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ATS3626: Global disasters: Catastrophe and social change

Faculty of Arts

Global disasters: Catastrophe and social change

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This unit examines the social history and impact of disasters from the late nineteenth century to recent times. Case studies include environmental and industrial disasters, pandemics, famines, and climate change events. We examine the processes that make disasters 'global', like travel and communications technologies and environmental systems. Using films, photographs, media reports and autobiographical sources, we examine the representation and experience of disasters to learn how they have been understood, experienced and responded to in contested ways. In doing so, we analyse the social causes of 'natural' and 'unnatural' disasters; how catastrophes have been catalysts for social change; and how disasters stimulate utopian and dystopian ideas about the globe's future.


1 - Research proposal - 20% 2 - Essay - 30% 3 - Essay - 40% 4 - Participation - 10%


Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

Global challenges

Our Strategic Plan, Impact 2030, charts the path for how Monash will actively respond to climate change, preserving geopolitical security and fostering thriving communities over the next decade. Read more

This unit covers content related to the following Global Challenges:

Climate Change

Sustainable development goals

Adopted by the UN Member States in 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. Read more

This unit covers content related to the following SDGs:

1. No Poverty 2. Zero Hunger 6. Clean Water and Sanitation 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 13. Climate Action 16. Peace Justice and Strong Institutions