Natural Hazards

, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 969–988 | Cite as

Forging a paradigm shift in disaster science

  • A. T. Ismail-ZadehEmail author
  • S. L. Cutter
  • K. Takeuchi
  • D. Paton
Original Paper


Despite major advancements in knowledge on disaster risks and disasters caused by natural hazards, the number and severity of disasters are increasing. Convolving natural, engineering, social and behavioral sciences and practices with policymaking should significantly reduce disaster risks caused by natural hazards. To this end, a fundamental change in scientific approaches to disaster risk reduction is needed by shifting the current emphasis on individual hazard and risk assessment dominant in the geoscientific community to a transdisciplinary system analysis with action-oriented research on disaster risk reduction co-produced with multiple stakeholders, including policymakers. This paradigm shift will allow for acquisition of policy-relevant knowledge and its immediate application to evidence-based policy and decision making for disaster risk reduction. The need for the paradigm shift is more critical now than ever before because of the increasing vulnerability and exposure of society to disaster risk and the need for cross-cutting actions in policy and practice related to climate change and sustainability.


Natural hazards Risk assessment Disaster science Transdisciplinary Co-productive research 



This research was benefited from interactions, discussions and/or collaboration with many scientists, engineers and policymakers on the topics related to disaster science. Particularly, we are grateful to Irasema Alcántara-Ayala, Dan Baker, Tom Beer, Salvano Briceño, Harsh Gupta, Ailsa Holloway, David Johnston, Gordon McBean and Reiner Silbereisen for fruitful discussions on disaster risk research and risk reduction. We are thankful to Marcia McNutt, Vladimir Schenk, Brad Wible and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the initial manuscript, which helped to revise and significantly improve the paper. AIZ was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG Grant IS-203/4-1) and the Russian Science Foundation (RSF Grant 14-17-00520).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. T. Ismail-Zadeh
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • S. L. Cutter
    • 3
  • K. Takeuchi
    • 4
  • D. Paton
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Applied GeosciencesKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical GeophysicsRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Department of Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability Research InstituteUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management Under the Auspices of UNESCO, Public Works Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  5. 5.School of Psychology and Clinical SciencesCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia

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