Natural Versus Human-Made Disasters


Required Readings

James, R. K., & Gilliland, B. E. (2017). Crisis intervention strategies (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Chapter 17, “Disaster Response” (pp. 579-636)

Dombo, E. A., & Ahearn, F. L. (2017). The aftermath of humanitarian crises: A model for addressing social work interventions with individuals, groups, and communities. Illness, Crisis, & Loss, 25(2), 107–126.

Kemp, S. P., & Palinkas, L. A. (2015). Strengthening the social response to the human impacts of environmental change. Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative Working Paper. Retrieved from

Levy, B. S., & Patz, J. A. (2015). Climate change, human rights, and social justice. Annals of Global Health, 81(3), 310-322.

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010c). Crisis in the nation and the world: Natural and human-made disasters [Video file]. Retrieved from

Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 13 minutes.

Accessible player –Downloads–Download Video w/CCDownload AudioDownload Transcript

Episode 262 – Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason: Social Work Research on Global Environmental Change: Past, Present, and Future Directions. (2019, April 22). inSocialWork® Podcast Series. [Audio Podcast] Retrieved from

Hayhoe, K. (2018, November). The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: Talk about it [Video file]. Retrieved from

Discussion: Natural Versus Human-Made Disasters

Disasters, for the most part, occur without warning and can have devastating effects. Forces of nature and geological shifts in the earth’s inner core can instantaneously alter the lives of individuals and entire communities. When this happens, the cause of the event can be scientifically explained. Sometimes disasters are not natural events. Consider instances where human action caused the disaster. What if entire neighborhoods are destroyed by fire as a result of an individual intentionally starting a wildfire? What if an airplane crashes due to human error and kills hundreds of people? What if the lack of effective road and bridge maintenance leads to an unnoticed structural error, which later results in the collapse of a populated bridge in a busy city? At the same time, natural disasters can become more catastrophic due to human influences such as climate change, the manner in which communities build cities to withstand disaster, or social segregation causing greater impacts to some communities over others.

For this Discussion, think about similarities and differences in effects and interventions between natural and human-made disasters.

By Day 4

Post a brief comparison between natural and human-made disasters. Then, apply the ecosystem approach to explain how the various systems effect a disaster and how these systems influence intervention. Finally, explain what type of debriefing you would recommend to social service providers responding to disaster survivors.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the resources.