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Executive Summary

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Research Questions

  1. What challenges does the field of resilience face?
  2. How can the field of resilience better leverage transdisciplinary thinking and jointness?

People are facing an increasing variety and number of stressors, ranging from interpersonal difficulties to environmental hazards and societal forces. Resilience is the process of, capacity for, or outcome of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. The science of resilience has advanced greatly since 2000, but there is an increasing recognition of the need for researchers and practitioners from different disciplines and sectors to work better together on this topic and for a shared agenda for promoting transdisciplinary resilience research.

The report provides a path forward, primarily built on proceedings from a Resilience Roundtable, held in June 2016, and supplemented with relevant literature review. The Resilience Roundtable brought together researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, across disciplines and sectors for a daylong discussion of where and how we can move to a more integrated and cohesive resilience agenda, with attention to critical factors that would motivate more collaborative work. The roundtable identified priorities for advancing a shared resilience agenda and made ten recommendations for implementing it.

Key Findings

Challenges to Advancing the Field of Resilience

  • As the field of resilience grows, the risk from diffusion around scope and intent (i.e., confusion about what resilience is and is not) becomes more challenging.
  • Even with resilience concepts more firmly cemented, communities now struggle with how to transfer resilience frameworks into actual integrative action.
  • Measurement continues to evolve in resilience, but bringing together robust metrics that integrate physical, social and other human impacts adequately is still a relatively emergent area.

Priorities for a Shared Resilience Agenda

  • A resilience framework should be applied across a variety of stresses at the individual, household, community and environmental levels. Community issues, such as health disparities, are partially attributable to the combination of physical, social, and psychological stresses; thus, single-factor interventions and policies will not work.
  • A systems approach to building resilience is required. Adapting current systems to foster resilience requires changes not just to encompass the full continuum of stresses (e.g., acute, chronic) that individuals and communities face, but also to connect and improve the complex range of dynamic and interconnected systems (e.g., health, justice, education) that constitute a community.
  • Resilience must be built by developing a workforce, including strengthening community leadership and educational training programs.

Recommendations

  • Develop a taxonomy of stresses and related policy that will support an integrated approach to resilience assessment over the continuums of time (day-to-day and over the long term) and level (individual, family, community). Incorporate community historical knowledge and ideas into data assessment and measurement.
  • Capture resilience data longitudinally from individuals and communities to support the development of complex systems modeling, and pilot test interventions based on that systems modeling.
  • Focus on narratives, storytelling, and digital media to increase understanding within and across communities of acute and chronic stress and build a culture of resilience.
  • Develop a community resilience systems map that defines the system boundaries (i.e., key actors and intersection points) and margins of system performance (i.e., thresholds where performance is adversely affected).
  • Identify effective models for inter-organizational and administrative partnerships and return on investment for investing in partnership activities.
  • Identify cutting-edge policies, practices, and plans from across the globe and share them across systems, disciplines, and levels (organization, family, individual).
  • Develop a preliminary set of measures that can begin to benchmark system resilience and capture resilience return on investment.
  • Define and measure the elements of training that will support resilience education.
  • Create structures that support a more collaborative workforce model on behalf of resilience.
  • Identify and promote leadership models to advance resilience orientation.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Resilience Roundtable to Generate Agenda Priorities

  • Chapter Three

    Stresses: A Resilience Framework Should Be Applied Across a Variety of Stresses

  • Chapter Four

    Systems: A Systems Approach to Building Resilience Is Required

  • Chapter Five

    Workforce: Resilience Can Be Built by Strengthening Community Leadership, the Broader Workforce, and Educational Training Programs

  • Chapter Six

    Summary and Next Steps

  • Appendix A

    Approaches and Example Interventions That Address Key Factors Related to Individual and Community Resilience

  • Appendix B

    Summary of Resilience Roundtable Discussion

  • Appendix C

    Meeting Attendee List

  • Appendix D

    Self-Reflection Questions for Individual Readers

This research was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted within RAND Health and RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment (JIE).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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