Crowding the Rim: Global Consequences of Natural Hazards
Grade Level: High School – Community College
Includes curriculum unit + 16 color transparencies + CD-ROM
In August 2001, a group of natural and social scientists, business and industry leaders, educators, emergency managers, representatives from non-governmental organizations, and government officials from throughout the Pacific Rim met at Stanford University for a meeting about natural hazards in the Pacific Rim entitled Crowding the Rim Summit. The summit was a component of the Crowding the Rim Initiative, an international, public–private partnership sponsored by the American Red Cross, Circum-Pacific Council, Stanford University, and the United States Geological Survey.
The mission of the Crowding the Rim Initiative is to examine the growing economic and societal consequences of hazards associated with natural hazards in the Pacific Rim. The concepts presented at the summit emphasize the extent to which natural hazards affect the entire population in the Pacific Rim, regardless of whether or not a natural hazard occurs in one's own "backyard." The goals of the Crowding the Rim Initiative are to develop a better understanding of the effects of regional disasters on public and private sectors, educate communities around the Pacific Rim about the extensive nature of regional risk, and introduce scientific tools and technology that support effective risk-reduction decisions.
The curriculum unit, Crowding the Rim: Global Consequences of Natural Hazards, is another component of the Crowding the Rim Initiative. The unit is designed to serve as a bridge between the Crowding the Rim Initiative and the community, particularly secondary and post-secondary schools. Realizing the widespread effects that natural hazards can inflict upon regions in terms of human lives and economy, Crowding the Rim: Global Consequences of Natural Hazards has been developed to inform future Pacific Rim decisionmakers regarding issues of risk. The key goal of the unit is to lend youth to an understanding of the collective vulnerabilities throughout the Pacific Rim. Using this knowledge, students can develop tools and methods to reduce these vulnerabilities and promote societal sustainability. Ideally, these young people will eventually build a collaborative team of nations that acknowledges the economic and humanitarian benefits that all nations can share.
Crowding the Rim: Global Consequences of Natural Hazards engages students interactively in an exploration of natural hazards in the Pacific Rim. The unit introduces students to HazPac (Hazards of the Pacific), an online Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database, which serves as an exploration tool for the lessons. As a dynamic and interactive map database, HazPac illustrates how the aftereffects of natural hazards not only affect the people and economies of the immediate area but distant communities as well.
Specifically, HazPac allows students to explore the database through inquiry. By asking questions, students can visualize the complex socio-economic relationships that are at risk to natural hazards among Pacific Rim countries. The curriculum unit engages students in a hands-on, practical way through interdisciplinary and open-ended activities and offers them a basis for which to use HazPac in new ways.
This unit, comprised of six lessons, will provide students with the tools to develop a rudimentary understanding of natural hazard risks and interdependence in the Pacific Rim. Although the unit focuses on the Pacific Rim, the skills and knowledge gained also apply to other regions of the world.
Lesson One, What is Risk?, revolves around the concept of risk to set the context for the four subsequent lessons on natural hazard risk. Students collect news articles relating to natural hazard events around the Pacific Rim and are introduced to the general concept of risk. In an effort to understand this concept, students will consider the causes of risk, who is at risk, and whether or not risk can be decreased. To enhance their awareness of and sensitivity to natural hazard risk, students view a variety of photographs depicting both direct and indirect causes and consequences of natural disasters. Students are then led to consider how people can better protect themselves and their community in the future.
Lesson Two uses the HazPac GIS database to explore natural hazards in the Pacific Rim. This lesson teaches students how to use the basic tools of HazPac while exploring the coincidence of population and natural hazard risk. Students then learn how to use the more sophisticated analytical tools of HazPac in a comparison of Lima, Peru and Tokyo, Japan. Through an analysis of risk exposure, students consider the interconnectedness of the region. Students complete this lesson with a discussion about the exposure to risk in their own community.
In Lesson Three, students rank ten Pacific Rim cities by their exposure to natural hazard risk, using and expanding on the skills learned in Lesson Two. Students will complete three separate rankings using three different definitions of risk: perceived risk, calculated risk, and parochial risk. This lesson concludes with a discussion of the concept of value. A brainstorming session requires students to think about how cities can better prepare for natural hazards.
In Lesson Four, students examine a case study from the Hanshin earthquake in Kobe, Japan and then focus group research to include a natural disaster relevant to their community. In both cases, the students are challenged to understand the numerous impacts that natural disasters have around the Pacific Rim region.
Lesson Five incorporates scholarship from the Crowding the Rim Summit into an activity called Readers' Theater. The Readers' Theatre allows students to assume the roles of a few of the key players at the Summit. Through the Readers' Theater activity, students become familiar with possible mitigation efforts and gain a better understanding of the importance of mitigation and the various issues and points of view involved.
Lesson Six concludes the unit by exposing students to a variety of resources to help them and their community be more prepared for a local or regional disaster. Students will evaluate their own level of preparedness and that of their families, peers, neighbors, and community. Students then decide how they will make a difference. Each is encouraged to initiate and participate in a project to share what s/he has learned about natural hazard risk and mitigation with her/his peers, families, and community.
Each of the six lessons in this curriculum unit lists specific learning objectives, which are divided into knowledge, attitude, and skill objectives. The following are larger goals for the curriculum unit as a whole.
- To discover the risk of natural hazards in the Pacific Rim region
- To examine the relationships among natural hazards, economics, and population
- To explore the "ripple effects" of natural hazards throughout the Pacific Rim
- To understand the regional interdependence among economies and how they are affected by natural hazards
- To think critically about social issues through the utilization of GIS technology