TOP-RANKING Indian learning institution Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) signed a memorandum of understanding on May 4 to promote exchanges in the field of disaster studies.
With the understanding, TISS and ADMU will enable the exchange of students, faculty members and researchers; placement of students within the university or with industry partners for internship; exchange of information and academic resources of mutual interest; and activities such as collaborative researches, joint symposia and guest lectures.
The memorandum was signed by Prof. Shalini Bharat, who is TISS’ vice-chancellor and director; as well as Fr. Roberto C. Yap—ADMU’s president, with Ambassador of India to the Philippines Shambhu S. Kumaran as witness. TISS’ Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies and ADMU’s School of Social Sciences and the School of Science and Engineering will be the principal partners.
With more than seven decades in the field of disaster response, TISS was among the first institutions in Asia to offer a full-fledged Master’s in Disaster Studies in 2007. The program covers both social sciences and technologies for disaster-risk reduction. Its faculty consists of experts on economics, law, environmental sciences, social work, community organization, gender studies, geographic information system and remote sensing, as well as hydrology.
For its part, ADMU committed to a high degree of educational excellence and professional competence. It played a significant part in the Philippines’s development through its social development programs and has extended assistance countrywide with its Disaster Response and Management or “DReAM” team.
The university, through its educational programs like Master’s degree in disaster-risk and resilience, as well as projects like “Coastal Cities at Risk: Investing in Climate and Disaster Resilience,” has been advancing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches in addressing risk and building resilience.
The increasing intensity and frequency of natural disasters across the globe, and the developmental, financial and humanitarian challenges that they present, call for greater international cooperation in disaster prevention, management and mitigation. Disaster Studies is emerging globally as a full-fledged academic discipline that demands specialization, academic education, training and sharing of best practices.
According to the embassy, the memorandum is an effort to encourage wide-ranging, development-oriented and forward-looking educational collaboration between entities from India and the Philippines, as part of a vibrant bilateral partnership that addresses the future needs of both countries.
“This engagement between two leading academic institutions…reflects both our shared resolve to work and also a sense of confidence in each other’s abilities as learning and growing institutions that can contribute meaningfully in response to emerging challenges,” Kumaran said in his address during the virtual signing ceremony. “This is very timely, very opportune and very welcome.”
For the embassy, the educational partnership in the field of disaster studies is also a reflection of the importance attached by India to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to building disaster resilience.
India seeks a cooperative approach to build resilience in geographies susceptible to natural disasters with leading global initiatives, especially that of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, where the Philippines was formally invited to join.