Disaster Movies in the Classroom: Pedagogical Value and Teaching Approaches

November 2018 (VOL. 36, NO. 3)

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Film as a pedagogical technique has been increasingly utilized by instructors in the classroom setting. As previous research highlights the benefits of this method, the question remains as to how this strategy can be effectively applied in the study of hazards, disasters, and emergency management. This paper describes an undergraduate course that uses cinematic portrayals of disaster to present and highlight a number of significant themes from the disaster science literature. We have found the examination of disaster films to be a valuable strategy for teaching topics which can range from disaster myths or erroneous science or, by contrast, relatively accurate portrayals of human behavior in disaster. This article surveys some of the existing literature on film in teaching; highlights how we have used films in courses; and offers suggestions on how some noteworthy films can be used to demonstrate and reinforce challenging theories from the literature.