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Background

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) through the funding of the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) has approved to support the project proposal of Economics of the Middle East Research Group/CNMS/FB02 (Prof. Dr. Mohammad Reza Farzanegan) on “Socio-Economic, Cultural and Technical Aspects of Natural Disaster Management”. In 2020, the project was funded with 90,000 euros under the "Higher Education Dialogue with the Muslim World” program of the DAAD. For the years 2021/22, the funding was extended for another 200,000 euros.

The cooperating partners for the years 2021/22 in Iran are the University of Tehran (Faculty of Social Sciences & Faculty of Natural Resources) as well as the Road, Housing & Urban Development Research Center (BHRC) /Iranian Strong Motion Network (ISMN). The Islamic Azad University (Civil Engineering Department) was a cooperation partner in 2020. In Germany, a collaboration with the University of Freiburg (Faculty of Economics and Behavioral Sciences) and the University of Applied Sciences Cologne (Institute of Rescue Engineering and Civil Protection) has been established.

The NaDiMa-project engages lecturers, students and experts from Iran and Germany on various technical, social, cultural, and economic aspects of natural disaster management policies and methods and aims at detecting factors that can improve public support of disaster management policies implemented by governments. The innovative aspect of this project is that it is not limited to the economic context of natural disasters; it rather emphasizes and integrates the social and technical dimensions of natural disasters.

The different issues of natural disaster management are being addressed in teaching events in form of workshops. These binational events, called “NaDiMa Dialogues”, aim at building students’ and researchers’ capacities as well as fostering cross-cultural learning and understanding.

Seven successful workshops have already been held in 2020 on different aspects of natural disaster management, with a specific focus on practical application and policy consultation. In the current year 2021, the NaDiMa Dialogues have focused on the teaching of econometric methods in the context of natural disaster management. Future online events concerning the socio-economic, cultural and technical aspects of natural disaster management will follow in the ongoing year 2021 and in 2022.

The workshops were organized digitally due to the ongoing travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Through this digitalization process, the project was able to improve teaching and curricula, especially under the aspect of innovative online teaching. Public access to our events was eased and a larger number of students and young scientists from both countries were reached and trained on the topic of natural disaster management.

An important component of the NaDiMa project is the explicit emphasis on intercultural dialogue by including practitioners in Iran and Germany in addition to our academic partners. Such practitioners are directly involved in policy work or intervention, be it in governmental or non-governmental organizations. This innovative interaction provides a unique opportunity for students and researchers to examine the practical relevance of social and economic theories and their feasibility for implementation in different cultural and institutional contexts (Iran and Germany).

The selection of Iran is justified due to its high-risk profile with respect to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, drought, dust and sandstorms, its economic size and its important geostrategic position in the Middle East and the Islamic world.

The outcome of our program will have positive impacts on the curricula, teaching, and professional training of students and early-career researchers at the participating Iranian and German institutions. This is being achieved by increasing the practical relevance and applicability of social sciences and economic research in the fields of natural disaster management and supports sustainable development.

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