better, with three participating in the first Enabling Project and five in the second.
The mentoring the fellows receive from core hazards and disaster researchers puts them rather quickly on the track to join the ranks of the social science hazards and disaster research workforce. If the program is continued by NSF, a more focused strategy should be developed to overcome constraints on the inclusion of promising minority scholars. At a minimum, collaboration with the few minority researchers in the field and minority-serving institutions should be part of the enabling strategy. Additionally, focused efforts should be made to boost the level of participation of junior women faculty in the program, increasing their numbers above those seen in the first two Enabling Projects.
Recommendation 9.7: Stakeholders in government, academia, professional societies, and the private sector should be open to exploring a variety of innovative approaches for developing the future social science hazards and disaster research workforce.
NSF’s Enabling Projects offer the lesson that alternative educational paradigms provide novel opportunities for developing the social science hazards and disaster research workforce. All learning in preparation for joining the field and shoring up existing skills does not take place in the classroom. Student chapters for aspiring practitioners in professional associations and continuing education activities come immediately to mind. Both of these tools have been used by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI)—in the first instance, to recruit the next generation of earthquake engineers and, in the second, to increase the expertise of the existing generation and related professionals. Various types of internships in hazards-related government agencies and professional associations also warrant consideration as further means of providing valuable experience for future workforce members. Internships provide benefits to both the interns and their host organizations. Finally, social science professional organizations should give increased emphasis to workforce development at their workshops and conferences. By being “student friendly,” such meetings can become valuable recruitment opportunities. More meeting organizers should follow the lead of the Natural Hazards Center and the Hazards Specialty Group, discussed above, both of which have workshop orientations for students and organize special sessions at which students can present their work and forge networks with each other as well as with senior professionals in the field.