Justin Sharpe
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Personal profile

Research interests

Thesis Title: 

Learning to trust: Relational spaces and transformative learning for disaster risk reduction across citizen led, professional and humanitarian contexts.


Member of the Natural Hazards and Climate Change Adaptation group within the King's Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience research group. 


Taking the first steps towards learning to cope with both the threat and the actuality of disasters is a great challenge. Resilience and adaptation to climate change indicate processes of flexibility and adjustment. The range of adaptations open to individuals and by extension collectives will be limited in many ways. One important limiting dynamic is associated with capacity to learn, and the depth or superficiality of any learning. This includes the relative capacity individuals hold to deal with the challenges to normality that disasters bring.


Central to the argument of experience of learning as influencing learning outcomes is the degree to which learning opens space for reflection. Having the time, space and opportunity for reflection is more likely to allow the learner to undergo deeper shifts in values and associated behaviour - so called transformational learning and that this opens important space for learning to live with disaster risk and loss. This provides a framework with which to identify and assess TL and its drivers, rather than explain how it might be carried out. Study populations were identified to represent a specific social context for learning:


  1. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). This group provides formal training courses for local actors at risk to become community emergency response teams.
  2. Listos. A less formal learning programme aimed at Spanish speakers in Santa Barbara, centred on personal and family preparedness.
  3. UK based humanitarian NGO practitioners whose responsibility lies with enacting policy change within their organisations through monitoring and evaluation and learning roles.


This thesis explores these different learning contexts, testing the hypothesis that learning outcomes expressed through value and behavioural change are linked to the experience of learning - who learning is shared with, what is being learned and how this is reinforced.

Biographical details


I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography, King's College London and a member of the Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience. My PhD research is examining the effect of transformative learning on the long-term cognition and behaviour of individuals towards the disaster risk.

I have been developing curriculum materials that use a range of pedagogies to enable students to access disaster curriculum effectively while allowing them to take responsibility for their own safety and preparedness. The use of multi-media techniques in teaching, learning and sharing of knowledge is used to engage and motivate students in the process of disaster preparation. In 2008 I set up this edu4drr.org for educators involved with Disaster Risk Reduction Education (DRRE), which has over 320 members. The continued aim is to share good practice and provide resources and ideas for professionals. New learning resources have included videos, exercises and the creation of a DRR comic strip for use with younger learners.


Academic Papers:
Sharpe, J., (2016). Understanding and unlocking transformative learning as a method for enabling behaviour change for adaptation and resilience to disaster threats. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 17, pp.213-219.

Sharpe, J., (2015) Development Transformative Learning (TL) Process Model. A working paper, Environment, Politics and Development Working Paper Series, No. 70. Online:

Pelling, M., Sharpe, J., Pearson, L., Abeling, T., Gerger-Swartling, A., Forrester, J, and Deeming, H. (2015) Social Learning and Resilience Building in the embrace Framework: A Technical Report emBRACE.

Sharpe, J. and Izadkhah, Y.O. (2014) “Use of comic strips in teaching earthquakes to kindergarten children”. Disaster Prevention and Management, 23 (2), 138-156. Click here>>

Sharpe, J. and Kelman, I. (2011), “Improving the disaster-related component of secondary school geography education in England”, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 327-343.

Book Chapters:

Sharpe, J., ( 2017) “Learning to be practical: A guided learning approach to transform student community resilience when faced with natural hazard threats”. In Observing the Volcano World: Volcano Crisis Communication Springer DOI10.1007/11157_2017_1

Sharpe, J., Gerger-Swartling,.Å., Pelling, M., and Pearson, L (Forthcoming, 2017) “Social Learning and Resilience Building in the emBRACE Framework”. In Framing Resilience, Wiley.

Sharpe, J and UNESCO Pakistan (2014): Learning about Disaster and Remaining Safe. UNESCO, Pakistan. Produced and distributed by UNESCO in Pakistan and available in PDF format. To download click here>>


Silly Timmy's World: A Disaster Comic for Brave Children. Justin Sharpe.

A fun and funny comic book for children that shows what to do and not to do to prepare for hazards in life.

Presentations (available on Prezi):Sharpe, J. (2017) 

Addressing vulnerability to hazards by challenging what you think you know! Invited talk to the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford on 17/01/17, University of Oxford. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.12372.60807 

Sharpe, J. (2015 a) Evolving disaster resilience through transformational learning. Presentation to the Interagency Resilience Learning Group, London March, 2015. DOI: 0.13140/RG.2.1.4104.2402

Sharpe, J. (2015b) Crossing the Chasm: Applying Transformational Learning in Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience contexts. Presentation to King’s Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience, August 2015. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3350.5768

May 2015: Presentation to START-DEPP workshop that outlined two potential routes for examining learning capacity, offering ways of moving learning forward through sharing of lessons learned in a culture of openness and reflection in order to transform practice. Presentation: Learning to Evolve: Changing Approaches to Learning.

October 2014: Presentation to King’s Centre for Integrated Risk and Resilience entitled: Surfacing Learning for disaster resilience.

ResearchGate Profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Justin_Sharpe2

ORCiD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9564-273XWebsite:http://www.edu4hazards.org

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


  • GE Environmental Sciences
  • Disaster Risk Reduction
  • L Education (General)
  • Transmission of knowledge


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