NYU Steinhardt News

Teaching and Learning Professor Receives Global Incubator Award

Raul Lejano, Associate Professor of Environmental Conservation Education, received an NYU Steinhardt Global Research Incubator Award in support of his work helping high need communities cope with storm surge.  Lejano and collaborators from partner organizations in Bangladesh and the Philippines will use the grant funding to continue to develop, disseminate and test a communications toolkit intended to improve the public’s ability to understand climate-related hazard warnings.   

Lejano explained, “there is this gap, between the stream of data the weather scientists get from their forecasting models and the actions people, living in the path of a dangerous tropical cyclone, do in real-time – this is where our work in environmental education happens.”  The project has recently focused on a real-time intervention using the toolkit for risk communication in the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The Inter-Service Coordination Group overseeing the Rohingya resettlement camp in Bangladesh estimates that over 650,000 members of the Rohingya ethnic community have left their homes in Myanmar and crossed the border.  One of many challenging conditions for this population is the threat of mudslides and slope failure on the steep embankments where the resettlement camp is located. This project addresses these risks with a number of interventions intended to increase preparedness for extreme weather.

In the Philippines, Lejano is collaborating with the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Defence among other organizations to promote nationwide use of the risk communication toolkit.  The project was first piloted in the Leyte and Samar provinces in the Philippines and efforts to scale-up the project will enhance the public’s ability to understand hazard warnings throughout the country.  Lejano is also exploring toolkit dissemination in Vietnam, which would provide another test case for toolkit effectiveness.

Lejano’s research employs multiple analytic methods for exploring human-environment relationships in the city. Recent work has employed tools like narrative analysis and cognitive maps for environmental education and policy analysis.  He draws upon past work on WHO and World Bank-funded community resilience projects responding to disaster; and is actively engaged in professional organizations in the field including Communities for a Better Environment, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and Environment and the Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre.