Conversations about Risk and Disaster Reduction Podcast


Staff lead: Joanna Faure Walker

Student leads: Rebekah Yore, Candice Oreal


Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


We worked together as a team to design and co-create the beginnings of a podcast around disaster themes that could be run in the future as an Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction podcast. The project included considering how series and episodes could be structured and what topics could be covered. We recorded a pilot episode, including two members of the team, and then a focus group was led by the other team member among current students for feedback about structure, style and content, as well as being used as an opportunity to receive further ideas. Following from the feedback (which was useful and much appreciated), we then proceeded to make some minor amendments to the pilot and record further episodes. We now have a few episodes ready and a plan for the details of the rest of the first season, as well as some exciting ideas for following seasons. Having a staff, PhD student, and masters student work together allowed us to think carefully about different audiences and aims, and to recognise strengths across the team. I hope to have many opportunities to work with the whole team again.


Ensure to have a conversation at the beginning about why everyone is participating and what they would like to get out of it. We did this in the first meeting and allowed us to tailor activities and assign tasks in a way to help different team members get the experience in the areas wanted and help them develop the desired skills. Do be realistic about how much can be achieved in the time – it can be tempting to be overly ambitious. Think about what the legacy of the project will be and how to ensure that occurs.

Supporting departmental student society in improving students’ experience and sense of belonging

The team
Staff: Dr Yulia Ioffe
PhD Student: Mhari Gordon
MSc Student: Kim-Anh Anastasia Chau
BSc Student: Libby Kay
Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR)
What happened?
The idea started with student representatives at the Staff-Student Consultative Committee mentioning students’ feelings of isolation and desire for more social interaction. A student survey was sent at the beginning of the ChangeMakers project (with 30 respondents) where students expressed the desire for a department society in order to improve the student experience, sense of belonging, and collaborative environment society. This ChangeMakers project aimed to gather the opinions of current students of the IRDR to formulate recommendations for the upcoming new department student society. This project benefits the current 170 students of the IRDR and is expected to benefit the creation of the student society and future IRDR students as the overall student number is expected to grow in the next 5 years to 500 students. In order to capture the wider views and be representative of the IRDR student community, the team comprised of a student from each cohort (BA, MSc and PhD). Furthermore, the project was run in collaboration with a staff member. To meet the project aim, the team organized and ran both a focus group discussion (FGD) session, including 12 students (4 per cohort), as well as social events open to all IRDR students, including a tea and coffee morning and pub evening. After the FGD and events, the team met to discuss the success of the project and write a report to hand over recommendations to the new department society. Overall, the findings were that the IRDR students wanted a more vibrant student community and the ChangeMakers team was able to identify social events that students want next year, such as regular social events which are per cohort, across cohorts and with alumni, including activities such as picnics, game nights and museum trips, as well as taking part in activism, volunteering, and seasonal activities including ice-skating trip and end of term dinners. The team is confident that the new department student society will start with strong based on the contributions and recommendations of the efforts from the ChangeMakers team and the ‘starter kit’ report.
What advice or encouragement would you give to someone thinking of doing a ChangeMakers project?
Taking part in a UCL ChangeMakers project reinforces the feeling of belonging in the department, a great way to get to know students from other cohorts, as well as the wider UCL community. It is rewarding to contribute to building the student’s sense of belonging and identity by supporting the development of a new society. To know the project will be impactful, you should start by questioning what would be very valuable to the student community you are part of. This can be achieved by running surveys or simply discussing with your peers. To ensure the project is successful, set targeted and quantifiable goals. Set and follow clear deadlines. Discuss with your colleagues or staff if you experience difficulties. Organize reflective sessions.