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This content is taken from the Coventry University's online course, Community Preparedness, Recovery and Resilience: An Introduction. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds We are, by nature, social animals. Communities of people. Where interactions and shared capabilities form the basis of our survival and allow us to flourish.

Skip to 0 minutes and 30 seconds We need to engage with each other, we need to come to places like this, where we can meet, where we can find out what’s happening around us. We need to talk through our problems, we need to identify possible solutions. And by coming together, we can become more resilient. The Rising Café, here in Coventry Cathedral is one of those places. The Cathedral suffered heavy bombing during the Second World War. The ruins and the new cathedral have become a symbol of revival. Likewise the café funds a charity that helps restore broken lives - supporting vulnerable women/men and families who are recovering from social exclusion, homelessness or substance abuse.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds And whether we acknowledge it or not, communities, however we define them, are the first responders in an emergency or disaster. In this module, we’ll evaluate what it means to be a community - and the ways in which they are resilient. And we’ll look at how practitioners should work alongside communities to ensure that their interventions are appropriate, sustainable and increased local people’s resilience.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds Practitioner: “‘We began to say, well actually, what matters is not so much resilience of shelter but the resilience of people in South Sudan and how people cope with the risks they face.” Resilience has become a buzz-word. What it actually means is more than a Community Emergency Plan, building a safe house or having an early warning system. It’s a holistic approach with people at the centre.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 seconds Places like this, and the people within them, serve many purposes. They are social platforms - community focal-points. They encourage interactions that enrich people’s lives. Much like the course you’re about to embark upon. So get involved with the discussions and the chats because you’re all going to benefit from engaging with each other.

Introduction to the course

Watch the video in which your lead educator El Parker welcomes you to this Coventry University Online open course.

In this course you will address issues arising in the emergency planning, disaster management, humanitarian relief and development sectors. In so doing, you will be able to compare and contrast approaches and share the lessons identified.

Historically, risk management and preparedness has been the domain of professionals who design and develop interventions often based on technological and organisational systems. We have come to realise that achieving sustainable and resilient communities requires a different approach.

One is summed up in the following extract:

Authorities should open up their planning institutions and processes to a full range of knowledge bearers, including those from the arts and humanities, social sciences and lay people who represent communities and themselves. Too often planning for disaster is done by economists, engineers, some natural scientists, military and police experts alone.

(Wisner 2012)

This is the first short course of the Community Preparedness, Recovery and Resilience program, which forms part of both the MSc Emergency Management and Resilience and the MSc Disaster Management and Resilience online degrees at Coventry University, delivered via FutureLearn.

This week you will:

  • Examine trends in reported disaster impacts on people

  • Explore the shift in the emergency and disaster management sectors from response to community disaster risk reduction

  • Assess links between sustainable development and disaster risk reduction

  • Examine how community resilience is being increased in two different case studies

  • Analyse community vulnerability in the local context and its external influencing factors

Meet the team

Your lead educator on the course is El Parker, who is principal lecturer in Disaster Management and course director for MSc programs.

You can follow her by navigating to her FutureLearn profile pages and clicking ‘follow’. That way, you’ll be able to see all the comments that she makes.

Checking your progress

When you reach the end of a step and have understood everything, click the ‘mark as complete’ button. This will update your progress page, and help you keep track of the steps you’ve completed. Any steps you’ve finished will turn blue on your to-do list.

You can check your progress page by clicking the icon at the top of the step. You’ll then see what percentage of the course steps you’ve marked as complete.

Your task

What interests you about community resilience?

Share your answer with your fellow learners.


Wisner, B., Gaillard, J. C., and Kelman, Ilan. (2012) The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction. Abingdon, UK: Routledge

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This video is from the free online course:

Community Preparedness, Recovery and Resilience: An Introduction

Coventry University