The Cerg-C: A Specialisation Certificate in Geological and Climate Related Risk of the University of Geneva, Switzerland

Friday, 19 December 2014
Costanza Bonadonna1, David Consuegra2, Blaise Duvernay3, Donat Fäh4, Corine Frischknecht1, Christopher Gregg5, Michel Jaboyedoff6, Olivier Lateltin7, Scira Menoni8, Romerio Franco9 and Mauro Rosi10, (1)University of Geneva, Section of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geneva, Switzerland, (2)The School of Management and Engineering Vaud, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, (3)Federal Office for the Environment FOEN Topic Earthquakes, Bern, Switzerland, (4)ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, (5)East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, United States, (6)University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, (7)Swiss Geological Survey, Bern, Switzerland, (8)Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy, (9)Energy, policy and economics, Geneva, Switzerland, (10)Italian Civil Protection, Roma, Italy
The essence of our work at CERG-C (www.unige.ch/hazards) is to train participants, coming from around the world and with various academic and professional backgrounds, to incorporate risk science related to natural hazards into everyday life in an attempt to reduce losses in disasters. Principle components include training participants to assess risk, from hazard to vulnerability, and communicate effectively with government agencies, media, public and private sectors before, during and after natural disasters. Nine weeks of training involve 5 weeks of lectures in Geneva (in English), 2 weeks of field immersion and 2 weeks of exams. Participant experience culminates in completion of an independent research memoir carried out over an additional 6 months.

The course is divided into five modules: the risk management module, which includes humanities and social sciences and brings together a multi-disciplinary team of experts to provide participants with tools they can use to assess hazard, vulnerability and risk and provide solutions to risk management issues in their own countries; and four thematic risk modules, i.e., volcanic risk, seismic risk, landslide risk, and flood and climate related risk. As part of the volcanic risk module we also carry out a role-play exercise at the elementary school in Vulcano Island, Italy in collaboration with the Italian Civil Protection with the double goal of sensitizing the CERG-C participants on the importance of training hazard and risk at an early stage in people’s life as well as to raise awareness in the local population on topics such as the evaluation of volcanic hazards and risk, management of a volcanic crisis, and the importance of the collaboration between citizens and official institutions, such as the Civil Protection.

The CERG-C has been training international graduate students and practitioners since 1988 on a yearly basis. To date, 350 participants have been trained from 80 countries, representing a great contribution to the development of national capacities in natural risk assessment and management.