facilitating access to and use of disaster data;
coordinating post-disaster reconnaissance efforts of social scientists;
providing consensus statements from the research community to inform public policy;
providing educational materials (i.e., integrating existing materials, developing new ones, and disseminating both), such as Web-based short courses, that can help disseminate social science research findings to a broad range of audiences, including students, investigators new to the field, potential collaborators in other disciplines, and researchers in developing countries;
supporting researchers in developing the expertise they need to successfully engage in interdisciplinary research—for example, through doctoral and post-doctoral opportunities, sabbaticals, career development awards, or formal training (see Pellmar and Eisenberg, 2000:11; for an example, see www.nianet.org); and
catalyzing interdisciplinary collaborations, both within the social sciences and between the social sciences and natural sciences and/or engineering; for example, through convening workshops and symposia.
Core nodes of the network would include existing university-based research centers that are focused on hazards and disaster research (see Chapter 8), those DHS centers of excellence that involve social science research (e.g., the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism), and the new centers recommended by this committee—the Data Center for Social Science Research on Hazards and Disasters (see Chapter 4) and the Center for Modeling, Simulation, and Visualization of Hazards and Disasters (see Chapter 7). However, individual researchers not associated with these existing centers would also have access to this distributed network.
The center would receive core funding from NSF and mission agencies such as DHS, NOAA, and NASA. It would leverage these funds to attract support from state and local governments, as well as international agencies and the private and not-for-profit sectors.
Such a center arrangement would provide several important benefits for social science research on hazards and disasters. First, it would provide a “critical mass” research network. The field is small, characterized by a modest number of core researchers, spread over many disciplines and many institutions, and bolstered by others who are only intermittently involved in hazards research (see Chapter 9). Achieving a critical mass is important for attracting and retaining researchers, as well as catalyzing interdisciplinary collaborations (see, for instance the first and third exemplars above).