Social Science for Climate Change
Susan Moser

Resilience to Disasters and Global Change in Rural Communities


Resilience is a measure of the capacity to deal with and bounce backfromdisturbancesandshocks,the ability to adapt to change, and the ability to be proactive, forward-looking and self-determiningin creating a desirable future. Theidea of resilience has many intellectual roots; I drawon thisdiverse literatureand conduct empirical research to better understand particularly the socialfactors that foster resilience.

In one of my studies, I prepared a report for the Oak Ridge NationalLaboratory and its Community and Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI) synthesizing social science research on resilience relevant to confronting global environmental change. As a member of CARRI’s Scientific Advisory Committee I am helping to develop a Common Framework that will guide nationwide efforts in building community and regional resilience to disasters and global change.

floodI also co-lead an empirical study with Yellow Wood Associates for the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, analyzing resilience in forest-reliant rural communities around the country. Rural communities in the U.S. experience a variety of stresses, including successive waves of economic restructuring, demographic shifts, socio-cultural and political transformations, short-term environmental disasters and long-term changes such as climate change.

Our project assessed communities’ resources and infrastructure, as well as community members’ perceptions about their assets and wealth, in an effort to understand why some communities are able to withstand multiple stressors, while others collapse.

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