The value of physical science in mitigating the effects of environmental hazards is well acknowledged. Less acknowledged are the cultural influences affecting adoption of disaster risk reduction strategies, that is what influence ‘culture’ has upon hazard and risk. This paper explores the need to consider ‘culture’ within disaster risk reduction and cross disciplinary boundaries through four key questions: (a) How relevant is ‘culture’ to disaster risk reduction? (b) How can we engage with different cultures? (c) How can local knowledge be accessed and utilized? (d) How can local and scientific knowledge be integrated for the benefit of disaster risk reduction? The questions are answered through drawing upon case study snapshots from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, USA and the Maldives that explore geological-related hazard phenomena, including earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, and their effects within communities. Challenges and ways forward for ensuring the integration of cultural considerations into risk reduction and putting research into practice and practice into research are identified.