Disaster Education Based on Community of Practice: A Case Study in Okitsu Community

Yingying Sun, Kyoto University, Katsuya Yamori, Kyoto University, Seiji Kondo, Kyoto University


The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) increased awareness of disaster preparedness and mitigation in communities throughout Japan which are facing similar catastrophic disaster risks. One such community is Okitsu, a small coastal village located in southeastern Kochi prefecture, which is at risk of tsunami. In Okitsu, even before the GEJE, participatory tsunami management has been successfully promoted by various stakeholders (e.g., local residents, school pupils, government officials, and disaster experts). This effort has resulted in benefits in terms of both hard construction and soft countermeasures. In this paper, we discuss the disaster education in Okitsu, from the perspective of community of practice, a social theory of learning proposed by Lave et al (1991). In contrast with conventional views of learning, the theory focuses not on internalization of knowledge or skills, but on participation in the community of practice. We focus on three major concepts of the theory: artifact, practice, and identity. Close and mutual reinforcing triangular relationships between artifact, practice, and identity are shown to contribute significantly to the achievements in disaster education in Okitsu. Nonetheless, these factors also create some negative outcomes, such as the reliance on a limited number of active participants. Thus, as co-participants in the community of practice, the authors are planning a new approach, the single-person drill, for tsunami evacuation that uses new artifacts (e.g., small video cameras, GPS equipment) in order to make changes in the triangular relationships. In this drill, artifacts record the whole process of a specific single evacuee, which results in personal conditions being more carefully taken into account.


Disaster education; tsunami evacuation; hazard mapping; community of practice; single-person drill

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