In associated form with: REDI Research Consortium, Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Istituto Nazionale Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Gran Sasso Science Institute
The doctoral program “Natural hazards and disaster risk reduction” arises from the experience gained by the proposing institutions within the Research, Innovation, and Training Consortium “REducing risks of natural DIsaster – REDI” (http://www.redi-research.eu/it/homepage/). As indicated by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (United Nations General Assembly, 2015; https://www.undrr.org/), disaster risk reduction is based on the development of a process represented by subsequent activities, defined within specific priorities:
- Priority 1: Understanding disaster risk.
- Priority 2: Strengthening disaster risk governance.
- Priority 3: Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.
- Priority 4: Enhancing disaster preparedness for an effective response and “building back better” in recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
Each of these “priorities”, and even more so, the process, requires knowledge and skills that connect different disciplines with interdisciplinary methods and effectively address interacting aspects in the field of earth sciences, engineering, urban planning, landscape and civil protection, health sciences, humanities, social sciences, economics, and law.
The inability to develop an effective process for reducing the risk associated with natural events is dramatically evident in Italy. Regarding earthquake alone, from the Belice earthquake to the present day, in addition to the hundreds of victims, the damages are estimated at 190 billion euros. Furthermore, the reconstruction processes have been extremely slow and often ineffective. Currently, there are seven ongoing reconstructions, each with its own “model”, with different rules and procedures. The training of new scientific and professional figures, capable of working synergistically on the “priorities” indicated by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, with a clear understanding of the overall process, can contribute to bridging this deep gap between the concrete needs of prevention and the actions taken by the State, both at the national and regional and municipal levels.
The approach adopted by the doctoral program is therefore holistic. Enrollment will be open to students from different disciplinary areas and, deliberately, will offer only one doctoral curriculum. It will be the task of the excellent and interdisciplinary faculty board to identify the most suitable supervisor, in relation to the different research topics of the individual projects, which may include:
- Natural phenomena (earthquakes, volcanoes, hydrogeological instability, tsunamis) and the associated hazard, both in terms of energy, return periods, and predictability.
- Innovative systems/design for earthquake-resistant structures, aimed at reducing the vulnerability of buildings, infrastructure, and cultural heritage.
- Community exposure and social and economic vulnerability.
- Urban and landscape planning, civil protection, and effective regulatory tools for reconstruction.
- Essential structural and non-structural measures for disaster risk reduction, to improve the economic, social, health, and cultural resilience of communities.
- Economic development of affected areas, including through reconstruction policies.
The organization of dedicated seminars and an annual autumn school will allow for the necessary scientific interaction to adequately prepare students in identifying effective actions for reducing the risk associated with natural events.
The partnership of the course, represented by the proposing institutions, along with the diverse expertise and affiliations within the faculty, will provide students with all the necessary tools for their comprehensive and effective training, enabling them to tackle the major scientific and technological challenges of the future in the field of reducing risks associated with natural events.
The objective of the doctoral program in “Natural hazards and disaster risk reduction” is to provide highly specialized training that is also framed within a multidisciplinary context, enabling a holistic approach to the assessment of natural hazards, the reduction of associated risks, and the mitigation of their effects. The program also aims to foster the capacity for social and economic resilience within the affected communities. With the common denominator of being part of a unified process concerning the reduction of risks associated with natural events, as defined by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the program will provide scientific knowledge and skills in innovative technologies to train students capable of making original contributions in the specific fields of the various disciplines involved, including earth sciences, engineering, urban and landscape planning, civil protection, health sciences, social sciences, economics, and law.
The doctoral graduates in “Natural hazards and disaster risk reduction” will be expected to embody an innovative scientific and professional profile, trained in the assessment, prevention, and reduction of disaster risks ex ante, as well as in the design of post-disaster reconstruction policies ex post. They will be equipped to effectively and primarily contribute to relevant work areas related to their specialization, such as research and higher education institutions, regional, national, or international entities responsible for defining public and private investments. They will apply preventive, structural, and non-structural measures. They will also find opportunities in companies concerned with this field (e.g., construction, insurance, large industries facilities) that require advanced skills typical of a doctoral graduate.
The strong international character of the proposing partners will enable students to consider their integration at both European and non-European levels. The achievement of these objectives will be facilitated by an extensive network of structured international collaborations and individual researchers, the involvement of international institutions and companies in co-financing doctoral programs, and participation in existing national and European networks projects.
EXPECTED EMPLOYMENT AND PROFESSIONAL PROSPECTS
At the end of their journey, the doctoral graduates in “Natural hazards and disaster risk reduction” will be capable of pursuing promising careers in basic and applied research at public or private universities and research institutions, both in Italy and abroad. They will also have opportunities for employment in public and private entities in the fields of research and development, management, and/or the direction and coordination of scientific activities. Access to international careers will be facilitated by the numerous relationships and scientific projects of the proposing partners, as well as by the fact that the doctoral school of Unicam, as well as that of GSSI where the educational activities will take place, use English as the language for all their training and research activities. Both universities have a strong international student and researcher community. Additionally, in recent years, university spin-offs and startups have gained importance, providing additional employment opportunities for doctoral graduates. Each university now has business incubators that offer high-level employment and foster an entrepreneurial spirit aimed at creating high-tech and innovative jobs. For example, the University of Camerino has its own incubator (with 20 spin-offs in 2021 and around a hundred young researchers employed), which primarily aims to involve our doctoral graduates. The topics, methods, and skills acquired by the doctoral graduates that characterize the proposed doctoral program are of primary interest not only for excellence in research but also for technology transfer and spin-off initiatives.