In March of 2017, Northeastern University launched a new interdisciplinary initiative, the Global Resilience Institute (GRI). GRI is a university-wide research and educational effort to advance the resilience of individuals, communities, economies and societies around the world by strengthening their capacity to adapt to an increasingly turbulent world. Its key mission is to develop and deploy practical tools, applications and skills to help effectively respond to human-made and naturally-occurring disruptions and disasters.
GRI’s Founding Director is Northeastern professor Stephen Flynn. In his Director’s Welcome web page, Flynn writes that “Building resilience within and across multiple levels, from individual to societal, requires a comprehensive effort that matches the complexity of the increasingly interdependent systems and networks we all rely on… Our aim is to serve as both a channel and a catalyst for experts in industry, academia, and government to collaborate on solving the world’s most pressing resilience challenges. These include both slowly emerging disruptions as well as shocks and sudden disasters.”
Most everyone agrees that dealing with our increasingly turbulent, complex world us requires significant enhancements to the resilience of our societies and systems. But, five critical barriers stand in the way:
- Widespread risk illiteracy and a limited understanding of the new dependencies and interdependencies that pervade our more connected lives;
- Inadequate designs for embedding resilience into systems, networks, and infrastructure at multiple levels;
- Pervasive economic disincentives for investing in proven resilience measures;
- Inadequate governance frameworks and policy guidance to foster resilience; and
- A lack of adequate training and education to support the development and implementation of comprehensive capabilities for advancing resilience.