Part 1: Read the following article, and provide some points or answers to the questions listed below.

Nakagawa, Y., & Shaw, R. (2004). Social capital: A missing link to disaster recovery. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters22(1), 5-34.

  1. Define, and discuss the various aspects of the three forms of social capital, and how they may manifest at different phases of the disaster cycle.
    1. Bonding social capital
    2. Bridging social capital
    3. Linking social capital
  2. What is the role of “trust” in the recovery process?
  3. Describe the link between “recovery” and “development”?
  4. What role does community participation play in the recovery process?

Part 2: Evaluate the cultural competence of the approaches to disaster relief and recovery from and/or media coverage of various disasters illustrated in current events in the U.S. and abroad.

Students can be given a choice between various disasters that are well documented in popular media. I recommend choosing disasters of different types (man made vs. natural, specifically). Additionally, I recommend choosing disasters from various points in time – if the students are especially media-savvy, it could be a good challenge for them to dig up reports and media on disasters that took place before they were probably paying special attention to disasters in the media (early 2000s and before). Another choice is to consider your specific moment in time, and choose recent events. (At the point in time that this learning module is being written (fall 2017), nearly a dozen hurricanes and other disasters have affected the U.S. and neighboring countries in the last two months – wildfires in California, earthquake in Mexico, multiple Atlantic Hurricanes, mass shooting in Las Vegas, etc..)

Some examples of well-covered (in the media) disasters:

  • The Bhopal Disaster (1984)
  • Hurricane Andrew (1992)
  • Columbine Highschool shooting (1999)
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005)
  • The “Great (housing) Crash” (2008)
  • Haiti Earthquake (2010)
  • The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010)
  • Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011)
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire (2012)

Students should gather a set number of sources to determine the following:

  • What was this disaster?
  • Was this disaster natural or man-made? Is it fair to make that distinction in this case?
  • How do you think that social capital of the affected communities influenced their experience with the disaster?
  • How is the issue of “trust” discussed in the context of this disaster?
  • How is media coverage of this disaster more or less culturally competent? (Give examples.)
  • What do scholarly sources say about the cultural competence of the relief and recovery efforts from these disasters?
  • Is there a link to “development” that can be identified in the case of this disaster? (Why or why not?

Students should choose a few disasters to compare, and then begin to evaluate why or why not the experience of and recovery from the disasters is differentially culturally competent. The “cultural competence” can extend beyond straightforward reports of the disaster to the media coverage of the disaster, as the ethical issues of disaster “work” are also connected to the ethical issues of covering disasters in the media.

GRADING RUBRIC:This assignment can be graded in a number of ways. I suggest leveraging 20% of their grade on Part 1 (the responses to the Nakagawa and Shaw article), and the rest of their grade on the quality of their comparisons between the disasters they have been either assigned or chosen to investigate re: evaluating the cultural competence of disaster recovery projects and/or media coverage. An especially successful assignment will tie the concepts from Part 1 of the assignment into the analytical pieces of Part 2.