Disaster and Reconstruction: A Field Course in Post-Hurricane Maria Reconstruction and Gender in Puerto Rico
This field-based course enables students to learn how natural disasters are lived in the individual lives of persons by focusing on the incidence of gender based violence after disaster. This is an interdisciplinary field research experience course in Public Health and long term natural disaster management that leverages the ability of humanistic inquiry to connect lives lived to larger social and cultural processes.
Students in this course analyze and collect narratives that demonstrate the gendered impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rican society. Engaging in the work of public humanities, students will work to make the collection of narratives of life post-disaster useful for community reconstruction. In this effort, students will be guided by local public intellectuals, artists, and activists. Through classroom instruction and site visits, students will engage in putting humanities analysis together with social science methods. Interviews, surveys and social service inventories will be analyzed in tandem with site visits to cultural performances and installations so as to understand the work of social reconstruction and gender based violence as it is expressed by artists, activists, community members, policy makers, and researchers.
This practice of inquiry at this time in Puerto Rico requires a deep engagement with questions that have been at the core of humanistic inquiry. Literature and art—modern, classic, western, and that originating in the global south— are filled with gendered narratives of hardship, endurance, tragedy, and the trials of overcoming disaster that are now strikingly present in the lives of Puerto Ricans. Through crafting life stories in context, the course asks students to interrogate what lies at the core of the human will to survive and thrive amidst hardship. Tracing how societies, not just individuals, reframe core values in the face of hardship, scarcity and loss, the course draws attention to the ways that gender shapes understandings of the self and society. These are age old questions as human resilience in the face of disasters, both natural and manmade, have shaped societies for millennia.
Puerto Rico Brochure: Disaster and Reconstruction