Deakin professor to improve disaster response thanks to prestigious award

Media release
09 March 2017

The Head of Deakin’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Matthew Clarke, has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to expand his work in building the leadership capacity of those at the frontline of humanitarian disasters.

Professor Clarke, who also researches within the Alfred Deakin Institute of Citizenship and Globalisation, was last night awarded an Origin Foundation Fulbright Scholarship, which will allow him to travel to the United States to build connections with its aid sector and expand the outreach of the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership.

“The Centre for Humanitarian Leadership (CHL) was established three years ago by Deakin University and Save the Children to change the way the world responds to humanitarian crises by developing the leadership capacity of aid workers who are the frontline responders when disasters strike,” said Professor Clarke, who was the inaugural chair of the Centre.

“Through the Centre we have trained nearly 400 aid workers how to better respond to disasters in their own countries and around the world with a key focus on the Asia/Pacific region.”

Professor Clarke said that developing the leadership capacity of aid workers was key to the effective handling of disasters.

“Disasters by definition are chaotic and traumatic,” he said.  “Leadership helps bring order and calm to otherwise fraught circumstances. Good leadership saves lives and brings stability in times of upheaval.”

Through the Origin Foundation Fulbright Scholarship Professor Clarke will be based with Save the Children USA and spend time at universities that do similar work to the CHL.

“Being based with Save the Children USA will allow me to understand their training needs and experiences of responding to disasters in that region. I will also be visiting the Feinstein Centre at Tufts University and the Harvard Humanitarian Academy to seek collaboration as they undertake similar work to our Centre,” Professor Clarke said.

“By expanding the outreach of the CHL, more aid workers will be exposed to our Humanitarian Leadership Program. This exposure will enhance their skills in responding more effectively to the more than 400 disasters that affect 120 million people each year.”

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