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Listening
Conducting interviews in Morrelganj, Bangladesh. Photo © Amio Ascension/World Vision

Listening — picking up the signals

“The first duty of love is to listen.”
(Paul Tillich, German-American Theologian and Philosopher, 1886-1965)

This webpage contains information about my research interests and selected international fieldwork projects. See my WEBLOG for local-level interviews with individual respondents. Poor people are particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change. Listening to their views and experiences can be the beginning of a mutually enlightening and empowering partnership for sustainable development.

Listening is the beginning of learning. It enjoys a long and enduring legacy which writers and thinkers have highlighted over centuries: "Let the wise listen and add to their learning" (King Solomon, 1011-931 BC, Holy Bible Proverbs 1:5); "To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well" (John Marshall, American Statesman and Chief Justice, 1755-1835); "Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking" (Bernard M. Baruch, American Economist and Presidential Advisor, 1870-1965); "A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something" (Wilson Mizner, American Playwright, 1876-1933). In the simplest of terms, research is careful listening. No listening, no learning. Listening is the beginning of wisdom. 

Research interests

  • Global poverty reduction
  • Humanitarian emergency response, disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness
  • Community based climate change adaptation
  • Disaster triggered displacement, climate change induced forced human migration
  • Environmental sustainability and development, transformation towards a low-carbon global society

Selected media coverage

  • Philippines • Manila/Luzon (8-15 January 2012); Cagayan de Oro/ Mindanao (15-20 January); Manila (20-22 Janaury): Typhoon induced displacement and resettlement related PhD field research.
    Download/s: research assistant website (external page by Chris Pforr)
  • Singapore • (6 January 2012): Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU): PhD thesis related research visit and expert interview on GIS mapping and disaster induced displacement.
  • Maldives • Malé (19-24 December 2011); Hanimaadhoo (24 Dec 2011 - 1 Jan 2012); Malé/ Hulhumalé (1-3 January): PhD field research into climate change and non-climate change related human migration and resettlement.
  • Sri Lanka • Colombo (19 December 2011)
    Scoping visit to gauge existing Maldives-Sri Lanka migration links.
  • India • Kolkata (8-11 December 2011); Basanti/ Sundarbans (12-13 Dec); Kolkata (14 Dec); Chennai (15-19 Dec): PhD field research into conditions and aspirations of Kolkata street dwellers; cyclone related rural-urban migration from Sundarban areas following Cyclone Aila (2009); Chennai slum clearance and tenement housing development.
  • Bangladesh • Dhaka (27 November 2011); Bhola Island (28-30 Nov); Chittagong (1-3 December); Dhaka (4-8 Dec): PhD field research into migration push / pull factors (distinguishing between environment and/or climate related issues and non-environment and/or non-climate related issues) with a view to informing relevant stakeholders of the perspectives, experiences, felt needs, aspirations and preferred solutions of forced migrant communities.
  • Bolivia • Santa Cruz (24 November-5 December 2010); Camiri/ Chaco communities (6-18 December); Santa Cruz (19 December 2010 - 6 January 2011); La Paz (7-12 Jan); Santa Cruz (13-20 Jan): PhD field research into drought induced / enhanced forced rural-urban migration.
    Download/s: video documentary (UNSW-TV; alternatively here)
  • Papua New Guinea / Bougainville • Port Moresby (20-22 October 2010); Buka (23-25 Oct); Carteret Atoll (26-28 Oct); Buka/ Tinputz/ Maran Village (28-30 Oct); Nissan Atoll (31 Oct - 3 Nov); Buka (4-5 Nov); Port Moresby (6 Nov): PhD research (pilot study) into climate/ environment and non-climate/ non-environment related migration push factors.
  • Bolivia • Santa Cruz, La Paz (14 December 2009 - 12 January 2010): PhD field research scoping visit into drought induced / enhanced forced rural-urban migration.
  • Maldives • (May 2009): Self-funded PhD research scoping visit conducted in conjunction with NGO Bluepeace Maldives to explore tsunami induced displacement from the Island of Kandholudhoo to Dhuvaafaru following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
  • Cambodia • Phnom Penh (8-13 July 2008): Disaster report related field work into microfinance and microinsurance mechanisms for enhanced disaster preparedness.
  • Bangladesh • Dhaka (19-20 April 2008); Bhola Island (21-22 April); Khulna/Sundarbans (23 April); Morrelganj (24 April); Dhaka (25-26 April): Disaster preparedness related field research following Cyclone Sidr (2007).
  • Papua New Guinea • Port Moresby (12-13 March 2008); Buka (13-18 March); Lae (18-20 March); Port Moresby (20-21 March): Disaster report related field research.
  • Indonesia • Jakarta (13 January 2008); Aceh (14-16 January), Jakarta (17-19 January): Disaster report related field research.
  • Singapore • (28 November 2007 - 23 September 2008): World Vision International regional communications advisor for Asia Pacific.
  • Philippines • (February-March 2006): World Vision emergency aid distribution to survivors of Leyte landslide in St. Bernard with more than 1,000 casualties. Documentation and media coverage of relief operations.
  • South Africa • Worcester (Sep - Dec 1998): University of the Nations (UOFN) Leadership Training School (LTS). Completed 12-week LTS module with focus on pioneering non-profit ventures in Africa. This field-based trilingual (English, Spanish, Portuguese) LTS focused primarily on equipping non-Western background leaders in areas of pioneering leadership, management, organisation and communication.
  • Estonia • (April - June 1996): Completed University of the Nations (UOFN) Youth Leaders Training School (YLTS) placement, promoting reconciliation initiatives through social services following the country's independence.
  • Sierra Leone, West Africa • (October 1994 - January 1995): German Government Civilian Servant secondment to the European Baptist Mission (EBM). This youth leadership development programme was offered in conjunction with the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone (BCSL) to advance youth work in the context of building civil war tensions.
  • Costa Rica • (Dec 1993 - Mar 1994): Completed Youth With A Mission (YWAM) social services field assignment training in Heredia / San José, and Turrialba. Studied Spanish in Costa Rican host family.
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