Similarities and Differences in the Refugee Situations of 2022 and 2015/16 – Some Situational Observations and Theses from the Perspective of Social Science Disaster Research

By: Cordula Dittmer und Daniel F. Lorenz

Original German version last updated on 05.03.2022, 11:00 am

Translated version published 15.07.2024

Refugee arrival, Berlin Central Station (© Daniel F. Lorenz)

Since the summer of 2015, we at the DRU focused on the KatFlucht project, and from October 2018 onwards, on the WAKE  project to examine the management of the refugee situation in 2015/16 by German and European civil protection and disaster relief agencies. It was unforeseeable that less than seven years later we would again be facing massive refugee movements in Europe. References to the end of World War II or to 2015/16 are being made in (social) media. The UNHCR  speaks of a rare exodus, as nearly a million people had to flee within a week. Our analysis focuses on the management of the situation by state and non-state actors, especially civil protection and disaster relief agencies: We are currently observing both very similar and quite different forms of management than in 2015/16.

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The Disaster Research Journals List 2023

By Vicente Sandoval

In this initial post, we are excited to introduce you to The Disaster Research Journals List 2023, an extension that has evolved from the foundational Disaster Research Journals (DRJ) Database. With utmost care, we have curated the DRJ List, which comprises a collection of esteemed journals dedicated to the field of disaster research and science. Our primary aim is to offer a potential resource for scholars, practitioners, and students navigating the complex and evolving landscape of disaster research literature.

While still in its nascent stages, the DRJ List and Database aim to offer assistance to researchers, professionals, and policymakers seeking relevant publication avenues and consolidated sources of information in this field. Furthermore, they may serve as tools to track emerging trends and witness the evolution of the field, a process that has gained significant momentum over the past few decades, as highlighted by Alexander et al. in 2021. This resource represents not only a compilation of journals but also an embodiment of our commitment to furthering the discourse of disaster research. Your feedback and engagement will be invaluable as we navigate this exploratory journey together.

The DRJ List 2023 can be downloaded in the following links:

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ChatGPT (in disaster research)

By Vicente Sandoval

Screenshot from ChatGPT Start page. 3rd March 2023.

Many researchers are concerned these days regarding the potentials and risks of using Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially language models, in research. Then, I asked ChatGPT “Create an opinion column about the potentials and risks of using ChatGPT in disaster research as if you were Vicente Sandoval”. Here is its opinion (my own reflections at the end):

As a language model, I believe that the use of ChatGPT in disaster research could have both significant potentials and risks. On the one hand, ChatGPT’s ability to understand and process language could help researchers to quickly analyze and make sense of large amounts of data related to disaster events. This could be especially useful in situations where time is of the essence, such as in the aftermath of a disaster*, when decision-makers need to act quickly to save lives and minimize damage.

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Welcome to the blog!

Hi, everyone! Welcome to the first blog post of the disaster research blog by the Disaster Research Unit (DRU) at Freie Universität Berlin.

The DRU of the Freie Universität Berlin is a socioscientific research institution specialising in interdisciplinary research into disasters. The DRU’s body of work encompasses the entire “disaster cycle”: from its inception, its progression, into its after-math and the associated reconstruction and coping. This research topically breaks down into risk perception, risk reduction, disaster prevention, preparation, warning and disaster behaviour, all the way to disaster coping and sustainable reconstruction for industrialised nations as well as the so-called “Global South”. In addition to this, the DRU engages in social scientific and humanities basic research alongside other applied research and consulting.

In this blog DRU researchers will provide insights in their work, present ongoing research and discuss current developments in the field of disasters and disaster research.

As the work of the DRU is concerned both with disasters in Germany as well as abroad and, thus, targets different audiences blog posts might be in German or in English.