Transformative Learning: Addressing vulnerability by challenging what you think you know!

Disaster adaptation and resilience require learning that is flexible and able to adapt to complex disaster risks. However there is a value action gap between intentions and behaviour, which need to be addressed. Transformative Learning (TL) has the potential to address this through instigating changes in behaviour that are maintained over time by challenging automatic responses and learning to take a more critically reflective approach to solving ‘wicked problems’, including disasters.

Discussion of how a visual framework model was developed to address understanding of what TL is and what it means to undertake it will be outlined. Furthermore, its use as an analytical tool for understanding processes and outcomes from Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) training among the general public in Santa Barbara, California as part of PhD fieldwork will be undertaken. Finally, the talk will give examples in order to explore the following questions to trigger further discussion while encouraging the audience to engage with the models that will be shown:

1. How might TL be utilised as a learning tool for challenging prior cognition towards disaster risk?
2. How does TL open up paths for exploring wider issues around vulnerability? (To include individual, group, community, organisational and governmental)
3. What is the role played by social learning in unpacking critical reflection that might lead to desired conscientisation?

Justin Sharpe is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, King’s College London and a member of the Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience. His PhD research is examining the effect of transformative learning on the long-term cognition and behaviour of individuals towards the disaster risk.

As a teacher of Geography for 15 years, he has developed curriculum materials that use a range of pedagogies to enable students to access disaster curriculum effectively while allowing them to take responsibility for their own safety and preparedness.

The use of multi-media techniques in teaching, learning and sharing of knowledge is used to engage and motivate students in the process of disaster preparation. In 2008 Justin set up for educators involved with Disaster Risk Reduction Education (DRRE), which has over 320 members. The continued aim is to share good practice and provide resources and ideas for professionals. New learning resources have included videos, exercises and the creation of a DRR comic strip for use with younger learners.