Student researcher

Liberty Pascua Research Leader


Knowledge saves lives. This is the premise to the Hyogo Framework for Action’s (HFA) call to governments to integrate DRR education in formal, informal, and non-formal channels of every country’s education systems. There has been varying levels of responsiveness to this call at the policy level. At the school curriculum level, knowledge itself is a contentious subject. One camp espouses teaching on the scientific bases of disasters; another prefers to focus on the usefulness of indigenous knowledges. While knowledge is viewed as the key element for the practice of risk-minimisation behaviour, there are those who are less optimistic, regarding knowledge to have negligible impact to managing risk.

This study rejects the artificial compartmentalisation of knowledges (indigenous vs scientific; school-based vs community-based, etc.). It looks at the context of education and learning and the construction of knowledge as a political, cultural and social affair. Its basic assumption is that learning happens in and outside the classroom, and the resultant ‘knowledges’ are tapped into differently for different purposes. The main objective was to unpack the processes involved in the construction and perpetuation of DRR knowledge/s, highlight their intersections, overlaps, and disjoints, and examine their implications to the learning of disasters.

Research Settings

The research zeroed-in on communities that are prone to natural disasters. Vanuatu and the Philippines are first and third in the list of most vulnerable territories, with Port Vila in Vanuatu consistently ranked as the most exposed city in the world to natural disasters. Casiguran town in Northern Philippines is both a seismic and typhoon-prone area. Typhoons that hit the island of Luzon typically make landfall in Casiguran. While Australia does not feature prominently as a precarious territory, the shire of Exmouth in South Australia has all the features of a vulnerable community. Similar to Casiguran town, it is the first to be pummelled with cyclones that form in the tropical waters of Australia. The study specifically focused on meteorological hazards such as typhoons/cyclones. The research schedule was tailored to the likelihood of said hazards in the research sites. For instance, typhoons visit the Philippines from July to November. In Australia and Vanuatu, the cyclone season stretches from November-April. Fieldwork in Casiguran town will be in September-October 2017. In Exmouth, the fieldwork will be from October-November 2017 and in Port Vila, January 2018. 

Significance of the research

An intimate, in-depth understanding of how learners in their communities make use of ‘knowledges’ in making sense of disasters is a valuable resource in informing policies on DRR education and governance at the local, state, and international levels.  This extends beyond meteorological risks to other forms of hazards such as bushfires in Australia and seismic activities in Vanuatu and the Philippines, the latter being the researcher’s home country. 

Year Type Citation
2021 Thesis Pascua, L. Precarious places, precarious knowledges: Interrogating epistemic inclusion and integration in Disaster Risk Reduction education. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Sydney School of Education and Social Work Doctor of Philosophy, 341 (2021).
2017 Conference Paper Pascua, L. Disaster risk reduction education through the lens of postcolonial theory. Network in Education for Sustainability Asia Conference 2017 (Network in Education for Sustainability Asia, 2017). at <>
2015 Journal Article Pascua, L. & Chang, C. - H. Using intervention-oriented evaluation to diagnose and correct students’ persistent climate change misconceptions: A Singapore case study. Evaluation and Program Planning 52, (2015).