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EDUCEN Report Summary

Project ID: 653874
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.7.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EDUCEN (European Disasters in Urban centres: a Culture Expert Network (3C – Cities, Cultures, Catastrophes))

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-04-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Cultural diversity can be a hindrance but also a help in disaster risk reduction. Cultural differences between social identity groups, organisations, countries can bring misunderstandings and frustration, but cultural memory, networks and skills can save lives when every second counts.

EDUCEN is a network of 11 organisations and 7 disaster-prone European cities and regions all set to exchange experiences with disaster and culture and to learn from each other. The consortium involves public-private-NGO as well as civil-military cooperation. Military engineers in our consortium request access to an expert networks for understanding social issues complicating or facilitating their work in disaster response.

The structure combines:

- horizontal exchange between the 7 cities (Dordrecht, Istanbul, L’Aquila, Lorca, Milan, Umbria, Volos) and transversal themes with a ‘vertical’, task-oriented WP structure
- outside-in supply of information and facilitation from the WPS and inside-out exchange of experiences, stories and lessons learned from the cities.

The city partners organise activities with their network, relate their findings and mobilise the WPs for support. Several grapple with communication with harder-to-reach groups: e.g. physically handicapped people, migrants, the young. WP partners support their outreach to such target groups. This highly interactive approach is the core of the ‘EDUCEN method’.

How did we go about it?
We are developing a toolbox to support the participating cities. Rather than descend on a city as a consortium, we support the city’s key contact as they request. New tools are being tried, tested and refined:

- ‘Serious games’ to enhance cultural empathy, designed by our Polish partner. The first game, an evacuation game involving people with physical, cultural and language challenges, has been piloted and replicated at two Dutch universities. Another game was developed and tested in Lorca, and may well be replicated in Dordrecht.

- Social Network Analysis, to understand the formal and informal “soft infrastructure” that springs into life in a crisis. In L’Aquila, still reeling from the 2009 earthquake, good progress is being made with developing this analysis.

- Communication and outreach tools: In locations where disaster does not happen regularly, people’s awareness can be deficient. Museum exhibitions can help jog people’s memory through an exhibition on disaster – earthquake in Volos, flooding in Dordrecht. Disaster educational tools are designed for people with physical challenges in Istanbul.

What will we deliver?
The ultimate deliverable of the project is a multi-media toolbox, an expanded e-handbook to help planners and responders deal with culture. At the start of the project, a State of the Art document was prepared outlining the most relevant themes, definitions, literature and debates. It was decided to modularise these topics, so that subsequent learnings and experiences in the cities can be added piecemeal in the form of stories and analyses, but also infographics, videos, cartoons, blogs and other materials. Preliminary outlines were devised for the final product and the city manuals, which in turn form the basis for the final document.

Internal learning
To make sure we learn from each other, multiple learning loops are followed: from the ‘field’ to the consortium, between the consortium partners and from the consortium to those interested outside it. Cities share their experiences in monthly inter-city Skype calls. This ‘thick description’ appears to work better than a survey. North and South Europe have quite different styles of planning and communication. This proved no different in the present project.
The WPs have now also held a coordinating Skype meeting. Other than that there are traditional consortium calls every couple of months. All meetings are open to all members.

Spreading the word
A fully functional EDUCEN web site and

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Here’s a brief summary by Work Package, with the lead partner put between brackets

WP1: Coordination and Management (WU)
In the first 12 months of the project, the coordination team has been keeping track of the work packages, ensuring their cohesion and integration. A well-attended public Kick-off meeting was organized to give the project a swift start. Considerable effort was put in the production of numerous procedural deliverables, including the development of ethics protocols. WU kept track of the Grant Agreement and the financial and administrative management of the project, including the additional tasks resulting from the ethics scan. Beneficiaries were supported on financial and procedural issues, as well as on substantive matters. The management team has maintained contact with the External Advisory Board and linked up to other relevant parties and initiatives. Additionally, WU has worked on the development of structures for reflection and documentation and the first index for the Handbook on Culture and DRR.

WP2: Culture and Memory (NLDA)
WP2 laid the conceptual groundwork for the project. An extensive literature review on the State of the Art on culture, disaster management and cities has been carried out and a ‘’guiding questions manual’’ has been developed to introduce the city cases to the most important topics relating to culture and disaster management. WP2 conducted in-depth analysis of case histories to understand how history shapes current attitudes to and perceptions of disaster management. Methods are developed on how to identify different forms of cultural memory and on how to use cultural memory as a positive force to provide input into current disaster risk management. The results of this study will be presented in a case histories report.

WP3: Cultural and Social Networks (CNR-IRSA)
WP3 seeks to understand formal and informal socio-cultural and institutional networks during the different phases of the DRR. First, deep literature review on social capital and DRR was carried out, also to identify the most suitable methods to be implemented in the pilot cities to better comprehend the complexity of the networks of interaction taking place during an emergency. We supported two participant cities, L’Aquila and Lorca, in implementing the Social Network Analysis in order to map and investigate the network of interactions. The analysis allowed local decision makers to identify the main weakness of the network of interactions among the institutional actors and between the official responders and the local community.

WP4: Cultural Learning (SEI)
The WP on Cultural Learning has contributed to clarifying the role of culture in DRR. The work package has built on existing research to explain what culture means in the context of learning processes in DRR.
The first of the project's two consortium learning workshops was organised in March 2016. This first workshop had the key aim of generating improved understanding of the role of culture and disaster risk reduction. The specific aim was to bring together practitioners and researchers linked to the case sites in EDUCEN (both internal and external participants) to share experiences and deliberate on some of the emerging insights and findings based on work in case sites. The work was designed to contribute directly to the EDUCEN learning loops organised and facilitated by ICATALIST as part of WP7.

WP5: City Cultures and Infrastructure (POLIMI)
The culture of a city is a result of interaction between the hard and soft infrastructure in and around disasters which makes cities vulnerable or resilient in different ways. WP5 works with the cities involved in the project as beneficiaries, stakeholders and end-users to make sure that the core aspects of such interaction emerge and are analysed. We have started with a broad literature study, including the definition of the city and culture, in close collaboration with WP3. In the Milan session both univ

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

We expect EDUCEN to reap notable social impact in and beyond its case study cities. Through our ‘learning loops’ contributions to understanding culture and disaster in our pilot cities will have knock-on effects in other cities and institutions we are actively liaising with. We expect greater (durable) awareness to save lives and assets in future disaster events.

Our project will produce locally relevant support materials at a city level, and precipitate and facilitate the formation of living networks of experts on cultures in disasters encompassing community members and practitioners (Communities of Practice-CoP). It will produce a multi-media handbook intended for a wider audience. Because of a continuous conceptual and practical engagement with disaster and culture, EDUCEN will make visible both the positive and negative impacts of cultural diversity.

The project expects to fully achieve the impacts described in Section 2.1 of the DoA, so there is no need to update this section. The majority of the anticipated impacts will materialise in the second reporting period (e.g. through the seven local manuals and Handbook).

Rather than the envisaged exhibition in the pilot cities we decided to undertake other dissemination and training activities identified as particularly relevant. For example,
- a specific workshop on the role of communication media for disseminating info during a disaster episode also considering cultural elements is planned for October 2016 in Murcia.
- unforeseen association led to EDUCEN working with them for the development of a new card game for teenagers which is going to raise disaster awareness based on history of past disasters in Volos.
- A Turkish-language Facebook group for people with physical challenges sprang up inspired by (but not instigated by) EDUCEN’s Turkish partner AKUT.

The direct involvement of local beneficiaries in such EDUCEN activities, such as workshops and games support local disaster preparation and response. The analysis of the differences in information management processes between the institutional system and the community are contributing to reduce the current gaps, facilitating the communication in case of disaster. Work has already been done to tackle one of the most important barriers that could hamper the achievement of the EDUCEN impacts (...) related to the mutual scepticism between local communities and authorities. This is particularly true during preparedness phase. Through the ongoing activities in the case study sites we are supporting to improve commitment within local communities of practice.

EDUCEN contributed to the foreseen impact of developing procedures to document active and latent knowledge of practitioners and communities in relation to culture in disasters through for example the L’Aquila and Lorca studies and their mapping of the flow of information in disasters. Meanwhile the analysis of the network in L’Aquila (Task 3.1) has contributed to better understanding the complexity of the formal and informal interceptions taking place during the different phases of Disaster Risk Reduction.

A survey the existing knowledge, practices and tools related to culture in DRR through a global review of both scientific and grey literature, use this to inform our practice and directly report the results of this survey. This State of the Art is now online and fully open access, with a series of more ready-for-use used Guiding Questions.

Materials are available online in some local languages as well as English to ensure a wide audience is reached.

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