School of Architecture

  • Centre for Development and Emergency Practice

    Founded in 1985, the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) is a multidisciplinary centre that brings together academics, development practitioners and policy makers. The work that CENDEP does looks at disaster risk reduction and response; shelter, housing and home; human rights; forced migration; conflict, peace and humanitarianism; and, transformative and community resilience in adverse settings.

  • Postgraduate taught masters

    We offer three postgraduate courses that are developed from our research and grounded in field-based practice. Our unique position between academia, policy and practice, make our graduates are sought after within the humanitarian and development sector.

     MA / PGDip / PGCert Development and Emergency Practice

    Development and Emergency Practice

    MA / PGDip / PGCert

    The award-winning master’s provides a unique academic setting for the study of poverty, development and humanitarian work, conflict and disaster management. With its core emphasis on practice, the programme offers students the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes in the rapidly changing field of development and emergencies. The programme attracts students from all backgrounds, from experienced practitioners to those new to development.

    Course structure and application »

    BA Architecture (Hons)

    Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding

    MA / PGDip / PGCert

    The course has been built utilising the knowledge and expertise of CENDEP and UNITAR. It is an online course designed for practitioners working in the fields of humanitarian action and peacebuilding. It is also open to students who are in related fields who are seeking to develop a more holistic understanding of critical issues related to humanitarian action and peacebuilding.

    Course structure and application »

    Shelter after disaster A. Pacciani

    Shelter after Disaster

    PGCert

    The quantity and severity of natural disasters are increasing as our planet struggles with climate change, population growth and conflict. The need for effective ‘shelter after disaster’ – the provision of houses and homes for those affected – has never been greater. This programme is designed to develop reflective practitioners who will have an understanding of the practical and strategic issues of development and emergency practice, as well as an appreciation of the social and political context.

    Course structure and application »

    Wilkinson Scholarship
    in Development and Emergency Practice

    Award: £10,500
     

    Full Time Students
     

    Number of awards: 2

    To learn more about CENDEP courses, explore our recent dissertations.

  • Research areas

  • CENDEP conducts research on humanitarian practice in conflict areas. The research concerns the role of humanitarian practitioners, the changing landscape of conflict and its meaning for humanitarian practice and the experiences, adaptations and strategies of civilians in conflict settings. We are particularly concerned with the role played by culture in conflict. We explore how conflict changes cultural settings and expressions of affected people; how a culture of crises and of conflict may lead to changes of behaviours, values and perceptions for affected populations; the heritage of conflict that needs to be understood and monitored in post-conflict projects of reconstruction. Since 2010, we have created an observatory of symbolic violence aiming at understanding better ‘soft form of violence’ and its impacts on culture, identity of affected communities. With the main aims of protection, advocacy and capacity building, the observatory by way of action research aims at identifying the mechanisms of symbolic violence, its impacts and ways for the population to adapt to it and to reduce it. Action research projects are currently taking place in the West Bank through the ‘Building Sumud project’ and in Colombia targeting particularly ethnic minorities groups and internally displaced populations. Investigations are also conducted in Ukraine and Liberia. Research on the dilemmas between relief and development in protracted humanitarian contexts is also a main area of research. The research area collaborates closely with all areas of research in CENDEP, and particularly on forced migration and shelter.

    The relationship between law and practice is a key area of research for CENDEP where we contribute to the understanding of how policies and institutions operate in the protection of human rights. For example, we are conducting research on the effectiveness of torture prevention and the mechanisms for protecting against torture in different national contexts and globally. Socio-legal studies of the impact of law, and in particular the role of national human rights institutions, as well as a broader focus on human rights are major contributions. The relationship between human rights and forced migration, and more broadly the impact of forced migration on policies and institutional practices are important areas of research. In close collaboration with other research areas of CENDEP, we conduct research on protracted situations of conflict-induced displacement, the changing relationships between people and places as a result of forced migration, the role of shelter and housing for forced migrants (including property restitution), and the unintended consequences of humanitarian assistance in forced migration settings.

    Geographical areas:

    Globally (comparative studies), South-eastern Europe, South Asia, South-Caucasus, UK, Southern Africa

    The aim of CENDEP shelter research is to improve quality and effectiveness of reconstruction after the devastation and trauma of natural disaster and conflict. Shelter and settlements have wide impact and influence health, livelihoods, safety, environment, protection, education, water and sanitation, cultural identity and community. It reaches vulnerable groups: children, old people and the disabled, influences psychosocial issues and is critical in disaster risk reduction and resilience. Strategies for dealing with shelter in emergency settings can be controversial. Questions arise such as: how to balance immediate needs vs. planning for longer-term? Are construction materials appropriate to local knowledge and skills? Should local communities design and manage housing? Do traditional shelters contribute to people’s well-being and sense of community? What role can innovative technologies play? CENDEP works in collaboration with operational agencies to identify research projects on the impact of shelter, analyses and disseminate findings amongst the shelter community of practice.

    Within the field of disasters, risk and development, our work explores social aspects of emergencies, disaster and development. The research is particularly concerned with how social factors influence relative vulnerability and resilience experienced by individuals and households at risk or affected by emergencies. It studies how social identities and characteristics of persons, namely gender, age, disability, race and ethnicity and their intersectionality contribute to this experience. The research takes the standpoint that vulnerability and resilience are neither fixed nor exclusive, and we explore conditions under which they change. Livelihood systems, coping, adaptation strategies including migration are studied in these contexts. We analyse the institutional frameworks as well as social, economic, cultural and political context within which social change takes place and its implications for social policies for vulnerability reduction and pro-poor development such as social protection and entitlements. The work of CENDEP UK, namely the Small Change Forum, explores development issues, including poverty, identity and social urban development, within the United Kingdom. Using the Small Change Approach, as developed by CENDEP's Emeritus Professor Nabeel Hamdi, our research investigates, through theory and practice, ways in which participatory arts techniques can act as catalysts for positive change in communities. CENDEP conducts research at the interface between academic research and practical work and we collaborate with a number of civil society organizations and practitioners in this research area. Methodologically we conduct surveys, but the main part of our work is qualitative, using case studies, participatory, action research methods and more ethnographic approaches including comparative work. The research area is closely connected with other research areas of CENDEP.

    Geographical areas:

    South Asia, South East Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United Kingdom

  • Recent activities

    CENDEP Newsletter September 2018

    The call for new insights into the interlinked needs for development and emergency assistance is currently at a peak. Perpetual crises and protracted displacement require new answers and CENDEP is working in various projects where bridging and linking relief and development in protracted long-term crises is at its core.

    CENDEP Newsletter September 2018 »
    Good Practice Guide

    Good Practice Guide

    Embedding inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian policy and practice.

    Good Practice Guide »
    Good Practice Guide

    Oxford Human Rights Festival

    We host the annual Oxford Human Rights Festival in March which highlights some of our work. Do take the opportunity to visit us or attend one of our events. We look forward to welcoming you very soon.

    About the event »
    Human Rights Festival logo

    CENDEP Newsletter

    Research activities are an important part of our day to day activities and as the newsletter shows, CENDEP staff are active in all our four strategic research areas.

    Read the newsletter »
    CENDEP Newsletter

    Recent publications

    • Akerkar S and Bhardwaj R (2018) Good Practice Guide: embedding inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian policy and practice, ADCAP. Download publication.
    • Akerkar S, Fordham M, 'Gender, place and mental health recovery in disasters: addressing issues of equality and difference' International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 23 (2017) ISSN: 2212-4209 eISSN: 2212-4209
    • Akerkar S, Joshi, PC, Fordham M, 'Cultures of Entitlement and Social Protection: Evidence from Flood Prone Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, India' World Development 86 (2016) pp.46-58 ISSN: 0305-750X eISSN: 0305-750X
    • Brun, C. (2016) Dwelling in the temporary: the involuntary mobility of displaced Georgians in rented accommodation. Cultural Studies 30(2) Special issue on (Im)mobilities of Dwelling, edited by L. Meier and S. Frank.
    • Davis, I. and Alexander, D. (2016) ‘Recovery from Disaster’, Routledge Studies in Hazards, Disaster Risk and Climate Change. Routledge: Abingdon.
    • Azmi, F., C. Brun and R. Lund. 2016. Young people’s recovery in Eastern Sri Lanka: From war to postwar and beyond. In Geographies of Children and Young People, Vol 11 Conflicts, Violence and Peace, edited by K. Hörschelman and C. Harker. Springer.
    • Akerkar S, 'Development of a normative framework for disaster relief: learning from colonial histories in India' Disasters 39 (S2) (2015) pp.219-243 ISSN: 0361-3666 eISSN: 0361-3666
    • Akerkar A, Devavaram J, 'Understanding Rights Based Approach in Disasters: A case for affirming human dignity' in Collins A, Jones S, Manyena B, Jayawickrama J (ed.), Hazard, Risks and Disasters in Society, Elsevier (2015) ISBN: 978-0-12-396451-9
    • Ayers, J. Carnegie, R. Sergio Marques da Conceicao, L. Dolan, M. Helm Grovas, S. Jones, R. Keely, R. Piquard, B. Stockdale, M. and Savage, E. (2015), Existence is Resistance: Building resilience in the South Hebron Hills Oxford Brookes University
    • Alvarez, R. Akerkar, S. and Banks, T. (2015) Resilience and Recovery after Typhoon Haiyan Oxford Brookes University
    • Burnell, J. and Phillips, R. (2015) The "New" Local. In: Phillips, R. and Pittman, H. eds. An Introduction to Community Development, Second Edition. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.
    • Davis, I. (lead ed.) (2015) Shelter after Disaster (2nd edition). Published with the support of IFRC. IFRC and OCHA, 2015. Accessed: 21.06.2016.
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Exploring coordination in humanitarian clusters’ (with Leah Campbell) ALNAP / ODI 2015
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Briefing papers on humanitarian effectiveness 1-7 (with Alice Obrecht) ALNAP / ODI 2015
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Insufficient evidence? The quality and use of evidence in humanitarian action’ (with James Darcy) ALNAP / ODI 2014
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Between chaos and control: rethinking operational leadership’; ALNAP / ODI 2014
    • Paul Knox-Clarke Meeting the Urban Challenge: adapting humanitarian efforts to an urban world (with Ben Ramalingam) Alnap / ODI 2012
    • Fordham M, Gupta S with Akerkar, S and Scharf M (2011) Leading resilient development: grassroots women's priorities, practices and innovations, published by Groots International and UNDP; see https://huairou.org/
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Change in humanitarian organisations’ in ALNAP Review of Humanitarian Action 2008, ALNAP / ODI
    • Akerkar Supriya (2007) Disaster Mitigation and furthering women's rights: Learning from the Tsunami; in Gender, Technology and Development; 11; see http://gtd.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/3/357
    • Akerkar Supriya (2005) Rights, development and democracy: a perspective from India, in Reinventing Development: Translating Rights-Based Approaches from Theory into Practice, Ed Gready, Paul, Ensor Jonathan, ZED publications, UK and USA
    • Thomson K, Sundaray S, Akerkar S, Daniel U (2005) Bolangir to Hyderabad and the politics of poverty (co-authored) et al published by Action Aid International
    • Akerkar S (2001) Gender and participation, publication by Bridge, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK. see http://www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/reports/cep-part-rep.pdf
    • Research contributions to the Fifth Citizen's Report on the State of India's Environment, 1999 Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi
    • Akerkar Supriya (1997) "Feminist voices" in Journal Seminar, New Delhi, Pg34-37
    • Akerkar Supriya (1997) Women, ecology and development, in Women's Link, Volume 46, No3, published by Social Action Trust, New Delhi
    • Akerkar Supriya (1995) "Theory and practice of women's movement in India : A discourse analysis", Working Paper Series No 193, Published by Institute of Social Studies , Hague, Netherlands, April 1995. The Paper is also published in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XXX, No 17, Pg WS 2-WS-23, April 1995.

    Field trips

    Gujarat, January 2016

    This year students travelled to Gujarat, India to study the long term recovery challenges after earthquake of 2001. The visit was organised in collaboration with All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI), Gujarat, India. The 2001 earthquake had devastating effects on the affected population. 15 years on MA DEP students travelled to affected areas of Kutch and Patan districts of Gujarat. They conducted interviews with affected persons, undertook transect walks, used sketches to delineate changes. Captured in this special issue of southasiadisasters.net published by AIDMI and includes articles by DEP students on various themes allied with post-earthquake recovery challenges.

    Read field trip report »
    Gujarat, January 2016

    Colombia, January 2016

    As part of the ‘Observatory of Symbolic Violence’, a group of DEP students in partnership with CERAR (France) conducted a research trip to the Valle del Cauca region in Colombia. The team talked with different communities affected by conflict including the campesinos (farmers), cafeteros (coffee producers), indigenous people, Afro-Colombians and the displaced populations. The two week trip concluded with a debrief presentation to FECOOP in Cali, highlighting key findings such as fighting stigmatisation and normalisation, and mobilising youth as agents of change.

    Colombia, January 2016

    Colombia, January 2015

    The aim of this trip was to investigate the impacts of symbolic violence on direct and indirect victims of one of the longest contemporary conflict (65 years of violence) and of the hopes created by the peace process. Hardships but also populations, modes of adapatation, resilience and coping were monitored within two specific populations: displaced cafeteros (coffee farmers) and indigenous Pijao natives. During two weeks, 7 students, local members of partner universities and NGOs and one Brookes lecturer conducted interviews, focus groups and active observation of life of the affected communities'.

    Colombia, January 2015

    Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines Field Trip January 2015

    This year DEP students visited Typhoon Yolanda affected areas in Philippines. They assessed the recovery efforts taken so far, and interviewed survivors to understand their current challenges, in particular in relation their livelihoods and shelter. They also met government representatives, local council members, and other international NGOs to understand their roles in meeting these challenges. This field trip was taken in collaboration with the international development organisation: Action Aid International.

    Read field report »
    Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines Field Trip January 2015

    Palestine Fieldtrip 2014

    In April 2014 nine students and staff from CENDEP travelled to Palestine to undertake a research trip around South Hebron. Examining concepts of peaceful resistance and coping strategies in conflict situations, this field trip contributes to an ongoing study that builds on the existing strengths and capabilities of the Palestinian people living in this region.

    Read field report »
    Palestine Fieldtrip 2014

    Rebuilding Communities After the Earthquake, Livelihood and Shelter Study Leogane, Haiti, January 2014

    In January 2014 students and tutors from CENDEP were joined by staff and students from the University of Georgia, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) and Tufts University to undertake a ten day participatory assessment with the NGO Habitat for Humanity of housing following the January 2010 earthquake.

     Haiti, January 2014

    Vulnerable Communities Participatory Assessment, Western Cape, South Africa 2013

    In January 2013 eight students and staff from CENDEP joined students and staff from North West University’s African Centre for Disaster Studies (ACDS) and the University of Georgia’s Center For Community Design and Preservation for a ten day community assessment. The assessment took place in Piketberg in South Africa’s Western Cape, and involved visits to communities and meetings with officials. As with previous field trips, the purpose was to learn and test participatory approaches. The team was kindly hosted by the West Coast District and the Bergrivier Municipality. As part of the work students produced a final report which was presented to officials in Piketberg.

    Read field trip report »
    South Africa 2013

    Nagapattinam India 2012

    In January 2012, 26 students from DEP joined 5 students from the USA's University of Georgia and the NGO Resource Centre for Participatory Development Studies (RCPDS) to undertake a 10 day participatory assessment of coastal communities in Nagapattinam affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami. Nagapattinam was the worst affected area in India, accounting for 76% of deaths within Tamil Nadu. Over 6000 people lost their lives and approximately 40,000 houses were destroyed. The assessment sought to gauge how communities had recovered and the extent to which aid provided had contributed to this process. To these ends students spent time listening to communities, while undertaking participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) techniques. At the end of the workshop findings were presented back to participating communities for comment and discussion. Findings and recommendations were also discussed and verified at a half day meeting attended by local NGOs and government officials.

    Read field trip report »
    Nagapattinam India 2012

    Goa India 2011

    In January 2011, as part of the annual DEP field trip, 14 students undertook a 12 day participatory assessment in Morjim, a village in India's Goa State. The work was undertaken with the Indian NGO SEEDS India and the International Centre in Goa (ICG). The assessment focused on the threats of climate change along the coastal northern edge of Goa and the potential threat to vulnerable communities. Activities included discussions with local stakeholders and the use of participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) tools, including mapping and transect walks.At the end of the assessment student made two presentations. The first was to local residents in the fish market, wherein attendees were invited to provide feedback and comments on draft findings, including voting on which recommendations residents thought were most important.

    A second, formal session held at the ICG offices, was held later in the same day at the ICG offices and was attended by academics, experts and journalists. At that event the final report ' Morjim at risk? Community at a crossroads, Goa, India' was launched and discussed. The report received widespread interest in the media and was reported on the front page of the Times of India and The Goa Herald, as well as appearing in several websites and other newspapers. To find what the Deccan Herald said, click here. As a result of this study, an electronic platform entitled Goa Action Research was created, to share academic, professional and other projects on current issues in Goa. Find out more.

    Read field trip report »
    Goa India 2011

    Orissa India 2010

    In January 11 students from DEP attended the two week optional field visit to the Indian State of Orissa. The purpose of the visit was to conduct a participatory assessment with vulnerable communities. To these ends students spent time in Pentha Kota, a community of some 5000 families who have lived 'illegally' for over 50 years on the beach of the popular tourist town of Puri. The visit was carried out with the NGOs SEEDS India and the Urban and Development Resource Centre (UDRC) with help from the Orissa Slum Dwellers Federation.

    Read field trip report »
    Orissa India 2010

    Tamil Nadu India 2009

    On January 14th 2009 students attended a 12 day workshop in Nagapattinam, a town in Tamil Nadu. The workshop involved undertaking community assessments using participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) techniques in two villages affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami. At the end of the workshop findings were presented back to communities. The workshop was carried out in collaboration with the NGO Resource Centre for Participatory Development Studies (RCPDS).

    Tamil Nadu India 2009

    South Africa 2008

    In January 2008, CENDEP organised two field trips. The first in Alexandra, Johannesburg. A Johannesburg study tour for undergraduate architecture students, spent time in Alexandra township, as well as visiting Soweto, Constitution Hill and the Hector Pieterson Museum. While in Alex students were hosted by the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).

    The second for DEP students, involved a livelihoods assessment in Polokwane Province. Working with members of Polokwane Provincial Government Department of Housing, who hosted the workshop, students undertook participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) in two settlements, with findings being presented back to Government, NGOs and others for comment.

    South Africa 2008

    Alumni testimonials



    Hellen N. Atiol, CENDEP 2013/14
    "Currently, I work as the civil society coordinator for ADRA South Sudan, where I support the organisation in incorporating civil society and advocacy programming within all its various projects by mapping potential civil society actors/groups, and developing guidelines to facilitate advocacy efforts. The CENDEP programme has contributed significantly to my understanding of what is essential in development. The courses have encouraged me to think critically about sustainable development. I particularly remember the concept of ‘Rights-based approach’ and participatory development, which focuses on encouraging the most vulnerable in implementing their own development initiatives."


    Nadia Berger, CENDEP 2012/13
    "I currently work as a Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is my first real experience in a complex environment and what I learnt from the DEP course, especially on humanitarian principles, internal displacement and protection of civilians, is very useful for my field activities, as my role is to analyse the humanitarian situation and help raise the profile of humanitarian action in North Kivu."


    Kamiya Keisuke DEP 2011/12
    "The experience at CENDEP was really useful when working in the field. Last December, after the devastation by the Typhoon Yolanda, I was deployed to the Philippines by a Japanese NGO to engage in a recovery shelter programme. I developed a construction training programme incorporating humanitarian theories repeatedly learned at CENDEP, especially concerning people-centered approaches and working to ensure a smooth transition form emergency to recovery."


    Rabecca Moriku DEP 2010/11
    "My experience from living in a refugee camp for 16 of my 26 years in Northern Uganda is my biggest driver and motivation for pursing this Masters Degree in Development and Emergency Practice. My biggest dream is to work with vulnerable communities nationally and internationally..."


    Almaz Fiseha DEP 2010
    "I worked on development and emergency with international humanitarian organisations in my country, Ethiopia, for over 30 years. I stepped back from the 'chipping' away' at my work and came to study in order to understand the bigger picture. I chose Oxford Brookes because of the design of the DEP course was the answer to my quest. I really liked how the modules included theory and practical exercises and addressed development issues as well as disaster response in both rural and urban settings. It also provided applicable knowledge on human rights, conflict, shelter, gender, partnering etc."


    Josie Calvert DEP 2009/10
    "A week after I started at Save the Children UK a typhoon hit both Vietnam and the Philippines, there was an earthquake in Indonesia, and at the same time SCUK was preparing to scale up to respond to the chronic food crisis in East Africa. My first few weeks in the emergencies team were a real baptism of fire but I was able to draw on the knowledge and skills that I learnt at Oxford Brookes and apply them to my work. Starting the MA at Brookes was one of the best decisions I have ever made and my feet have hardly touched the ground since."


    Eric Meldrum DEP 2009/10
    "The course basically opened my eyes up to the world and I am still using the knowledge and skills I gained during that year in my work today. I simply would not have been able to get to where I have without doing the MA."


    John Harvey DEP 2009
    "A vet...what brings you here? The MA course helped me in balancing the challenges of working for an organisation that has a foot in development and a foot in the world of animal welfare. The cohort of students also provided me with ongoing friendship, support and great contacts."


    Sari Kaipainen, DipArch/DEP 2006/07"
    I completed the taught part of the Development and Emergency Practice course in 2006/07. I do not exaggerate when saying that this year and what followed was truly life changing."


    Damaris Frick, Salvation Army Emergency Services
    "The lecturers have broad experience in the field themselves and relate their teaching to that. It is also great that the course attracts people from various backgrounds, ethnically and regarding experience. The course challenges me to improve not only my own work but to influence my organisation as well."

    Contact us

    Centre for Development and Emergency Practice

    School of Architecture
    Oxford Brookes University
    Headington Campus
    Gipsy Lane
    Oxford UK
    OX3 0BP

    Tel: +44 (0) 1865 483200
    Fax: +44 (0) 1865 483298

    cendep@brookes.ac.uk