Prof. Rajib SHAW, Professor of Graduate School of Media and Governance of Keio University (Shonan Fujisawa Campus) in Tokyo of Japan visited The JC School of Public Health and Primary Care on 28 March 2019. Prof. SHAW, as an academic Visitor, was invited to host a seminar: “Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine Lunchtime Seminar Series - Civil Society and Disaster Risk Reduction: Some Reflections” which was well-attended by staff and students.
At the seminar, Prof. SHAW shared with the audience his views on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and the challenges faced by civil society organisations (CSOs). Beside the seminar, Prof. SHAW also shared the experience of his academic career and his view on DRR in an interview:
Q.1 Can you introduce yourself? How did you start your academic career?
I started off in the field of geosciences, such as chemical isotopes, and then went into the social sciences, in particular decision making from the grassroots to the policy level. At first, I was in the private sector working on overseas development projects, then at the United Nations in Asia, and finally settled down in academia—first in Kyoto University and then in Keio University. Currently, I am a professor of the Graduate School of Media and Governance in Keio University’s Shonan Fujisawa Campus where I also supervise Master’s and PhD students.
Q.2 Would you mind sharing with us your area of research and expertise?
In the area of disaster risk reduction, I focus on four main aspects. They are 1) urban resilience, particularly focusing on Asian cities where some of the most densely populated areas are, 2) how to include science-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) evidence into policymaking and governance, 3) climate change adaptation, especially on Asia’s assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and 4) risk communication for informal and formal education as well as raising DRR awareness.
Q.3 How do you think Public Health may contribute to your sector?
I think public health is very important to DRR, especially as it provides the linkage or entry points for people to engage with disasters. DRR, like environmental management (e.g. recycling), needs to become a daily responsibility for everyone. A healthy community is a resilient community; therefore people need to know how to adapt to climatological variables and to climate change. Natural hazards such as heatwaves and monsoons are examples where individuals, families, and communities all have their own responsibility and actions they can take to mitigate the risks. These include personal protective measures and effective risk communication for all.
Q.4 What would be your advice for the youth in career development in the 21st Century?
The advice I have for youths is to think beyond your comfort zone. The current complexities the world faces cannot be resolved by a single discipline—a multidisciplinary approach must be taken. It is also important to communicate, as a public health scientist, to the media and involve other areas to solve the issue(s), from engineers to economists and to urban planners. Of course, having a core area of expertise is important but it has to be applied in other areas to make it more valuable. With a broader mindset, ask yourself, how can you contribute?