Introduction to the Content and Overview of the Module:

This curriculum module includes two distinct sections (outlined below). The module introduces learner(s) to the relevant concepts by invoking the case study Sri Lanka and the experience of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the ethnic conflict. (1983-2009).

By focusing specifically on two communities in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka – this module includes both a deep analysis of the cultural setting while scaling out to broader sociological concepts pertinent to the study of the social dimensions of disasters. These concepts include: defining “disasters” as a social construction, “disaster recovery” as something that is a multi- faceted, a non-linear process, and a function of pre-existing community-level vulnerabilities and resilience, and “social capital” as a community resource which works differently depending on the religious and political milieu. Further, the module will investigate the role of international entities in Sri Lanka’s recovery and comment on disaster recovery efforts as “development projects” as to illuminate and critique the cultural in/competences of various projects.

The module illuminates the socio-cultural aspects of “disasters” as they relate specifically to eastern Sri Lanka discussing how ethno-religious affiliations of communities (defined as Grama Niladhari divisions) interact with the recovery process to produce varying recovery outcomes for two socially distinct yet geographically similar populations.

One community is a mixed-religion Tamil community in Kallady, and the other is a 100% Muslim community in Kattankudy. These GN divisions are roughly 7 kilometers apart from each other, and experienced similar effects of the tsunami waves, but had vastly different recovery trajectories and outcomes. These trajectories and outcomes can be directly linked to their ethno-religious demographic differences, which led to varying experiences with the ethnic violence.

The module may be suitable for courses in: Sociology, Anthropology, Religious/Cultural Studies, Geography, Environmental Studies, and Engineering among others. Depending on the topic of the course and the level of students—each section could be taught independently of the other, or they can be used as a progressive series. Detailed learning objectives are included with each section so that the instructor may make informed decisions about effective use of the materials.

Each section in this module includes the following 7 parts:

  1. A detailed outline of the section with background information, bibliographic resources for the instructors preparation, and a set of learning objectives corresponding to the various stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy;
  2. Two peer-reviewed articles that may be used as background information for the instructor and/or as assigned reading for students;
  3. A set of PowerPoint slides covering the key concepts outlined in the section that may be used to a brief lecture and to facilitate classroom discussion. (Provided in both .ppt and .pdf format.);
  4. A video recording of the PowerPoint presentation (given in part 4) that may be assigned to students for out-of-classroom viewing;
  5. One assignment to address higher level learning objectives (application/creation) with a corresponding assessment rubric;
  6. Links to relevant multi-media resources included in the section;
  7. A brief list of resources for further investigation.

Key concepts and topics by section:

Section 1:

“Disasters and Disaster Recovery”

Section 2:

“Social Capital and Disaster Recovery”

  • What is the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
  • What is the “Sociology of Hazards and Disasters”
  • What is a “disaster”?
  • What is “disaster recovery”?
  • How is “disaster recovery” a theoretical concept?
  • How are social inequalities and “vulnerability” linked to the disaster cycle?
  • What is “sustainable recovery”?
  • What is “development” (in the context of disasters and disaster recovery)?
  • What is “cultural competence”?
  • What is “social capital” and what are the different forms?
  • How do comparative studies of different communities help us to better understand “social capital’?
  • The relationship between religious institutions and community-level social capital
  • Review: what is “cultural competence”?
  • What are some ethical issues that arise in the discussion/investigation of “disaster recovery as development”?