FACING HAZARDS AND DISASTERS
UNDERSTANDING HUMAN DIMENSIONS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON DISASTER RESEARCH IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES: FUTURE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Gary A. Kreps, Chair,
College of William and Mary
Philip R. Berke,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thomas A. Birkland,
University at Albany, State University of New York (until December 31, 2005)
Stephanie E. Chang,
University of British Columbia
Susan L. Cutter,
University of South Carolina
Michael K. Lindell,
Texas A&M University
Robert A. Olson,
Robert Olson Associates, Inc.
Juan M. Ortiz,
Tarrant County, Texas Office of Emergency Management
Kimberly I. Shoaf,
University of California, Los Angeles
John H. Sorensen,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Kathleen J. Tierney,
University of Colorado at Boulder
William A. Wallace,
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Anthony M. Yezer,
George Washington University
National Research Council Staff
William A. Anderson, Study Director,
Division on Earth and Life Studies
Byron Mason, Program Associate,
Division on Earth and Life Studies
Patricia Jones Kershaw, Senior Program Associate,
Division on Earth and Life Studies (until December 2004)
The United States and many other countries throughout the world are vulnerable to a wide variety of natural, technological, and willful hazards and disasters. In this nation, while local decision makers and other stakeholders have the final responsibility for coping with disaster threats, federal agencies have developed science-based activities, including research and applications programs that are intended to further the understanding of such threats and provide a basis for more effective risk reduction efforts in vulnerable communities throughout the country. The National Science Foundation (NSF), sponsor of this study, has been in the forefront in providing support for social science hazards and disaster research, including research carried out through the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), which was established in 1977. Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, that agency also has emerged as a potential major sponsor of social science hazards and disaster research.
Given the changing hazards and disasters landscape in recent years, brought on by such factors as new demographic trends and settlement patterns and the emergence of new kinds of disaster threats discussed in this report, NSF requested that the National Research Council (NRC) conduct an analysis of hazards and disaster research in the social sciences, a research community that is vital to understanding societal responses to natural, technological, and willful threats. In particular, NSF asked the NRC to provide the agency and other stakeholders with an appraisal of the social science contributions to knowledge on hazards and disasters, especially as a
result of NEHRP funding; the challenges facing the social science hazards and disaster research community; and opportunities for advancing knowledge in the field and its application for the benefit of society. The study is expected to provide a basis for planning future social science disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary research and application activities related to the threat of natural, technological, and willful disasters.
In response to this charge, the NRC established the Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences, an ad hoc committee under the Division on Earth and Life Studies. The committee was comprised of experts from various social science disciplines, public health, and emergency management. The committee met six times during the course of the study. As part of the input to the study, the committee reviewed in detail the scientific literature in the field. The committee also benefited from presentations and discussions that took place during two workshops held in conjunction with committee meetings, one in Washington, D.C., at the National Academies’ Keck Center and the other in Irvine, California, at the National Academies’ Beckman Conference Center. Participants in the first workshop included researchers from the multidisciplinary hazards and disaster research community, practitioners, and representatives from various agencies. All participants in the second workshop were practitioners.
The many people who provided input to the committee through oral presentations or in writing are listed in the acknowledgments. On behalf of the committee, I extend appreciation and thanks to all of these individuals for contributing to the study. The committee also extends special appreciation to William A. Anderson, study director for the project, whose substantive knowledge and experience in hazards and disaster research are enormous and whose contributions to the study were essential to its successful completion. Thanks also to Patricia Jones Kershaw, who was senior program associate during part of the study, and especially to Byron Mason, program associate, who provided very effective substantive and logistical support for all phases of the committee’s work. Finally, I wish to thank the members of the committee for devoting substantial time and effort to the project. Their commitment to the field has been matched by their hard work on this committee.
Gary A. Kreps
This report was greatly enhanced by the participants of the three public meetings, including two workshops, held as part of this study. The committee would like to acknowledge the efforts of those who gave presentations at the meetings: James Ament, Michel Bruneau, Caroline Clark, Joseph Coughlin, Penny Culbreth-Graft, Frances Edwards, Joshua M. Epstein, Steven French, Gerard Hoetmer, Eric Holdeman, Howard Kunreuther, Rocky Lopes, Larry Mintier, Jack Moehle, Poki Namkung, Robert O’Connor, Anthony Oliver-Smith, Laura Petonito, Ralph B. Swisher, Roger Tourangeau, Larry Weber, Dennis Wenger, Thomas Wilbanks, and Rae Zimmerman. The committee would also like to acknowledge the written contribution of Thomas E. Drabek.
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Ruzena K. Bajcsy, University of California, Berkeley
Eve Gruntfest, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Peter J. May, University of Washington, Seattle
Dennis S. Mileti, University of Colorado at Boulder
Robert B. Olshansky, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Adam Z. Rose, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
David M. Simpson, University of Louisville, Kentucky
Neil J. Smelser, University of California, Berkeley
Seth A. Stein, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Susan Tubbesing, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Oakland, California
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Enrico L. (Henry) Quarantelli, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, and Carl Wunsch, Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.