BOX 1.1

Statement of Task

The objective of the study is to provide the National Science Foundation and other stakeholders with a detailed appraisal of the short- and long-term challenges facing the social science disaster research community and new and emerging opportunities for advancing knowledge in the field and its application for the benefit of society. The study should provide a basis for planning future social science and multidisciplinary research related to natural, technological, and willful disasters in response to challenges and opportunities presented by a changing nation and world.

In order to put future projections into context, the study will initially examine the contributions and accomplishments of the social sciences in the field starting with the creation of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), the program that through NSF has provided much of the support for the social science effort to date. Attention will be given to the contributions of the social sciences to understanding the full range of natural, technological and human-induced disasters that social scientists have studied during the past 25 years since NEHRP was established.

Overall the study will examine the following areas:

  • Social science contributions under NEHRP, both in terms of knowledge creation and utilization.

  • Contributions of the social sciences since the creation of NEHRP to the understanding of natural, technological and human-induced hazards faced by communities in the nation.

  • Challenges posed for the social science disaster research community due to the expectation that, like other relevant disciplines, it become a major partner in integrated hazard and disaster research.

  • Opportunities for bridging the gap between social scientists that study natural disasters and those that investigate technological risks.

  • Likely impact of key societal changes—such as the emergence of new technologies, emphasis on new hazards, and a changing emergency management profession—on how disaster research is done by social scientists in the future, as well as what is studied.

  • Challenges of post-disaster investigations and opportunities to increase their value.

  • Future opportunities for collaborative international research.

  • Opportunities for meeting the challenge of furthering the application of research results.

  • Future workforce needs and opportunities to meet them.

emphases, depending on the types of hazards and disasters studied and research topics related to them. Given the above charge and tasks of the committee, further integration of hazards and disaster research, as depicted by the overlapping circles and two-directional arrows in Figure 1.1, is a fundamental future requirement for the social sciences. Such integration

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