Northern Institute presents

dont panic




‘Disaster-environment-climate risk reduction in a rapidly urbanising world’

Associate Professor Akhilesh Surjan (CDU)

Research and Theme Leader - Humanitarian Response & Disaster Management Studies

World is urbanizing rapidly while also experiencing plethora of challenges posed by natural hazards, environmental degradation and climate change. COVID-19 further illustrates how global mobility not only connects cities better but also exposes them to risks of unprecedented scales. United Nations estimated that by mid of this century, urban dwellers will constitute two-third of the global population. Cities, as clusters of population concentration, on a very small percentage of global land, brings both opportunities and challenges. This session will discuss how disaster-environment-climate risks will be influencing human settlements of our times. Without making risk reduction a top priority, UN’s 11th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable“ will remain a distant dream. 

About Aspro. Akhilesh Surjan
Associate Professor Surjan is proactively engaged with the issues of disaster-environment-climate risk reduction, global change and sustainability in the context of human settlements. He has served as a Lead Author of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also as Contributing Author of the United Nation’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. In addition to associating with esteemed universities, Dr. Surjan has also successfully worked with the United Nations, government and non-government organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, Dr. Surjan is Associate Editor of an International journal Progress in Disaster Science (Elsevier) and Series Editor of book series Disaster Resilience and Green Growth (Springer). He also served as Editor of Sustainability Science (Springer) during 2013-19. To get updates on contemporary issues and CDU’s initiatives, please like/follow our Humanitarian, Emergency and Disaster Management Studies at CDU Fcebook page. 

09 April 2020

10.30am (ACST)


‘Crisis and Complacency: Why the cycle must stop with Covid-19’

Miranda Booth (CDU)

Lecturer in Humanitarian, Emergency in Disaster Management Studies

PhD topic – Effective Foreign Military engagement in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief: Australia in the South Pacific

16 April 2020

10.30am (ACST)


'From cyclones to COVID-19: Disaster management from an Yolŋu perspective'

Dr Michaela Spencer - Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Indigenous Knowledge and Governance

Yasunori Hayashi, Lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges - Yolngu Studies

Gawura Wanambi, Senior Lecturer in Aboriginal Studies

Joy Bulkanhawuy, Senior Lecturer in Aboriginal Studies 

From cyclones to COVID-19: Disaster management from a Yolŋu perspective For a number of years, Yolŋu researchers in Arnhem Land and the Ground Up team at Charles Darwin University, have worked collaboratively on research projects associated with disaster resilience and emergency management. This presentation draws together two threads from this work – stories arising from previous disaster management events and stories of the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and its impacts in East Arnhem Land. We present accounts delivered by a number of senior Yolŋu CDU researchers and lecturers, noting differing ways that emergencies are enacted within biomedical and traditional practices, as well as new forms of collective organisation emerging around disaster response. Drawing on these accounts, we suggest that it is productive to recognise resilience within these communities as a collective achievement involving not only local indigenous people or emergency services, but which arises in appropriate forms of partnering and collaboration being fostered between the two.

23 April 2020

10.30am (ACST)




‘Death, disasters and Covid-19 – the hidden emergency for global health and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) sectors to confront’

Gerard Finnigan (Deakin University)

IKEA Foundation Humanitarian Leadership Scholar 

PhD topic – Preventing premature mortality from natural disasters

This seminar will present an analysis of critical challenges for the global health and DRR sectors to address to reduce the death toll and impact from natural hazard disasters, including CoVID19, in the face of unprecedented humanitarian demand. The discussion will centre on four central themes within the evidence based analysis. This includes the contrasting state between perceived verses underlying causative risk from natural hazard threats, such as CoVID19. Secondly, the impact of the misalignment of the ‘risk triangle’ between health, DRR and disaster management actors globally. Thirdly the discordant nature of the SFDRR global measurement framework with efforts to reduce deaths in FCV countries, and finally the critical flaw within the SFDRR measurement indicator on counting mortality and its implications for the world. The seminar will present innovative scenarios and realistic solutions for health and DRR sectors to develop and advance to overcome each specific issue and discuss the leadership required to deliver each solution. 

About Gerard Finnigan
As an epidemiologist Gerard has designed and implemented emergency, disaster and humanitarian health programmes in over 20 countries and led multi-disciplinary technical teams respond to complex humanitarian challenges in nations across Africa, south Asia and the Pacific. He is presently undertaking research on approaches to reduce global mortality from natural hazard disasters at the School of Medicine and School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Deakin University in Melbourne.

26 March 2020

10.30am (ACST)


Link to Recorded Session

‘Crisis Leadership from around the world: a brief reflection on Covid-19 Pandemic’

Dr Jonatan Lassa (CDU)

Senior Lecturer - Emergency & Disaster Management

PhD topic - Disaster Risk Governance 

Crisis leadership often deals with the questions of how public leaders act in time and how their decisions are made under uncertainty. In this seminar, Dr Lassa will provide his work in progress on the dramaturgical perspective on crisis leadership – an observation of crisis leadership in Asia Pacific, while highlighting some brief examples of leaderships displays during COVID-19 pandemic from various continents. He will also share his views on why global leaders failed to timely address the COVID-19 crisis and how can the leaders fix COVID-19. This talk will also highlight how crisis can be manufactured by (potential) leaders for various reasons including gaining approval ratings in the middle of the crisis. 

About Dr Jonatan Lassa
Dr. Jonatan A. Lassa is a Senior Lecturer in Humanitarian, Emergency and Disaster Management at Charles Darwin University (CDU) Australia. Prior to CDU, he served as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Non-traditional Security Studies, RSIS, NTU Singapore during 2014-2016. He completed his PhD at the University of Bonn while based at United Nations University in Bonn, Germany. He also completed his post-doctoral fellowship at Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA where he also received a grant to attend Harvard’s Executive Education on Crisis Leadership in 2011. He later received Willis Re Postdoctoral Research Fellow position at the Institute of Catastrophic and Risk Management (ICRM), Nanyang Technological University in 2011/2012. 

02 April 2020

10.30am- 11.30am (ACST)




Northern Institute uses Zoom for online meetings and seminars. You can join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android, it’s easy to navigate and it’s free. Just click on the URL - you do not have to register. We ask that once you connect to please turn off your video and mute your audio to avoid bandwidth or delay issues. Participants will have the opportunity to interact and ask experts questions at the end of each webcast.  

Any questions about connecting with Zoom can be directed to  

Note: Darwin, NT time zone is Australian Central Standard Time (ACST)

Northern Institute