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In this IHRR podcast, Prof Lena Dominelli introduces the role of social work in disaster intervention using the example of  recovery efforts during the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in Sri Lanka.  Prof Dominelli is a lead researcher on Project Sri Lanka at Durham University and an Associate Director of IHRR.  As both a sociologist and social worker, her research has been published widely.  Her latest book, Green Social Work, looks at environmental issues from a social work perspective.


Transcription of podcast:

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Terry McClure, who is studying for an MA in Risk, Health and Public Policy, explains how some insurance companies are using computer modelling and information about people’s lifestyle choices found on the internet to evaluate health-related risks.  This could largely affect whether some people are able to receive life insurance coverage in the future.  This form of ‘predictive modelling’ could also disproportionately affect poor people who may be perceived as a riskier clientele and denied coverage.

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Further Reading

Insurers Test Data Profiles to Identify Risky Clients. Wall Street Journal

Life insurance: Life in the fast lane. The Actuary

This podcast from ROBUST features Dr Karen Johnson, one of the leaders of the project.  In this instalment, Karen introduces different aspects of the project including how to remediate brownfield land using recycled minerals known as manganese oxides left from the water treatment industry and other sources.


This is part three of the ROBUST podcast series.  Parts one and two are available here.

As some readers of this blog are aware, IHRR’s ROBUST project is researching how to use sustainable technologies to regenerate brownfield land contaminated with industrial wastes.  This is the second part of the ROBUST podcast series presented by Dr Steve Robertson, a researcher at Durham University and Research Associate on ROBUST.  For those interested in how different kinds of brownfield sites can be regenerated, perhaps in your own community, have a listen to Steve’s introduction on how sites are chosen for redevelopment.


Here is the latest podcast from IHRR’s Tipping Points project about the term itself, ‘tipping point’.  Bringing together a range of different researchers from the project based in the physical and social sciences as well as the humanities, this slightly experimental podcast explores some popular ideas about tipping points, but also lesser known ones as well, such as the first use of the term and how it evolved over time.


Music by Spectral Mystics available from the Free Music Archive.

Rebirth (Spectral Mystics) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

We were delighted to have Prof Paul Slovic give a seminar in IHRR as well as a public lecture at Durham University.  Below is an audio recording of Paul’s seminar ‘The Feeling of Risk: New Directions in Risk Perception’.  A video of Paul’s public lecture will be available on IHRR’s website and posted on this blog in the near future.

For those who are unfamiliar with Paul Slovic’s research, this seminar gives a good introduction to his work in human judgment and how people perceive risk.


In this podcast from Tipping Points, Financial Crisis in the Banking Centre: Past and Present, I spoke with Prof Ranald Michie and Dr Folarin Akinbami about the effects of laws on banking in the US and UK.

The repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act in the US in particular has resulted in large controversy amongst economists and other financial researchers.  Does the separation of commercial from investment banking help prevent financial crises from occurring?  Interestingly, the Glass–Steagall Act was passed in the US during the Great Depression in response to bankers engaging in risky financial behaviour with depositers’ money, it was repealed not long before the recent financial crisis.  But this doesn’t seem to have any direct connection with banking in the UK, although the influence of legislation in England cannot be denied as it allowed  London to become one of the financial centres of the world.  The bigger question is what short and long-term effects does government legislation have on banking and can it provoke or prevent a crisis? Read more

In the third instalment of the Risk Masters podcast series, Anna Coles, who is studying for an MSc in Risk and Environmental Hazards, gives a close look at the politics of earthquake disaster management in the Kashmir Valley.  Managing earthquake hazards is about understanding where they are likely to strike next and assessing the potential damage they could cause, but it’s also about neighboring countries sharing data about crucial faults in order to prepare for future quakes and potentially save many lives.


The UK is not unfamiliar with flood hazards.  Over the weekend flooding occurred in parts of North Yorkshire and gale force winds tipped over a lorry on the A66 and another on the A171 near Whitby.  Fortunately, no serious injuries have been reported, but the flooding did leave two people stranded until they were rescued by fire fighters.  From the Darlington and Stockton Times: Read more

In the first year of the Risk Masters course in Durham University’s Department of Geography and IHRR, students produced podcasts on a topic of their choice from new research in physical hazards to insurance, risk, terror and security.  In this podcast Tom Killalea, a student on the Risk Masters course, introduces a unique project to exchange earthquake risk information worldwide, known as the ‘Global Earthquake Model.’  Projects like GEM could potentially have a large role to play in how countries prepare for earthquakes and their secondary hazards.



Global Earthquake Model Website:

MSc/MA Programmes in Risk at Durham University:

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