Resilience Institute (RI)

About the Institute

The Resilience Institute is part of Western Washington University's College of the Environment. It facilitates scholarship, education, and practice on reducing social and physical vulnerability to natural hazards. Hazards like earthquakes, floods, climate change, hurricanes, and landslides can have devastating impacts on communities, causing deaths, injuries, destruction of property, and the fraying of social connections. Furthermore, they can create and expand social inequality.

At the Resilience Institute, we believe disasters are not inevitable. 

We seeks to foster equitable, inclusive and resilient communities in Washington state and its interdependent global communities. We do so by promoting community-based planning and decision-making as a way to minimize loss and enhance recovery from disasters. Such community-based processes need to be attuned to both our dynamic natural environment and to social and environment justice.

We define resilient communities as one that maintains services and livelihoods after environmental hazard events. If services and livelihoods are disrupted, recovery occurs rapidly, with minimal social disruption, and results in a new, more equitable, condition for all members of a community.

The Resilience Institute was established as a research and development component of Western Washington University's undergraduate minor in Disaster Risk Reduction and emphasis in Environmental Justice and Community Resilience.

Our efforts are aimed at developing a research agenda to

  • facilitate greater disaster risk awareness and reduction,
  • support participatory disaster risk reduction processes in locally, regionally, and internationally,
  • provide students and recent graduates with opportunities to apply their learning and support community needs. 

Such work is part of a wider strategy for building community resilience.