Issues in Brief, No. 17, October 2010

Complex Natural Disasters and the Role of the University17- IIB cover
By Enrique R. Silva

October 2010 (8 pages)
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What is the potential and future role of the university in disaster mitigation and humanitarian emergencies? The complexity and imminence of disasters and humanitarian emergencies demand multidisciplinary and innovative approaches, as has been seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake. In this brief, Enrique Silva suggests that universities need to harness the wealth of knowledge and interest within and across their institutions to think critically about and work creatively on “natural” disasters, and cites examples of how this effort has begun at Boston University and elsewhere.

Enrique R. Silva is Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the City Planning and Urban Affairs programs at Boston University. His research and teaching focus on urbanization and democratic governance in the Americas, as well as the formation of public sector planning institutions and practices. He is currently engaged in post-earthquake planning efforts in Haiti.