Professor David Sanderson

Professor David Sanderson


PhD (poverty, vulnerability and urban livelihoods), Postgraduate Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education, Master of Science Degree (MSc), Development Practice, Graduate Diploma (Architecture), Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honours (Architecture)

Arts, Design & Architecture
School of Built Environment

David is the Inaugural Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture and has 30 years' experience working across the world in development and emergencies. From 1994-98 David was a Project Manager at the Oxford Centre for Disaster Studies. David worked for eight years for the NGO CARE International UK, as head of policy and subsequently Regional Manager for southern and west Africa. From 2006-2013 David was Director of CENDEP, a centre at Oxford Brookes University focusing on development and emergencies.

Between 2013-14 he was a full time Visiting Professor at Harvard University, where he taught a course, 'Design for urban disaster', and from 2014-2015 was a Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).  

David has published articles and papers concerning urban livelihoods, shelter and disaster risk reduction. He has carried out a number of assignments for NGOs and donors across the world, and in recent years has led post-disaster reviews in Haiti, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, the Philippines and Nepal. He was editor of the 2016 IFRC World Disasters Report and the 2019 Urban Humanitarian Response Good Practice Review for OD/ALNAP. David is currently working with several councils in Australia concerning bushfire recovery; he also currently leads UNSW's Institute for Global Development.

David was trained in architecture and holds a Masters degree in Development Practice and a PhD in urban livelihoods and vulnerability.

David has undertaken assignments for the Qatar Foundation, IFRC, Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance (ALNAP), Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), European Commission, Humanitarian Coalition (HC), Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), DFID, USAID, World Bank (EDI Section), UNDP/UNDESA, UN-Habitat, UNHCR, British Council, Christian Aid, Habitat For Humanity, CARE Bangladesh, Tear Fund, Save the Children, Oxfam GB, Islamic Relief, Register of Engineers for Disaster Response (REDR) Canada, World Vision International, LSE Public Policy Group, Mott Foundation, Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Action (ELRHA) and the ACT Alliance.

Currently external positions:

  • Collaborating Professor, Universitat de Catalunya, since 2020
  • Technical Expert, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative since 2017
  • Academic member, Steering Group, Global Alliance for Urban Crises (GAUC) 2017-19
  • Member, UNISDR Asia Science, Technology and Academia Advisory Group (ASTAAG) 2016-19
  • International Advisory Group member, Project for the study of the 21st century (PS21) since 2015
  • Board member, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) 2014-17
  • Steering Committee member, ELRHA since 2014
  • Chair, Funding Committee, Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) since 2014; member since 2011
  • Member, Humanitarian Innovations Project Advisory Board, Oxford University since 2012
  • Visiting professor, Université Paris-Est Créteil, France since 2011
  • Co-Editor, PLoS: Disasters Journal since 2011.
+61 42 487 1966
Red Centre West Wing


  • International Advisory Group member, Project for the Study of the 21stCentury (PS21), since 2015
  • Member, Board of Directors, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) since 2014
  • Steering Group member, Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) since 2014
  • Member, Humanitarian Innovation Project Advisory Board, Oxford University since 2012
  • Chair, grants panel, Humanitarian Innovations Fund (HIF); member since 2011, chair since Sept 2014
  • Expert Group member, UN-Habitat i-House since 2011
  • Co-Editor, PLoS Currents: Disasters Journal since 2011
  • Visiting professor, Université Paris-Est Créteil, France since 2010
  • Editorial board member, Jamba Journal of disaster risk studies since 2010 and International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development since 2009
  • Programme Committee member, CARE International UK, 2006-2013
  • Annual courses lecturer at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative since 2013, Escuela de Organización Industrial (EOI), Madrid since 2011, Universita della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano since 2010 and Université Paris-Est Créteil since 2010.