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Resilience. Has a nice ring, doesn’t it? It captures that positive sense of thriving in the midst of adversity and unknowns. Yet, resilience can still mean very different things to different people. This leads to many different ideas about how to build and implement resilience in the face of global change.

Project Background Emerging and accelerating impacts due to global change are underlining the growing need for greater community resilience and the critical capacities required to achieve and sustain it. Despite extensive scholarship, experimentation, and early attempts at implementing actions oriented toward resilience, the field is still muddled with contested definitions, competing visions, and confusing debates. The AGCI Resilience Project aims to help foster improved dialogue about resilience and offers a set of core principles from which communities can get started. This work emerges from a 2015 AGCI workshop on the topic, Risk & Resilience in the Face of Global Change. At that workshop, scholars and practitioners working on areas related to resilience and risk management came together to generate ideas that have informed this work moving forward.

Resilience Road Markers: A Series of Ideas for Implementation from Research and Practice

The Resilience Road Markers series of short publications and presentation slides can be downloaded and shared freely. They incorporate input from a diverse community of individuals conducting research on and implementing resilience around the United States. Each fact sheet summarizes a set of key points and provides personal perspectives from practitioners working on resilience. Accompanying each fact sheet is a set of PowerPoint slides that we encourage use of for sharing all or part of in your own presentations. We encourage you to share these resources widely, and incorporate elements from the slide shows into your own presentations and work!

- Fostering Dialogue to Support Community Resilience [Fact Sheet] [Slides]

- The Possibility of Resilience: Guiding Principles for More Resilient and Just Communities [Fact Sheet] [Slides]

Additional insights on this work were published in Climatic Change in 2019 in an article entitled "The turbulent world of resilience: interpretations and themes for transdisciplinary dialogue." This meta-analysis of recent review papers on resilience from all relevant fields highlights key themes emanating from both research and practice. These themes reflect prevalent debates, trends and insights from the thousands of underlying papers. The seven themes are:

  1. the distinction between resilience as a system trait, process, or outcome;
  2. the importance of resilience as a strategy for dealing with uncertainty;
  3. a shift from understanding resilience to active resilience building;
  4. the incorporation of transformation into resilience;
  5. the increasingly normative interpretation of resilience;
  6. the growing emphasis on measuring and evaluating resilience; and
  7. the mounting critiques of the resilience agenda demanding attention.

We discuss each in detail and find that they help explain both why resilience has attracted widespread attention, but also why it is an increasingly contested concept. We offer several steps to engage in productive dialogue across differences in resilience interpretations and conclude that this interand transdisciplinary dialogue is the difficult and necessary work that must be done, if resilience scholarship and practice is to advance in productive ways in the future.

Project Sponsors: The Kresge Foundation, NOAA (via sub award from University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

Project Partner: Susanne Moser Research & Consulting

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