Jonatan Lassa

Senior Lecturer in Humanitarian, Emergency and Disaster Management, Dr. Ing. / PhD - Disaster risk governance

Registered to supervise postgraduate research


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Lassa is a leading scholar on disaster risk governance, looking at institutions and governance practice in disaster reduction among the nations. Recently, he was awarded: "Top Research in the Field of Emergency Management by the Australian Research Magazine 2023 and 2024, subsequently"; And the "Science and Health Editor's Choice Award 2022" for contributions to science-based journalism focusing on disasters and health in The Conversation (ID) in 2022.

He completed his PhD at the University of Bonn while based at United Nations University in Bonn, Germany. He also completed one winter-semester postdoctoral fellowship at Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA, in 2011; andreceived Willis Re Postdoctoral Research Fellow position at the Institute of Catastrophic and Risk Management (ICRM), Nanyang Technological University, in 2011/2012.

His contributions to global disaster studies include macro and micro-level disaster governance,  complex network theory application in disaster management, institutions and institutionalisation framework in disaster reduction. Through academic papers and consultancy work, he promotes system and networked ecosystems approaches humanitarian studies and disaster risk reduction. His doctoral research has been one of the first systematic studies on disaster governance, looking at institutions and governance practices in disaster reduction in countries worldwide.

His research focuses on (but not limitted to)  the questions around how society and governments generate political will and commitments that leads to policy reform and change;  And how governments around the globe mainstream and sustain resilience and adaptation to climatic change. Dr Lassa focuses on South-East Asia and the Pacific. 

Prospective HDR Students

Please check out CDU's Higher Degree by Research website for more information about the PhD application procedure and scholarships. I am open to new ideas about PhD projects. If you already have a draft proposal and a scholarship, feel free to approach me for more conversation. Examples of my ongoing PhD supervision project include:
- Disasters and deaths: social-cultural perspective (started 2023)
- Mobile communities and disaster resilience planning (started 2023)
- Disaster communication, intercultural translation, and language technology (started 2022)
- Small-island community resilience and vulnerability mapping and indexing (started 2022)
- COVID-19 and smallholders in Indonesia (started 2021)
- Legal and governance dimension of multi-hazard early warning system in Indonesia (started 2018)

Completed PhD project supervision:

- Australia in the Pacific Islands: Strategic Narratives of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (2024)
- Adapting smallholder livestock systems to climate change: an empirical study of village-based water buffalo production and development in the Philippines (2018)
- Economic and social impacts of extreme weather events on the agricultural sector in the lowlands of Nepal (2020) 

I Welcome PhD students for the following topics

  • Disaster policy and utopia
  • Climate change, environmental migration and human trafficking
  • Disasters impact on migration and human trafficking
  • Social exclusion, risk, and disaster vulnerabilities
  • Understanding long-term recovery trends in Southeast Asia [at >30 years timescale]
  • Long-term observation of community-based and/or community-led disaster risk management practices in ASEAN.
  • Disaster risk governance and decentralization in Southeast Asia including Myanmar and Indonesia
  • Using network theory to understand disaster governance in Asia - Pacific
  • Social network analysis and crisis leadership
  • Governing climate change adaptation in urban / rural settings as well as agriculture and livestock sectors
  • Seismic culture in Indonesia
  • Global thinkers and theorists on disaster studies
  • Object-oriented ontology and critical disaster/risk studies
  • Disaster policy making and reform in developing countries
  • Governing big-data and complexity methods for disaster risk reduction
  • Disaster and religion
  • Politics of Crisis and disaster communication 
  • Cultural institutionalism and disasters


Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Institutional Vulnerability and Governance of Disaster Risk Reduction: Macro, Meso and Micro Scale Assessment, Rheinische-Friedrich-Wilhelm Universität Bonn

Jul 2007Mar 2011

Award Date: 1 Mar 2011

Master, MSc Environment and International Development, University of East Anglia

Aug 2004Sept 2005

Award Date: 30 Sept 2007

External positions

Adjunct Research Fellow, NTS, RSIS, Nanyang Technological University

Jun 2016 → …

Senior Advisor, Institute of resource governance and social change

2014 → …

Senior Research Fellow, Resilience Development Initiative

2013 → …

Research Fellow, Earth System Governance Project

2010 → …


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