Back How well prepared are young people to understand pandemics and natural disasters?

Since the beginning of recorded human history, pandemics and natural disasters have highly impacted upon the historical narratives of mankind. Each time, they remind humans how fragile they are and how limited their knowledge is. Despite this impact, these events are given little attention in history education.
Report Strasbourg, France 1 March 2023
  • Diminuer la taille du texte
  • Augmenter la taille du texte
  • Imprimer la page
  • Imprimer en PDF
How well prepared are young people to understand pandemics and natural disasters?

With the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently the disastrous series of earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, children are faced with live and often raw information about events that seem exceptional and removed from our history. How well prepared are they to understand how such catastrophic events unfold and impact upon societies? What means do history teachers have to teach these topics to students?

Dr Ida Milne, Lecturer in European History, Carlow College St. Patrick’s, Carlow, Ireland, points out the importance of teaching the history of pandemics and natural disasters in this video:

I think that if we had taught and learned about pandemics at all educational levels, then society in general would have been better prepared for what was going to happen during Covid. And we might have reacted faster if, for example, people like politicians have read and learned about pandemics or even police forces, armies as well as medicine had known more – they would have realised much quicker what was going to happen.”

The first thematic report of the Observatory on History Teaching in Europe (OHTE)  analyses how pandemics and natural disasters are taught across different levels of education. It gives a detailed overview of the teaching of the two topics in OHTE’s 16 member states, along with a cross country analysis – combining information provided by educational authorities and by history teachers themselves.

The report refers to important areas of concern such as the inclusion of pandemics and natural disasters in history curricula, teachers’ pedagogical decisions about their teaching, multiperspectival approaches but also the use of scapegoating during these times of crises.

 Full report

  Video of key findings

 Press release

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates !