Ateneo de Manila University has linked up with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai in a bid to strengthen academic and research work in disaster studies, an important emerging field of study with global implications.

The two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday, 4 May 2021, in a virtual ceremony. TISS was represented by Prof. Shalini Bharat, Vice-Chancellor and Director, while Ateneo de Manila was represented by Fr Roberto Yap SJ, President. Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran witnessed the event.

Also in attendance was Fr Jose Cruz SJ, Vice President for University and Global Relations of Ateneo de Manila.

The linkage focuses on disaster studies, an emerging field that merges sciences, engineering, and the social sciences in studying and analyzing disaster prevention, management, and mitigation. The field of disaster studies is fast emerging as one of the most important interdisciplinary areas of study and research, as the world grapples with an increasing number of disasters especially with the ongoing climate crisis.

Both institutions already have robust disaster studies programs. TISS, officially regarded by the Indian government as a university, is one of India’s top higher educational institutions in the social sciences, and the pioneer social work institution in the country.  It has been offering the Masters in Disaster Studies program since 2007, the first in Asia. The Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies, based in the megacity Mumbai, draws faculty from the fields of environmental sciences, social sciences, law, economics, gender studies, and other related disciplines.

Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila has several academic and social development programs that focus on disaster risk reduction and management. For years, its Disaster Response and Management (DReAM) team has been at the forefront of emergency response in the country. In addition, the University has several academic and research programs in the field, including the Coastal Cities At Risk project and the Master in Disaster Risk and Resilience degree program.

“In a globalized world, more than ever before, we need extraordinary international cooperation. I'm sure the quality of this partnership and the nature of cooperation between these two universities would be effective, meaningful, and strong, leveraging on mutual strengths and priorities in responding to the needs in the field of disaster risk reduction and knowledge building,” said Prof Bharat.

"My hope in this partnership between Ateneo and Tata Institute of Social Sciences will be mutually beneficial for our programs of study and research in the field of disaster risk management and resilience, which is much needed by both our countries," Fr Yap said.

As part of the partnership, the two institutions will engage in student, faculty, and researcher mobility programs; information and academic resource sharing; and internships, symposia, lectures, and research activities in disaster studies.

For Ateneo, the primary partners will be the Schools of Science and Engineering (SOSE) and Social Sciences (SOSS) of the Loyola Schools, while for TISS it will be the Jamsetji Tata School of Disaster Studies.

The Indian Embassy in the Philippines has been integral in helping realize the partnership, as part of its efforts in linking Philippine and Indian institutions for partnerships.

"This engagement between two leading academic institutions of India and the Philippines reflects both our shared resolve to work and also a sense of confidence in each other's abilities as learning and growing institutions that can contribute meaningfully in the response to emerging challenges. This is very timely, very opportune and very welcome," Ambassador Kumaran said.

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