Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

U of M's Disaster Research Institute ends after 24 years

Only separate organization of its kind in Canada

  • Print
A pedestrian walks under a tree blocking a street following an ice storm in Toronto last December. The storm is among the areas of study in the now-disbanded DRI.

MATTHEW SHERWOOD / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

A pedestrian walks under a tree blocking a street following an ice storm in Toronto last December. The storm is among the areas of study in the now-disbanded DRI.

The University of Manitoba has quietly disbanded the Disaster Research Institute after 24 years of research into flooding, forest fires and other natural disasters in Manitoba and internationally.

"I don't know what's behind it," Prof. Emdad Haque, the DRI's co-director, said Friday.

the U of M was the only university in Canada placing such emphasis on disaster research, Haque said: "Nobody has any separate institute."

Haque and his colleagues will be swallowed up within the Natural Resources Institute, where Haque said there is no collective support dedicated to their work, and where the importance of specific disaster research will not be evident.

As the Disaster Research Institute, "It is easier to communicate and get credibility," he said.

'Provincewide, it is one of the most important areas'

The board of governors closed the institute at its most recent meeting, because the DRI no longer had funding.

Associate vice-president of research Gary Glavin said Friday the U of M has about 60 research institutes, each of which is reviewed every five years, and rely on external funding such as federal research grants or contracting out their services.

"They'd lost a lot of their external competitive funding -- there's no expectation of central funding," Glavin said.

He said the DRI members had accepted the institute would close. Professors across campus collaborate outside of a formal structure all the time, and there is nothing to stop researchers asking to re-establish the DRI in future, Glavin said.

But Haque was adamant the DRI should have continued.

"Individually, we are continuing our research on disasters and risks. Provincewide, it is one of the most important areas," he said. "It is a lot less (research) because of no collective institutional support."

Prof. Ronald Stewart, an atmospheric physicist and member of the DRI, said he could see Glavin's position -- federal granting agencies stopped funding disaster research.

But Stewart said disaster research deserves to be resurrected as a separate and visible body. "It is a huge issue -- we hear about disasters several times a day," he said.

Within the past week, said Stewart, he spoke in Canmore about the Alberta flood last summer, in Vancouver to discuss the city's vulnerability to disasters, and to the Manitoba government about the 2011 flood.

"I deal with extremes. I'm doing a study of the Toronto ice storm," said Stewart, who has conducted major research on droughts and said no one has done more research on the Quebec ice storm.

Haque said the institute began to see problems when Prof. John Rogge left to join the United Nations. "Since then, there is a crisis in leadership," he said.

The institute had been part of the geography department within the faculty of arts, but was moved into the new Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources.

"Funding dwindled," Haque said, to the point neither the Riddell faculty nor central administration would fund the institute.

Haque said the dwindling interest at the U of M in the DRI had nothing to do with Brandon University's introduction several years ago of an undergraduate applied disaster emergency studies program.

In fact, "That was my baby, I designed it," Haque said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 18, 2014 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview of Small Things at PTE Mainstage

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local-(Standup photo)- A wood duck swims through the water with fall refections in Kildonan Park Thursday afternoon.
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 110621 - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 -  Doug Chorney, president Keystone Agricultural Producers flight over South Western Manitoba to check on the condition of farming fields. MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
my2011poy

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who will you vote for in Wednesday's mayoral race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google