on international higher education and how universities are reacting to the situation. It follows through the plan of actions done by universities from different parts of the world in dealing with this global battle. The pandemic has changed what traditional teaching and learning environment used to be like and universities have to now accelerate their speed of transformation in adapting to these new challenges. The panel of experts consist from scholars to practitioners from four different regions sharing their experiences in dealing with this unplanned necessary change. The discussion includes their strategy in embracing this new normal of education and the preparations involved in realizing this strategy. Tsinghua University – Didi Joint Research Center for Future Mobility March 20, 2020 from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (Beijing Time) Combating the Coronavirus with Big Traffic Data – China and the World Stay Hand in Hand, Heart to Heart Meeting Agenda Tsinghua University – Didi Joint Research Center for Future Mobility is holding an online seminar on March 20, 2020 from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (Beijing Time) with the topic “Combating the Coronavirus with Big Traffic Data – China and the World Stay Hand in Hand, Heart to Heart”. The seminar will focus on the applications of big traffic data analytics in coronavirus combat and the experiences that could be shared under international background. In-depth discussions and extensive exchanges will be carried out among leading experts from governments, schools, international organizations and enterprises. Migrating a Whole University to “Online Real-Time Interactive” Teaching: An Experience-Sharing Forum March 18, 2020 The discussion covered issues such as: Strategic and Technological Decisions, Faculty and TA Training and Support, Migrating Common Teaching Practices (From whiteboards to visualizers), Student Support and Feedback, Assessments and Exams , and Faculty Experiences. This webinar is for senior administrators in charge of teaching and learning. A recording of the webinar and resources can be found at the HKUST website. APRU Members Australia The Australian National University Contact: Jane O’Dwyer Vice-President (Engagement and Global Relations) Email: [email protected] The University of Queensland https://about.uq.edu.au/coronavirus-advice-uq-community Contact: Mr Rongyu Li Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Vice President (External Engagement) Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Email: [email protected] The University of Sydney Coronavirus (COVID-19) research and expertise: Information to keep our global community safe Discover the latest research, analysis and podcasts from our University of Sydney experts addressing the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Coronavirus (Covid-19) infection: University of Sydney advice China and Hong Kong SAR The Chinese University of Hong Kong Act Together Against Covid-19: https://againstcovid19.cuhk.edu.hk/ CU Medicine on Covid-19: https://www.med.cuhk.edu.hk/covid-19 Contact: Ms. Shally Fan, Director of Academic Links, Office of Academic Links, [email protected] Ms. Amy Chan, Senior Programmer Manager, Office of Academic Links, [email protected] The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Covid-19 [email protected] https://covid19info.ust.hk Contact: Eliza Tam Manager (Global Engagement & Greater China Affairs) Office of the Vice-President for Institutional Advancement Email: [email protected] Zhejiang University Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment officially launched Chinese Taipei National Taiwan University https://www.ntu.edu.tw/english/spotlight/2020/1797_20200130.html Contact information: Campus Health Center: +886 3366-2156, (Office hours，8AM – 5PM） [email protected] Campus Safety Center: +886 3366-9119, (24hr）[email protected] Chile University of Chile Espacio en la web de la U. de Chile que agrupa los contenidos relacionados al COVID-19: https://www.uchile.cl/covid19 Encuesta de Monitoreo COVID-19 realizada junto al Colegio Médico de Chile Web para consultas para integrantes de la comunidad universitaria U- de Chile Iniciativas de integrantes de la comunidad universitaria en tiempos de pandemia: https://www.uchile.cl/ChileCuentaconlaU Propuesta para una Estrategia Nacional de Salud Mental en contexto de pandemia: https://www.uchile.cl/portal/especiales/covid19/163020/estrategia-nacional-para-salud-mental-propuesta-a-mesa-social-covid-19 Japan Keio University Important Notices on COVID-19 (University Measures) Osaka University Latest information about the novel coronavirus from Osaka University Tohoku University COVID-19 Information and Preventive Measures Korea Seoul National University Link : SNU Academic Policies and Procedures against COVID-19 Infection Contact : 1) SNU Health Service Center : +82-2-880-5339 (From 9am to 6pm) 2) Gwanak-gu Community Health Center : +82-2-879-7131 (24 Hours) 3) Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(KCDC) : 1339 (24 Hours) Malaysia Universiti Malaya Creating the future of public health México Tecnológico de Monterrey Coronavirus Covid-19 Coronavirus Announcement – Tecnológico de Monterrey Cuida tu Mente New Zealand University of Auckland Coronavirus outbreak Philippines University of the Philippines Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Advice for the UP Community Singapore National University of Singapore NUS advisories:https://emergency.nus.edu.sg/circulars/ Dean of Students’ updates http://nus.edu.sg/osa/resources/dos-update Nanyang Technological University, Singapore NTU experts fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on all levels Guide for COVID-19 remote consultation by primary carers designed by NTU Singapore scientist and peers Thailand Chulalongkorn University Download the complete Summary of Chula’s responses to COVID-19. Chula COVID19 website: https://www.chula.ac.th/en/covid-19/ The Great Digital Leap Forward: https://qswownews.com/the-great-digital-leap-forward/ School of Integrated Innovation, Chulalongkorn University Moves to Hybrid Teaching Model Amidst Corona Outbreak CU Introduces Online Learning Innovation Center USA University of California Berkeley For travel advisory: https://globalengagement.berkeley.edu/faculty-staff/international-travel-resources For health advisory: https://uhs.berkeley.edu/news/health-advisory-coronavirus-2019-ncov University of California Davis UC Davis Global Affairs: Travel Announcement: Novel Coronavirus UC Davis Dateline: Coronavirus: Travel Warning, Other Cautions UC Davis Student Affairs: Coronavirus Update; Precautions During Cold and Flu Season UC Davis Health: What you need to know about the novel coronavirus University of California Los Angeles https://www.bso.ucla.edu University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa https://manoa.hawaii.edu/emergency/coronavirus-update/ Contact: Anderson Sutton Dean, School of Pacific and Asian Studies & Assistant Vice Chancellor for International and Exchange Programs email: [email protected] University of Southern California https://emergency.usc.edu University of Washington Novel coronavirus & COVID-19: facts and resources ALERT: COVID-19 travel restrictions
May 20, 2020more
Multi-Hazard Data Science Workshop Report
Recognizing that greatly improved data is necessary to support all facets of disaster research, the UC Davis scholars and experts placed the focus of the Multi-Hazard Data Science Workshop on improvements in data and decision science. This emphasis is congruent with the growing interest within the larger Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and APRU for the development of data science and data analytics expertise across the region. Please see a report generated from the workshop. For more information about the workshop please visit here.
September 18, 2019more
Campus Safety Workshop Report: Is your University ready for the next Natural Disaster?
The International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku University and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) held a “Building Disaster Resistant Universities ~Is Your University Ready for the next Natural Disaster?~” workshop February 2–4, 2016 at IRIDeS. Ms. Amy Aiken, Director of the Department of Emergency Management at Florida International University (FIU), was the invited trainer and facilitator, and more than 30 participants, including faculty, staff, and students from 16 universities in the United States, Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand attended. The workshop discussed lessons learned from other universities, common challenges and issues, and tools to develop an effective emergency plan that introduces necessary improvements and enhances overall university preparedness. See the Multi-Hazards web site for the full workshop report.
February 22, 2016more
APRU at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
The APRU Multi-Hazards Program (MHP) was actively involved in the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai in March 2015. Centered on the theme “Science and Practical Disaster Risk Reduction – The Role of Universities and Academia”, the APRU MHP organized three panel discussions at the public forum of the conference. Prof Fumihiko Imamura (Tohoku University), Dr Christopher Tremewan (Association of Pacific Rim Universities) and Dr Shuaib Lwasa (Integrated Research on Disaster Risk) welcomed the audience. All speakers highlighted the importance of the cooperation between higher education institutions, private sector, public administration and the civil society for successful disaster risk reduction in theory and practice. The first panel presented initiatives, ideas and solutions to “Bridging the Gap between Science and Practice”. Prof. Supot Teachavorasinskun (Chulalongkorn University) and Prof. Reid Basher (Victoria University of Wellington) were discussing with Rowan Douglas (Willis Research Network), Dr Yoshiko Abe (Kokusay Kogyo) and Masaaki Miyamoto (Pacific Consultants) and highlighting positive developments with the implementation of the Hyogo Framework of Action. The development of technology was highlighted in the second panel discussion. Prof John Rundle (University of California, Davis), Dr David Green, Dr Gerald Bowden (both National Aeronautics and Space Administration), Margaret Glasscoe (California Institute of Technology), Prof Shinji Toda (Tohoku University), Prof Yih-Chi Tan (National Taiwan University) and Prof Hui Zhang (Tsinghua University) introduced new developments in science that could help to strengthen emergency preparedness, disaster management and disaster recovery. Finally, DRR was reviewed from the social science perspective. Prof Hugo Romero, University of Chile, Prof Rajib Shaw, Kyoto University, Prof Karl Kim, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Prof. Takako Izumi, Tohoku University, Dr Manu Gupta, Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network and Dr Badaoui Rouhban were presenting on the positive development of the international disaster risk reduction community. They also highlighted the political and economic impact of disasters and climate change on local and indigenous communities. Dr Tremewan was also invited to speak at the panel discussion of the Asian University Network of Environment and Disaster Risk Management (AUEDM) and Partners Enhancing Resilience for People Exposed to Risk(Periperi-U) to share APRU’s vision of successful collaboration among higher education institutions on DRR strategies. His presentation attracted a lot of questions and interest in APRU. In addition, the MHP was able to strengthen the ties with other university networks and we were able to exchange experiences of research collaboration networks working on DRR.
April 15, 2015more
APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School 2014 Report is out now
The Report of the APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School 2014 is now available on our website. Have a look on what the very active and imaginative class of 2014 has discussed. Please download it from the link below. Download attachments: Report – Multi-Hazards Summer School 2014
August 22, 2014more
2nd Multi-Hazards Summer School 2014
APRU member universities are warmly invited to send a graduate/post-graduate student and/or faculty member to the second summer school for of the APRU-IRIDeS Multi-hazards Program: Multi-Hazards Summer School for Graduates, Post-Graduates and Researchers: Prepare for high-impact disasters: towards the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction Tohoku University, Sendai/Japan, 22-25 July 2014 To mark the second anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, APRU and Tohoku University launched the APRU-IRIDeS Multi-hazards Program in April 2013. The Program builds upon the strengths of eight APRU Multi-hazards symposia over the past decade in countries spanning the Pacific Ring of Fire. The International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) of Tohoku University now provides secretariat services as the regional program hub harnessing the collective capabilities of APRU universities for cutting-edge research on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and recovery, shares strategies to cope with campus disaster risk management, and contributes to international policy making processes on DRR. The 2nd APRU – IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School (July 22-25, 2014) is hosted and organized by IRIDeS, Tohoku University. The 2014 Multi-hazards Summer School objectives are to: Understand the mechanism of the international disaster risk reduction strategy; Learn from the experiences and recovery process of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami; Discuss the recommendations towards the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNWCDRR) in March 2015 in Sendai, Japan Develop an action plan for the preparedness capacity on campus. Program The Multi-Hazards Summer School consists of a 3-day seminar and a site visit to the affected area impacted by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The summer school topics will include: Hyogo Framework for Action ~ International framework for DRR ~ Lessons-learnt from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Good practices of DRR initiatives from overseas Campus safety Recommendation towards the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction Travel Costs The usual practice for APRU events is for participants to fund their own travel and accommodation. Where university funding is limited or not available, some funds for students have been set-aside by the APRU Secretariat and Tohoku University to assist with travel costs subject to applicants meeting certain requirements (students only). Please submit all requests for travel support to [email protected]. No registration fee is required for this summer school. Confirmation We hope your university will participate in this summer school. If so, please send the name, title, research interest/experience and contact information of your representatives by email to [email protected] with copy to [email protected] no later than May 16, 2014. We will accept the nomination/application only from the university, not from an individual student/faculty. Additional information More information on the 2nd APRU – IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School 2014 and the report of the APRU – IRIDeS Summer School 2013 can be downloaded below. If you have any queries regarding the summer school, please contact Dr Takako Izumi (APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Program Coordinator) at IRIDeS, Tohoku University at [email protected] with copy to [email protected]. Download attachments: APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School 2014 – Leaflet APRU-IRIDeS Multi-Hazards Summer School 2013 – Report
June 22, 2014more
9th Multi-Hazards Symposium 2013
The APRU symposium series on Multi-Hazards around the Pacific Rim hosted its ninth symposium from 28 to 29 October 2013 at National Taiwan University in Chinese Taipei. The 9th APRU symposium was hosted by the Center for Weather Climate and Disaster Research (WCDR) at National Taiwan University. For general information, please refer to the website http://www.apru2013.com/ A video link to the symposium can be found here. Welcome The 9th APRU symposium aims to convene scholars and experts from countries around the Pacific Rim. The inter-disciplinary knowledge on multi-hazard researches can be exchanged and shared through APRU collaboration. The symposium will focus on related topics of multi-hazards induced by extreme weather, earthquake, volcanic activity and haze pollution. Other issues are also included such as advanced monitoring and forecasting techniques, risk assessment, disaster health and emergency management, as well as education on disaster reduction.All the participants are encouraged to join discussion and exchange experience throughout the symposium. Call for papers (closed) The abstract submission is now available at http://www.apru2013.com/ All papers will be peer reviewed by an international scientific committee. Themes & Topics Multi-hazards induced by extreme weather Multi-hazards induced by earthquake Multi-hazards induced by volcanic activity Air pollution and haze related issue Disaster risk assessment and impact analysis Advanced research on monitoring, sensing, nowcasting and forecasting Disaster management and education Post-disaster recovery and reconstruction Disaster health and emergency management Key dates (updated) 5 May, 2013 Abstract submission 31 August 2013 Deadline for abstract submission 7 September, 2013 Notification of review results / abstract acceptance 14 September, 2013 Deadline for early‐bird registration 30 September, 2013 Deadline for late online registration 5 October, 2013 Final Program to be released online 28-29 October, 2013 Symposium period 30-31 October, 2013 Field trip Download attachments: 2013-0709_APRU_Invitation_En_1.pdf 2013-0709_Flyer_En_1.pdf
August 29, 2013more
Partnering for a less hazardous planet: Interview with Professor John Rundle
John Rundle is a Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Davis, and a thought leader in earthquake sciences. He is also an External Professor at the Sante Fe Institute, New Mexico; Director of the California Institute for Hazard Research of the University of California; Executive Director of the APEC Cooperation for Earthquake Simulation (ACES); and Chairman of the Open Hazards Group, a team dedicated to reducing the impacts of natural disasters. Prof Rundle attended the APRU Multi-hazards Symposium at Tohoku University, Japan. Being situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, all APRU universities face the common threat of earthquakes and tsunamis. What do you think are the opportunities for APRU universities to partner to address this shared threat? The APRU universities are the world’s leading repositories of knowledge and expertise for strategies, technologies, and data for confronting these devastating natural hazards. In addition, these universities will train the great majority of the next generation of intellectual leaders in the required areas of science and technologies. That being said, no university by itself has all of the needed expertise. For that reason, collaboration is mandatory. Where one university is comparatively weaker, another may be stronger. What has been missing is the scientific and technological framework, together with the institutional structure to allow this collaboration to develop and succeed. This is where the APRU contribution will be critically important. What do you think is the potential utility to APRU universities if projects like www.openhazards.com website was expanded around the Pacific Rim as a collaborative APRU project? The openhazards.com site is an open-access web site offering apps (applications) for personal seismic hazard forecasting, residential risk assessment, and other types of information and personal risk management utilities for the global public. Recently we have introduced social networking on the site, so that site visitors can define their own groups, upload photos, and originate discussion threads among groups of people. While intended as a disaster reduction resource for the general public, it is also highly useful as a means for collaboration among professional groups such as the APRU multihazards initiative. Unlike sites such as Facebook, which is not available in some APEC economies including China, and which has other aims, openhazards is meant to be a site primarily for those interested in disaster mitigation and reduction, providing apps in the form of tools and information to a global audience. While initially built as a site with disaster related apps, openhazards is now evolving into a social networking platform that is hosting and will host an increasing number of disaster-related apps for information and mitigation. We believe that a site such as openhazards can significantly and positively impact the problem of collaboration among these far-flung groups, and lead to modes of remote cooperation and collaboration not previously possible. Given the global trends in severity and frequency of natural disasters over the past decade – from the Aceh tsunami, to the Haiti earthquake to the Japan tsunami – do you think we are at an academic crossroads where knowledge generation in natural hazards should become an integral part of higher education strategies, rather than an option related to specific disciplinary backgrounds? Natural hazards affect all of us. As human populations increasingly move into at-risk areas, due to population growth and economic factors, human society is increasingly vulnerable to catastrophes. An example of these is global warming, which will put coastal areas at risk due to rising sea levels. Another example is tsunamis, such as the events of March 11, 2011 and of December 26, 2004. And since more than 30% of the worlds’ populations will live within seismically active zones within a few decades, it is clear that knowledge about natural disasters needs to be far more widely disseminated and understood than it has been to date. Who would have thought that New York city would be devastated by hurricane Sandy? It is clear that everyone needs to be aware of the destructive potential of natural events. And who would have thought that the Tohoku earthquake would make a measurable (negative) impact on the global economy? So yes, knowledge of natural hazards is no longer optional, but rather needs to be a strong component of higher education strategies. Can you share with us your experiences working with the APEC Cooperation for Earthquake Simulation (ACES) and how such collaborations are influencing regional earthquake/hazard policy with APEC? ACES (http://quakes.earth.uq.edu.au/) was proposed by Peter Mora at the University of Queensland in 1997, and was approved at the APEC ISTWG meeting in Singapore that year, having been sponsored by the Australian economy. The original partner economies, along with Australia, were China, Japan, and the United States. Since then, the economies of Canada, Chinese Taipei, and New Zealand have joined and regularly participate. Officially sanctioned meetings have been organized by the various economies since 1998, the most recent being in Maui, HI, Oct 23-26, 2012, hosted by the United States. In the years ACES group has been meeting, we have found that we have a great number of common interests and there have been exchanges of codes, scientists, and students. However, one of the modes that needs some further consideration and development is the mechanisms of collaboration , inasmuch as the research groups are separated by many thousands of miles around the Pacific Rim. Travel among these locations has been and will always be a significant detriment to collaboration among these far-flung groups. This has led our group to develop a new approach, utilizing new social networking ideas, as described below. Another requirement that has become apparent is the need for a more permanent, overarching structure or umbrella organization under which to operate. This requirement motivates the ACES interest collaborating with the APRU muiltihazards initiative to move both research organizations forward. We know that climate change already poses unprecedented threats to the global population and environment. On top of this, what impacts can earthquakes have on the broader adaptation/mitigation debate, based on your studies of earthquake behavior? It has been said that because climate change is gradual, it may be possible to adapt in certain ways. However, great disasters such as the Tohoku earthquake have often been unanticipated, making disaster response extremely challenging. While humans may be able to adapt to climate change, they can only respond to sudden great disasters, and must therefore rely on mitigation strategies. Within the next decades, more than a third of the world’s populations will live in seismically active zones. As the great Tohoku earthquake indicated, these great disasters will have an increasingly measureable impact on the global economy, not to mention the considerable loss of life and property. Many of these seismically active regions lie along global coastlines, and are thus economically critical to the continuation of international trade and economic development. Coastlines cannot be abandoned, so new types of strategies must be developed that allow economies to grow and respond to great coastal and earthquake disasters. Only the APRU universities have the intellectual capability to develop and formulate strategies to implement these approaches. Can you tell us a bit about new approaches that you and your research group are taking in forecasting or managing hazard and risk? Our forecasting approaches are explained in a series of publications in the peer-reviewed literature over the past decade, the most recent of which has been published in the prestigious journal Physical Review E* . Basically we use small earthquakes to forecast the probability of large earthquakes. In addition, a more general and probably more accessible description can be found at http://www.openhazards.com/topics-forecasts. *J.B. Rundle, J.R. Holliday, W.R. Graves, D.L. Turcotte, K.F. Tiampo and W. Klein, Probabilities for large events in driven threshold systems, Phys. Rev. E, 86, 021106 (2012)
January 16, 2013more