Smoke, Fire, Hail… but no Snowflakes: Resilient teaching in the face of disaster

Dr Adam Masters, Centre for Social Research and Methods

There is a lot of talk these days about young people not being as resilient today as they were in the past. I call BS.

In January 2020, before COVID seriously impacted our daily lives, Canberra was engulfed in dust storms, blanketed by bushfire smoke, baked by a heatwave and smashed by a hailstorm. The smoke itself made the nations capital the most polluted city in the world. Not the normal environment for teaching an intensive course to say the least. Despite these challenges, a group of 150 students stuck with the program, attending lectures in person, and switching literally overnight to on-line when hail closed the campus. This session is a case study in how to strategically plan for an uncertain environment to successfully run a course in the face of the apocalypse.

Speaker Bio

Dr Adam Masters is a senior lecturer in criminology for the Centre for Social Research and Methods in RSSS. Adam convenes and teaches courses on corruption, organised crime and genocide. Unfortunately, the COVID recall prevented Adam from fully developing the course “Criminology at the Scene” – a fieldwork course to be delivered in Vienna. Always the optimist, Adam is continuing to plan for this course as a means to connect theory, practice and career opportunities for students. He is currently teaching a special topics course on art crime. He came to the Australian National University following a 24-year career with the Australian government, which included time at the Department of Defence, the Australian Taxation Office, and 18 years with the Australian Federal Police. It was at the AFP College where Adam found his calling in adult education, he left the AFP to teach and research at the ANU.


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