Responsible Engineering, Science, and Technology for Disaster Risk Management

Join Co-Risk Labs for a four-month investigation into the societal and ethical concerns of the role of science and technology in the field of disaster and climate risk management. Our team is working to examine the relationships between experts and communities, and how these relationships contribute to societal resilience. As professionals working to utilize the insights of science and engineering to build safe and sustainable societies, we need to look closely at how our work intersects, upholds, or dismantles some of the root causes of vulnerability in today’s world.

What responsibilities do designers, engineers, scientists, and technology experts working on disaster and climate risk have to the public? How do we translate technical knowledge into meaningful social and political change? How do we ensure we are using our expertise in ethical and accountable ways? 

Building on our past work on similar themes, we are convening a group of practitioners for an interdisciplinary experiment aimed at reconfiguring the relationship between technical expertise and societal resilience. As a collective, participants will experiment with tactics aimed at improving the engagement of experts like scientists, engineers, software developers, remote sensing experts with the vital politics of creating safe and resilient societies. 

This is an opportunity to collaborate with experts in your field on some of the most important questions we face. You’ll gain:

  • Deep insights into these questions that come from collective and extended investigation over the course of the project
  • An expanded network of amazing people who care about these issues as much as you do
  • Skills and knowledge to help you bring your values and social concerns into your daily work 
  • Experience and support toward applying these practices in the workplace 

How it Works

This project will launch at a 3-day in-person workshop in Singapore in May 2020, immediately following the Understanding Risk Forum. Travel support will be available for some participants. 

For the following four months, through September 2020, participants will collaborate remotely through regular check-in calls, webinar presentations from a range of experts, and other activities. As a collective, we will aim to develop and experiment with practical knowledge, skills and practices that can be used to design, evaluate, and improve technical work in our field. Participants will be encouraged to implement these experiments within their own technical work and daily practice.

The initial cohort will consist of 10-15 technical experts and practitioners from a range of disciplines. Each of whom will have expertise in their respective fields and be working actively on at least one of the following disciplines: disaster risk management, climate change adaptation, environmental planning, or humanitarian aid. 

Activities and Topics Covered

The complete schedule is still under development but will include topics such as:

  • The history of disaster and climate science
  • How our field connects to capitalism, colonialism, and racial injustice 
  • Technical expertise as one form of knowledge amongst many
  • Participatory, speculative, and value-oriented design practices
  • Learning from the arts and humanities
  • Practical tactics for improving the design and evaluation of our projects

Activities during a given week will vary by participant but may include:

  • Reading and discussion of relevant academic and popular writing
  • Providing informal peer-review to other participants’ projects
  • Journaling or other forms of reflexive writing practice
  • Creativity and reflection exercises drawn from the arts or design 
  • Small-group discussions on focused topics that arise during the process

Eligibility, Commitment, and Costs

We are looking to recruit practitioners with backgrounds in science, engineering, technology, or design who have Master’s degrees, or equivalent experience, and active projects in a relevant field. Individuals from backgrounds and geographies underrepresented in the field of disaster and climate science will be given special consideration. 

Aside from the initial 3-day workshop, participants should anticipate spending 3-4 hours per week completing assigned activities or readings and periodic calls with other individuals working in your field and in your time zone.

The only costs for participation are travel and lodging for the initial in-person workshop in Singapore. There is limited scholarship funding available to support eligible participants.

How to Apply

Participation will be limited to facilitate a productive and valuable experience. To apply, complete this form by February 7, 2020: 

Accepted participants will be notified on February 14, 2020.

Organizing Team 

Co-Risk Labs is a small worker-owned cooperative that is improving the practice of disaster and climate risk management through critical and participatory design tactics, scientific and engineering excellence, and engagement with the arts. This activity builds upon successful past projects in the field of disaster risk management around art/science collaboration and inter-disciplinary innovation Read more about us here: