Case Study Instructions
Write a case study of a natural disaster that occurred at least FOUR years ago. It can be any natural event, occurring anywhere in the world. Each person must have their own disaster, each of which must be approved by me BEFORE the deadline of February 8 (third week of class). If you have not selected one by that date, I will assign one to you. The final paper is to be submitted electronically – through Canvas – by April 26. I will return it to you, graded, via Canvas.
In addition, you will post a summary of your case study as a page on the blog site, by Sunday April 21 at 11.59pm. I will assign ‘readers’ – two or more of your classmates, as well as me, will read your page and comment on it. Thus everyone will also have a ‘read & comment’ component for this assignment. Due date for comments is Friday April 26 at 6.00pm.
I suggest that you choose a topic that is inherently interesting to you. It might be in a location you know of or it might be a type of disaster you have knowledge of, or are fascinated by. There are many many many to choose from; ask if you need help.
This is not meant to be a huge project, but is intended to be a comprehensive study of a particular disaster. In total, it is worth 15% of your grade and I hope you can get a very high score by following these instructions closely.
How long should it be? That depends on how much detail you have available. I am not looking for any specific length; I am looking for appropriate descriptions in each section! I think you should have 5 pages at a minimum, 10 pages at a maximum. Diagrams, maps and images will be extra. Your report will be typed. Use a 12-point font (like this one) and single line spacing (like this!). I will grade it electronically.
Use a minimum of THREEE academic sources, including journals and books from the library. You may find news media and popular magazines helpful – try to choose trustworthy ones. Do use images and diagrams if they convey information that cannot adequately be described otherwise. Very often case studies are done for places with which students are not familiar – so include a map! Each figure should be introduced in the text (e.g. “figure 1 shows the area of inundation…”) and should have an explanatory caption with a URL or source citation directly below it.
Use spell check.
On the blog page, you can include video is there is any available.
Citation style should be APA. Use citations throughout the text for specific information (like number of people injured, amount of damage suffered) and also for information that is more than general knowledge. If you didn’t know a fact before you started this study, then you need to include a citation! Use (Author, Year) within the text and put a list of references at the very end, in alphabetical order by author’s last name. If you include a direct quote, put it in quotation marks and cite the author with the page number. If you are uncertain, ask. If you need help finding references, ask! Don’t forget to visit the Writing Center for extra credit!!
Write in complete, grammatically correct sentences, as professionally as possible. Proof-read your work; reading out loud to yourself is a very good way to do this.
The format should be as follows, with the six sections as outlined. The sections may be numbered, or you may use subheadings to separate them. Emergency, Restoration and Reconstruction Phases refer to those in Figure 1, below. You should say something about each phase.
Name, Location & Date of Disaster
1. Explain the physical process that caused this disaster. What happened? Give as much background as possible regarding the type of hazard and the details leading up to this disaster. It may have been a single event, or a sequence of events that led up to the final disaster. You may have secondary hazards that cause more damage than primary (e.g. 2004 Indonesia tsunami was secondary, after an earthquake). Explain as much as possible.
2. Was the population aware of this type of hazard and/or of the risk they faced? Had this type of event occurred before? Had any mitigation or preparation been planned? Was the population prepared in any way?
3. How vulnerable was the population? Give some assessment of vulnerability, which might include socioeconomic status, age, wealth, education, type of industry or economy in the area, how capable people were of escaping the hazard or the disaster, and anything else you can think of.
4. Describe the phases of recovery:
4a. Emergency phase. How long did it last? What happened? Include any figures you find on numbers dead and injured, buildings collapsed, infrastructure damaged. Include any descriptions. What kinds of emergency actions took place? Who carried out search and rescue? Where were survivors fed and sheltered? Who did the initial clearance work? Do you have any impression of public opinion at that time?
4b. Restoration phase. How long did it last? What kinds of activities were required? Was the work done by the native population/community, by people brought in from outside by contractors or private owners, or by government entities? Did the original population move back? What kinds of services were restored first?
4c. Reconstruction phases (to replace what was lost, and to improve upon what was there before). How long did this take – or is it still going on? Did reconstruction focus exactly on replacement of what was lost? Was any mitigation included, like levees or a sea wall or strengthening of bridges or altering building codes?
5. It has been at least four years since the disaster you described. Assess the awareness of the population of the risk from this type of hazard. This might be in the form of formal evacuation drills and disaster preparation notices, or it might be in the form of smaller community preparation and family stories… What preparation for another event has occurred? Any real adaptations to the event you describe? If not, explain why not.
6. References: include an alphabetical listing of all the sources you used to write this report. If you used online sources, include the name of the web site, the URL and the date you accessed it. Otherwise, include Author, date, title of article and name of publication. One or two authors have all names included in the text and in the references section. Three or more authors become FirstName et al. in the text but ALL names are written out in the references section. For online references, look for an actual author and a date of publication. If you cannot find these, reference the information by organization (e.g. United States Geological Survey) and put in your date of access. Look up APA style online (http://libguides.umw.edu/content.php?pid=245752&sid=2029721#6812497). ASK if you’re not sure how to cite something.
Godschalk, D. R., A. Rose, E. Mittler, K. Porter and C. Taylor West. 2009. Estimating the value of foresight: aggregate analysis of natural hazard mitigation benefits and costs. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 52:6, 739-756.
Keller, E. A. and R. H. Blodgett. 2009. Natural Hazards; Earth’s Processes as Hazards, Disasters, and Catastrophes2nd edition, Pearson Prentice Hall.
Zoback, M. L. 2009. Crystal Ball Earth: Natural Hazards: Reducing society’s risks. Earth; retrieved January 8 2012 from http://www.earthmagazine.org/earth/article/2c9-7d9-c-b
How will I grade this assignment?
- 10% will be your written report – I will provide a rubric for this in Canvas
- 3% will be your summary, created as a page on our blog site
- 2% will be your written comment response to the two case studies you are assigned to read – I’m looking for evidence that you read the summary and thought critically about it; not that you criticize it, but that you consider and question the event and response.
Haas, J.E., Kates, R. and Bowden, M. J. (eds) 1977: Reconstruction Following Disaster. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.