SSCI 214g: Human Populations and Natural Hazards

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SSCI 214g: Human Populations and Natural Hazards

Satisfies General Education Category C (Social Analysis)

Would you like to understand the causes of our changing world climate and impact upon individuals and society? Are you interested in strategies that could reduce the impact of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and other natural hazards upon vulnerable individuals and communities and contribute to a more sustainable future?

In SSCI 214g, we examine questions such as:

  • What do hazard, risk, vulnerability, and disaster mean, and how are these terms measured?
  • What do hazards have to do with human values?
  • How is exposure to environmental hazards different in developing and industrialized countries, and why are some communities more resilient than others?
  • What responsibility does the government have to protect individuals from risk?

Using quantitative and qualitative methods – including geospatial technologies – you’ll gain insight into the subsequent impacts disaster events have on the social world (such as mortality, displacement, property damage, or other losses). You’ll reflect on how society evaluates and confronts the dangers posed by natural hazards, and how political, economic, and/or cultural settings can serve to attenuate or exacerbate human vulnerability before, during, or after a disaster occurs.

"During my time enrolled in SSCI 214, I learned about pivotal global events and their impact on people and the environment. There was always something new to learn and to consider. I appreciated how the course informed my global perspective."
-- Daniris R.

In this course, you'll construct a Story Map, an online platform that integrates visual media with data. Take a look at these examples of Story Maps produced by students in SSCI 214g. 

Past guest speakers have included:

  • Gregory Elwood, GIS Specialist, Incident Command System Geographic Information Systems Specialist (ICS/GISS), Ventura County Fire - Department, specializing in mapping wildland fires, mudslides and debris flows, and other major natural and man-made disasters
  • COL [R] Steven D. Fleming, Ph.D., Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences at the Spatial Sciences Institute and Institute for Creative Technologies
  • Steven Goldfarb, CEM, EML, EMT, Fire Safety and Emergency Planning Specialist, USC Office of Fire Safety and Emergency Planning
  • Kenneth W. Hudnut, Ph.D., Science Advisor for Risk Reduction, Research Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Andrew J. Marx, Ph.D., Associate Professor of the Practice of Spatial Sciences at the Spatial Sciences Institute

Here's a recent syllabus.