Faculty Mentor

Jeffrey Templeton




Educating communities about geologic hazards saves lives while also reducing the fear and stress of living in hazardous areas and is an important tool within hazard mitigation frameworks. This study focuses on ways that local communities educate the populace about hazards that may impact their lives. By concentrating on two case studies representing different locales, one of the goals of this project is to compare educational strategies and gauge public perception of geologic hazards facing the community. One case study focuses on the towns that surround Merapi Volcano in Indonesia, while the other focuses on tsunami and earthquake preparedness in Seaside, Oregon.

According to studies conducted around Merapi Volcano, many school children in the region have directly experienced hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. However, when asked questions about what to do in certain situations involving hazards, many students showed confusion and uncertainty. The information that they were taught on geologic hazards was surficial, because the teachers had only been provided with minimal training on the subject. Feedback from both the students and teachers about the teaching and training they are receiving shows that the curriculum is somewhat effective, but there is still room for improvement. Teacher training programs should be guided by the most up-to-date scientific knowledge through coursework at universities and workshops led by professional organizations. While content about geologic hazards can be embedded throughout the curriculum and be taught as a recurring theme through a student’s grade school journey, there should also be focused content delivery taught specifically by science teachers in the school.

The second case study focused on strategies for educating a variety of different demographics in Oregon coastal communities about earthquake and tsunami preparation. This study showed that there are many different approaches towards promoting hazard awareness, and factors such as age, language, educational level, and disabilities should be taken into consideration. The emphasis in many coastal communities in Oregon is on educating residents through community meetings. However, there is a lack of focus on educating tourists in the coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest. If a geological hazard occurs, tourists need to know where to go and simple signs directing towards safe zones would increase the hazard preparedness. Along with signs, coastal communities can deploy warning systems that notify people about an impending hazard and provide evacuation information. More widespread use of these types of education strategies and warning systems would be beneficial towards the safety of everyone in coastal areas.

While many communities are being educated about the dangers that they could face from natural disaster events, the methods by which they are being informed can only prepare them to a certain extent. Geologic hazards are natural events that will always present risks for human communities, so it is best that we normalize conversations about these hazards so that when they do occur, fear does not overcome the training and preparation that can save lives.




Earth/Physical Science


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