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Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies for coastal regions: mapping and prediction derived from the intersection between Hazard, Exposure and Vulnerability

Social Vulnerability (SV) explains and describes the degree of individual and community propensity to observe losses from events with harmful consequences. Existing methodologies allow to decompose a given score of social vulnerability – age, income, gender, education, ethnicity, housing conditions, unemployment, mobility… – into their drivers or roots, identifying and mapping them, according to the adopted spatial units. This capacity to anticipate the degree of expected loss is key in developing the necessary disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies, which requires standardization of methodologies that allow for the comparison of distinct geographical, social and cultural contexts, in time; refinement and adaption of existing methodologies to address hazard-specific social vulnerability assessments, demonstrating the added-value to risk governance from applying hazard-specific against multi-hazard assessments; scenario-based methodologies of social vulnerability assessments; and knowledge transfer into disaster risk reduction strategies.


AIR Centre PhD grants are aimed at applicants enrolled or that comply with the requirements to enroll for PhD related studies and who wish to carry out research towards this degree. Candidates with Bachelor and/or a Master degree in Geography or in related scientific areas can apply. Scientific publications are a plus.

Summary of work plan

The candidate will closely collaborate with the advisory team in the development and application of social vulnerability assessment methodologies. The main tasks to be developed and be further detailed in the thesis project are:

  • Define a thesis plan that fits the scientific priorities and research objectives of the AIR Centre and the participating institutions ( IGOT, CES and Fiocruz);
  • Literature review with a particular focus on the following topics: risk sciences; risk governance; risk assessment and management; disaster risk reduction; registration and types of loss; types of vulnerability; social vulnerability assessment; drivers of social vulnerability; statistical and field techniques in assessing social vulnerability; vulnerability studies for specific risks and studies for multi-risks; multi-temporal and multi-scalar assessment of social vulnerability; methods for validating ex-ante and post-disaster social vulnerability scores; potential applications of knowledge related to social vulnerability in risk governance in light of the Sendai Framework 2015-2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, namely in terms of spatial planning, urban management, sustainable practices, emergency and civil protection, warning systems and alert, social policies, environmental policy, Citizen Science, Internet of Things); strategies of participation and involvement of citizens in the evaluation process and in the process of applicability of social vulnerability studies to various scales of intervention (regional, municipal and local);
  • Collection of statistical data which should involve carrying out fieldwork with the application of questionnaires and interviews;
  • Integration and statistical and geographical analysis of data related to the drivers of social vulnerability;
  • Articulation between social vulnerability and exposure to disaster risk
  • Comparison and validation of the results obtained in concrete contexts, both before and after the catastrophe;
  • Study of calibration methodologies for models of social vulnerability assessment using post-disaster evidence inventoried through fieldwork;
  • Collaboration with the population and stakeholders interested in the applicability of the results of the assessment of social vulnerability in regional, municipal and local strategies for disaster risk reduction and sustainability;
  • Writing of scientific articles and presentation of results in forums and scientific events, in Portugal and abroad, related to matters related to the object of study of the doctoral dissertation.

Name(s) of supervisor(s)

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Pedro Pinto Santos, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning (IGOT)
Co- Supervisor(s): Prof. Dr. José Luís Zêzere, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning (IGOT) and Prof. Dr. José Manuel Mendes, Center for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra

Name(s) of hosting institution(s)

The research will be conducted at Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning (IGOT), University of Lisbon in close cooperation with the Center for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Brazil.

Identification of PhD program

PhD Program in Territory, Risk and public Policies offered by the University of Lisbon, University of Coimbra and University of Aveiro.

Please check Program’s website for PhD application deadlines:

Jury Composition

Prof. Mário Vale, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning (IGOT), University of Lisbon. (Chairman)

Prof. Adélia Nunes (U Coimbra)

Prof. Susana Pereira (U Porto)

Notice of the Call (Portuguese version)

Notice of the Call (English version)

We are no longer accepting applications for this scholarship. Thank you.