SUP-607M: Community Recovery: Rebuilding Disaster Damaged Communities in Chile

Semester: January

Credit: 0.5

Faculty: Douglas Ahlers


Day Time Location
First Day 1/5
Meet Day HKS


This course presents disaster recovery theory and practices via a January practicum in Chile. Applies community development and disaster recovery skills in field-based team projects that assist the residents of the earthquake and tsunami damaged towns of Dichato, Perales, and Cobquecura, Chile. Students will work with the government of Chile and with local communities (the "clients") to help them recover from their 2010 8.8 magnitude earthquake and tsunami which damaged 370,000 homes. Students are assigned to teams of 4-7, and each team is assigned a project selected by the instructor and the client. The teams travel to Chile where they spend January Term developing project workplans, gathering data, performing analyses, creating presentations, and writing project work-outputs (client deliverables) that are professional quality written documents, plans, or reports. The goal of this course is to apply classroom learned skills in a real-world, high-stakes situation. The teams are largely self-organizing and self-directing. Part of the immersive learning experience is being "dropped" into a strange city with an enormous task and a short timeframe to complete the project. Student travel and modest accommodations in Chile will be provided. The course will be conducted in English with some translation services available when working in the field with government officials, community leaders, and residents, however, not all documents or conversations can be translated, so Spanish language skills are recommended in order to maximize the immersive learning experience.

A separate 1.0 credit Spring-Term course on disaster recovery will also be offered. Students can take either course independently or can enroll in both courses. Students taking both this January-Term course and the separate Spring-Term course will be able to use this January practicum as a jumping-off point for an even more in-depth Chile field-research project -- using the Spring-Term course to take the January-Term project one-step further.