February 16, 2016

Justin Henceroth (MDes RR, 2017), Oscar Natividad Puig (MDes RR, 2016), Omar de la Riva (MUP, 2017), Illika Sahu (MUP, 2017), Ashley Thompson (MDes RR, 2017), Jeronimo Van Schendel (MArch II, 2016)

January 2 – 23, 2016

Kathmandu Nepal

Grants and Fellowships:
Harvard University Asia Center Winter Session Research Grant, Harvard GSD Community Service Fellowship

In January 2016, a research team from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design worked in Nepal to identify opportunities for new and innovative approaches to the earthquake recovery and response. Working with World Vision International, the research team worked on three research topics.

Innovation Lab — Ashley Thompson and Justin Henceroth conducted research to establish a framework for an Innovation Lab within the disaster response. The Lab will provide a space where international and local organizations, companies, and governments can develop and test new innovations for their ability to contribute to disaster response. The developed framework centers on establishing local-level partnerships as key to developing successful innovations and as the pathway through which innovation can contribute to gender equity, social inclusion, and resilience.

Shelter — Oscar Natividad-Puig, Illika Sahu, and Jeronimo Van Schendel worked with the shelter team at World Vision and their partner Build Change to develop a new model for social inclusion and social capital within the shelter rehabilitation. The research both proposed new typologies for construction that integrate local needs with more resilient construction design as well as overall structures that can strengthen the social fabric of communities where resilience is built.

Geospatial Data and Mapping — Omar de la Riva worked with the program team at World Vision to build their capacity with geospatial data and mapping. GIS and mapping tools have recently been introduced to the Earthquake Response Team. Omar helped the team identify new ways in which GIS and mapping tools could support other programmatic efforts and then led training exercises to build the capacity of the team.

Building on this research, we have plans to continue engaging with our partners in Nepal and to present our work to the GSD. We are planning to hold a presentation and workshop for the student body during the semester in which we will present our findings, discuss the implications for disaster response, and promote discussion on how these findings affect practice at the GSD. We also plan to host a small exhibition of drawings, maps, and photographs developed through this research. Several interesting opportunities surrounding resilience, disaster assessment, entrepreneurship and leadership, gender equity and so on, have emerged that would enable us to remain onboard with the Innovation Lab and/or with other agencies based in Kathmandu. More to come.