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Faculty of Humanities

Duncan Shaw

Direction in disaster with Duncan Shaw

Professor of Operations and Critical Systems in Alliance Manchester Business School

The scale of the scenarios that Duncan Shaw uses his skills as a researcher to build emergency toolkits for cannot be understated. Safeguarding human life and resources in a flooded city in the Netherlands, evacuating six million people from downtown Tokyo, and the release of harmful substances in urban areas are all challenges he has explored in his work, potentially saving many innocent lives.

Part of this is knowing how to marshal the many hundreds or thousands of spontaneous volunteers who can emerge and want to be involved when disaster strikes; and how to motivate and equip them by preparing for them in advance even though they are complete strangers.

University offers a spectacular home from which to apply powerful approaches to supporting decision-making that can affect vast populations.

Duncan Shaw / Professor of Operations and Critical Systems

“It's mostly about preparing,” he explained. “How do communities prepare? How do government organisations and their partners prepare?”

Disaster management is not a traditional academic discipline, and yet the importance of academia in preparing for and providing roadmaps for crises at scale is vital. As an academic, Duncan has access to more doors than most.

“University offers a spectacular home from which to apply powerful approaches to supporting decision-making that can affect vast populations,” he explained, adding that the credibility of an institution such as The University of Manchester, makes it easier to put a call through to the right person in times of need.