The Disaster Research Unit (DRU) of the Freie Universität Berlin is a sociological and ethnological research institution specialising in interdisciplinary research into disasters. The DRU's body of work encompasses the entire "disaster cycle": from its inception, its progression, into its after-math and the associated reconstruction and coping. This research topically breaks down into risk perception, risk reduction, disaster prevention, preparation, warning and disaster behaviour, all the way to
disaster coping and sustainable reconstruction for industrialised nations as well as the so-called "Global South". In addition to this, the DRU engages in social scientific and humanities basic research alongside other applied research and consulting.
In all of this, the cultural and social aspects form the core pillar of the DRUs work. As the DRU maintains, disasters must be considered and understood within their cultural and societal contexts. For example, extreme weather situations only become risks when they collide with societal and cultural understandings, behaviours, and institutions.