Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Professor’s new book addresses human side of disaster

book coverWhether it is ongoing war or recent natural disasters, there is no shortage of calamity in the world.

Thomas Drabek, DU’s John Evans professor and professor emeritus in the Department of Sociology and Criminology, has explored how humans react to all kinds of disaster in his new book The Human Side of Disaster (CRC Press, 2010).

The book explores how people’s responses can be predicted and what the long-term effects are on peoples’ psyche.

“I spent four decades in the field interviewing people caught in disaster,” Drabek says. “While each experience is unique, we can learn so much from how people react in order to better prepare and respond to future disasters.”

Drabek (BA ’61) begins the book with four gripping stories. He then brings in his research to show how warning methods and high-tech systems can work together to improve communications, evacuations and reconstruction efforts.

“This book is the culmination of a career-long quest to translate decades of research findings to students, emergency management professionals and the general population,” says Gary Kreps, vice provost and professor of sociology at the College of William and Mary (recently retired). “He has succeeded with a style of writing that is personal, non-technical and highly informative.”

Drabek taught at DU from 1965–2004. He continues to research and write on a part-time basis.

He returned to the classroom at DU to offer his course, Community Response to Natural Disaster, in 2007 and 2008. He will do so again during spring 2011. 

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