Always and everywhere, disasters are political events. Each of the phases of disaster management—mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery—is subject to political causes and effects. In this course we attempt to explain variation throughout the world and across these phases, using the theories and methods of political science and economics. Our focus is not just the politics of disasters themselves but how disasters can serve as an analytical windows, allowing us to better view and appreciate some of the underlying incentives that always shape our politics and processes .

Throughout the semester we will illustrate these concepts by comparing cases. These stories provide us with a common narrative for analysis and hopefully force us to think carefully about the difficult choices facing policymakers and the powerful incentives that guide them as they navigate these choices, even in policymaking around disasters.