ResilScience: Art and science of community resilience

“…every science is evolved out of its corresponding art.”

I’ve been doing research on community resilience since about 2001. The funding and guidance for the research — developing simulation modeling methods for representing community resilience — came from MCEER. My first publication [pdf] on the subject, with my mentor Stephanie Chang, came out the same year that the extremely influential article by Bruneau and others (2003), entitled “A Framework to Quantitatively Assess and Enhance the Seismic Resilience of Communities.” It was an exciting transition for me from modeling landslide hazard for the USGS.

In my world, that article sparked a lot of great research and attempts at implementation. Of course there have been many other contributions that lead to a similar spark in sociology, community psychology, GIScience, etc. approaches to community resilience to disasters.

Like I said: exciting stuff.

After more than a decade on this subject though, I’ve realized that the push for tools and methods for assessing community resilience has resulted in a lack of science on the subject. Science requires theory and the enthusiasm to create practical solutions has lead to a devaluing or deemphasis of theory building. I’d go further in saying that there’s a lack of artistry in approaching the study and application of community resilience. The trouble with is captured in Spencer’s quote above. Where are the radical ideas? Where are the flights of fancy about how to represent community resilience? Where are the venues for facilitating and promoting imagination on the subject?

I don’t think we will be satisfied in the tools and methods that are developed for assessing community resilience until we get (back?) to the basics of art and science.

That’s what motivated me to start this–what I call a thought gallery. I want to present radical, exploratory ideas about theory and an art of linking this theory to methods and practice. Of course, I welcome and encourage comments on anything I post. Better yet, I’d welcome full contributions from anyone that finds this pursuit inspiring and worthwhile.

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