We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Email and Telephone Directory

Staff Profile

Dr Katie Oven, BSc (Hons) 1st Class (Dunelm), MRes (Dunelm), PhD (Dunelm)

Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Geography

Contact Dr Katie Oven (email at


Katie Oven is a Geographer working at the interface between physical and social science. Her interests include disasters and development in the Global South, in particular, the social production of vulnerability and resilience to natural hazards. Katie is engaged in applied research and works closely with a number of government and non-government partners within the UK and internationally. Her research is structured around two key themes:

1. Understanding the vulnerability and resilience of communities to geophysical hazards

Katie’s doctoral research investigated the vulnerability and resilience of rural communities to landslides and debris flows in the Nepal Himalaya. The study examined local perceptions and understandings of mass movement hazards and the factors giving rise to the occupation of landslide prone areas. The research highlighted the impact of road construction which was seen to exacerbate slope instability and lead to changes in settlement patterns and subsequent exposure to landslide hazard. Katie’s findings led her to reappraise the role of poverty as the primary factor driving the occupation of landslide prone areas and to recognise the role of household agency and decision-making in response to a multitude of hazards and risks households face. Since completing her PhD, Katie has expanded her research in this field through an EPSRC-funded project investigating the vulnerability and resilience of older people, and the built infrastructure supporting their care, to heatwaves, coldwaves and floods in the UK.

2. Inter/multi/trans-disciplinary approaches to disaster risk reduction

Despite significant developments in the scientific understanding of geophysical hazards, many lower and middle income countries are yet to see a corresponding reduction in fatalities on the ground. This raises important questions regarding how science is being communicated to, and used by, governments, NGOs and communities at risk; and the practical application of science on the ground. Building on a pilot study undertaken in Nepal examining existing capacity and resilience at the local level and the potential contribution of outside science in community based DRR, Katie’s research as part of the NERC/ESRC-funded ‘Earthquakes without Frontiers Project’ is exploring these questions from the community to the national level in the case study countries of Nepal, Bihar State (India), China and Kazakhstan.

Research Projects

Department of Geography

  • Built Infrastructure for Older People’s Care in Conditions of Climate Change (BIOPICCC)
  • Community Earthquake Disaster Risk Reduction in China (CEDRRiC)

Department of Sociology

  • Built Infrastructure for Older People’s Care in Conditions of Climate Change (BIOPICCC)

Research Interests

  • Vulnerability and resilience
  • Community based disaster risk reduction
  • Disaster risk governance
  • Inter/multi/transdisciplinarity

Selected Publications

Chapter in book

  • Oven, K.J. (Accepted). Natural Hazards Governance in Nepal. In Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Natural Hazards Governance. Gerber, B.J.
  • Oven, K.J., Wistow, J. & Curtis, S.E. (Accepted). Older people and climate change: the social and physical nexus of vulnerability and resilience to extreme weather in urban and rural settings in England. In People and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation, and Social Justice. Mason, L.R. & Rigg, J. Oxford University Press USA.
  • Curtis, S.E., Dominelli, L., Oven, K. & Wistow, J. (2018). The challenge of maintaining continuity in health and social care during extreme weather events: cross sectoral and transdisciplinary approaches. In The Routledge Handbook of Green Social Work. Dominelli, L. Routledge.
  • Davies, S.R., Cook, B.R. & Oven, K.J. (2012). ‘Risk’ in field research. In Critical Risk Research: Practices, Politics and Ethics. Lane, S.N. & Kearns, M. Wiley-Blackwell. 59-75.
  • Oven, K.J., Petley, D.N., Rigg, J.R, Dunn, C.E. & Rosser, N.J. (2008). Landscape, livelihoods and risk: A study of community vulnerability to landslide events in Central Nepal. In Climate change and disaster risk reduction. Aryal, K.R. & Gadema, Z. Disaster and Development Centre, School of Applied Science, Northumbria University: 94-102.

Journal Article


Working Paper

Show all publications


Selected Grants

  • 2017: Earthquake triggered landsliding in Nepal: NERC / DFID SHEAR
  • 2017: Harnessing 'citizen science' to reinforce resilience to environmental disasters
  • 2017: Improving the production, communication and use of scientific information in disaster preparedness, response and recovery: UK-DFID, Research Policy Fund
  • 2016: Community earthquake disaster risk reduction in China (CEDRRiC): Integrating local and scientific knowledge for planning and preparedness: NERC/ESRC/NSFC Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards in China
  • 2016: Review of the Nine Minimum Characteristics of A Disaster Resilient Community in Nepal (£76160.00 from Department for International Development)
  • 2012: Earthquakes without Frontiers (EwF): A partnership for increasing resilience to seismic hazards in the continents: NERC/ESRC Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards Programme
  • 2010: Building rural resilience in seismically active areas: NERC/ESRC Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards Programme