The Impact of Disease and Disaster

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
08 June 2020


Requisites for this module
GV421, GV422


GV421, GV422

Key module for


Module description

The module will explore how disease and disaster affect society and the state, and how states and societies can respond and be resilient. We will look at the economic, social, psychological and political implications and responses to disease and disaster from an inter-disciplinary perspective.

We also examine how states build capacity, and the importance of state -societal, and interpersonal trust. In doing so, we also look at the changing definitions of human security.

Module aims

1.To develop students knowledge and understanding of the conceptual and methodological issues associated with the study of disease and disaster
2.To provide the opportunity for students to learn about existing research on disease and disaster, and offer an overview of the key concepts along with an introduction to competing theories on human security and state capacity
3.To develop and promote students’ general analytical skills and capacities to undertake subsequent academic study and for employment, personal development and participation.
4.To maintain an intellectual environment that is exciting and challenging, fostering students' capacities for study and dialogue and maintaining high standards of teaching and learning.
5. To enhance students’ skills in teamwork, technical skills, research techniques, critical thinking and writing.

More specifically, the course aims to help students:
To understand the impact of disease and disaster on the state and society
To be knowledgeable about diseases and disasters
To understand the interrelation of diseases, disasters and human security
To understand the effects of diseases on political and economic stability
To understand the role of international actors in cooperation on fighting diseases and disasters.
To understand the implications of disease and disaster on mental health.
To contrast the experience of different regimes, states, economies and societies and dealing with disasters.
To understand how to be resilient in the wake of a crisis at a societal and psychological level.
To understand the impact of globalization on disease and disaster

Module learning outcomes

1. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the historical and current state of diseases and disasters and the implications of disease and disaster on the state, society, economy and mental health
2. To demonstrate an in depth understanding of how to define and measure human security
3. To demonstrate an ability to understand how to define and measure disease and disasters and how to gather research on this topic.
4. To develop knowledge of what we mean by economic growth, economic crisis and economic inequality and how to measure these concepts
5. To understand and analyse the intersection between state efficiency, state society relations and disease and disaster management
6. To evaluate both orally and in writing the intersection of the environment, globalization and disease and disaster

Module information

Week 2: Human Security
What do we mean by human security?
This week is mostly an introductory week, but the seminar will explore the changing conceptions of security and what role disease and disaster play in security frameworks.

Week 3: Infectious diseases
What are the big diseases that threaten humanity? What are the ways in infectious diseases stretch the state? This week provides a summary of the various human diseases that undermine development in countries, with particular focus on AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, known as the big three. Neglected tropical diseases will also be explored as will water washed, water borne and water based diseases. This week investigates the effects of epidemic health crises on development and the state. Other viral infectious diseases such as COVID-19, SARS and Ebola also introduced.

Week 4: Natural disasters and adverse environments
The seminar explains the major environmental issues that states face, such as extreme weather patterns, poor soil quality, unpredictable rainfall, adverse terrain, natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, and fires) and resource abundance or scarcity. This week explores the effects of these environmental challenges on development and the state.

Week 5: Global contributors to disease and disaster
This week examines the global contributors to disease and disaster such as climate change and looks more specifically at the challenges posed by increased movement of people. Overall this week provides an overview of the exigencies brought about by globalization to open markets, goods and services, leaving countries more vulnerable to disease and disaster.
Impact of Disease and Natural Disaster

Week 6: Economic impact of disease and disasters, Part I.
This week explores the global economic and macro-economic consequences of diseases and disaster, with a special focus on the impact of COVID-19. This week will look at how it impacts growing inequalities and poverty.

Week 7: Economic impact of disease and disasters, Part II
This week explores how disease and disaster affect local economies and businesses, with a special focus on COVID-19.

Week 8: Societal impact of disease and disasters
This week examines how societies are impacted by disaster in disease, including looking at how it may impact state-society relations, interpersonal trust, crime, domestic violence and civil society. COVID-19 will be specifically looked at.

Week 9: Psychological impacts of disease and disaster
This week explores the trauma and mental health concerns during and in the aftermath of disease and disaster. The week's discussion focuses on the challenges faced by the public on a personal level, from grief, to loss of work or loss of one's home, to disruptions in access to health care and medications for chronic conditions and uncertainty regarding employment and school for one's children.

Week 10: Political impact of disease and disaster
This week examines the political impact of disease and disaster. In what instances do politicians, regimes and governments fall apart? In what conditions is democracy strengthened? Why is it common that crises lead to democratic backsliding? The seminar goes over the political implications of crises and what typical patterns emerge?

Week 11: Reading week and assignments due (take home test and paper due)

Learning and teaching methods

1 hour pre-recorded lecture and a 50 minute online seminar per week. Students will be given prepared content ahead of time in the style of a flipped classroom so that they are able to use the seminar/class to discuss key concepts in depth. This gives students more flexibility with how they want to consume information provided by the lecture and gives them a chance to follow up with discussions. The teaching is designed to help students gain breadth and more in depth understanding of the intersection of disease, disaster, the state, and society.



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   PowerPoint Presentation    20% 
Coursework   Blog    45% 
Coursework   Take Home Essay Test    35% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Natasha Lindstaedt, email: nezrow@essex.ac.uk.
Professor Natasha Lindstaedt
Natasha Lindstaedt nezrow@essex.ac.uk Nicola Rowley govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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