[URBANTH-L]ANN: Ph.D. Summer Academy on Social Vulnerability (Munich)

Angela Jancius jancius3022 at comcast.net
Sun Dec 21 11:34:17 EST 2008

(forwarded from eanth-l at listserv.uga.edu)

Call for Applications

Munich Re Foundation and United Nations University Institute for
Environment and Human Security proudly announce the fourth annual
Summer Academy on Social Vulnerability

Tipping Points in Humanitarian Crises
26 July - 01 August 2009
at the historic Hohenkammer Castle (Schloss Hohenkammer)
in the countryside outside of Munich, Germany

Chair/Director of the 2009 Academy: Thomas E. Downing
Co-director: Mohamed Hamza

Accepting applications until 15 January 2009

We invite qualified PhD candidates who have an interdisciplinary
focus and are working on dissertations related to environment,
social vulnerability, disaster risk reduction, resilience and
institutional management and change, to apply for the 2009 Summer
Academy by 15 January 2009. Most participants are expected to be
PhD students, ideally in their second or third year.  However, a
few places will be reserved for practitioners who wish to take a
step back from their operational work to engage with young
researchers on this strategic issue. Applications are submitted
online at www.ehs.unu.edu.


The summer academy provides a platform for around twenty
outstanding PhD candidates from all over the world to present and
discuss their research with leading international experts and
scholars in social vulnerability, as well as senior scientists
from the United Nations University and Munich Re Foundation. The
summer academy is designed to advance the science of social
vulnerability by discussing "state of the art" research needs and 
strategies to address academic, policy and practical challenges 
and knowledge gaps.

Tipping points in humanitarian crises

The multiple stresses of dynamic vulnerability are embedded in
coupled socio-ecological systems. The tendency has been to assume
that one complex of vulnerability persists into the future without
causing structural and functional changes in societies. Neither
would it lead to a shift to a different complex of vulnerability.
Yet, the literature recognises that vulnerability (and even more
so resilience) is dynamic; the outcomes of interactions between
social agents and the environment, across scales.

The topic of the 2009 Summer Academy builds on the first three
academies, which focused on water-related (2006-Ursula Oswald
Spring, Director) and mega-cities (2007-Hans Georg Bohle,
Director) social vulnerabilities and resilience-building, and the
interplay of environmental migration and social vulnerability
(2008-Anthony Oliver-Smith, Director). The academy will integrate
the role of environment and the managed landscape, socio-economic
processes of displacement and migration, and the institutions that
mediate between sustainability and collapse. Further on, the
academy will explore plausible futures where a complex of
vulnerability tips into a humanitarian crisis. Conversely, we also
intend to explore the potential for scaled up improvements in
livelihoods, those plausible futures that achieve sustainability
and a substantial reduction in vulnerability. With the focus in
2009 on the run-up to COP15, climate change will be a central

Academy format and programme

The 2009 Summer Academy is designed to maximize interaction and
encourage innovative problem-solving among participants. Instead
of classical teaching we planned our academy to be discursive and
participative. We expect participants to provide their active
inputs in the working sessions facilitated by an expert team.

The entire working week will be devoted to a simulation
representing a real-world situation. Participants will be assigned
various tasks and the outcome of the exercise is expected to be
presented to international stakeholders. Therefore, participants
must come prepared to work together in a demanding context; their
output will be evaluated in a final 'town hall' hearing at the
academy. Among other academic activities, a briefing to the
Adaptation Fund Board  recommending an annex to their handbook on
how to design and fund projects that reduce the risk of large
scale tipping points, economic collapse and humanitarian crises,
will be prepared. Participants would work in groups on the various
sections, from rationale to project templates and monitoring and

For questions please contact:

Ms. Xiaomeng Shen
Associate Academic Officer a.i.
Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
United Nations University                                UN
Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10
53113 BONN Germany
email: shen at ehs.unu.edu

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