Such crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, and outbreaks of disease can be moments of severe distress, deprivation—and yet they also represent times when social change can take place. This class will engage with the scholarship that has emerged in the years since September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, aiming to put such events in historical, social and political context in order to think about how best to respond to, mitigate, and even prevent such catastrophes from taking place. How do we define disaster? Are disasters natural or political events? Are there differences between disaster zones that emerge as a result of human actions and those that appear to be natural? How people, organizations, and governments have responded and continue to respond to disasters says much about how we imagine society to be and how we hope it will be in the future. Readings will include texts by Ted Steinberg, Kai Erikson, Karen Sawislak, Eric Klinenberg, Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and others.