Resilience Institute Research


Our research efforts are aimed at (a) facilitating greater disaster risk awareness and reduction and (b) supporting participatory planning processes in emergency planning in Washington State, the Northwest region, and beyond as a strategy for building community resilience.

Institute Research

  • Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (2021): Students in ENVS 476 interviewed tribal staff to develop a 10-year update on the community's Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan. Summer 2021 Institute Interns further worked with the tribe to draft an Agricultural Lands Management Plan and to work with the Protect the Mother Earth Committee on developing community outreach materials around climate change adaptation planning. For information about the Swinomish planning efforts, see the Swimomish Climate change Initiative.  

  • Whatcom County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan (2021): Institute staff worked worked with 11 communities in Whatcom County to update the Whatcom County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for federal approval. Work included developing an update framework and timeline, meeting with communities to support their work, holding public meetings, editing and updating hazard descriptions, developing a new set of hazard and critical infrastructure maps and conducting hazard exposure analysis. To review the plan, see Whatcom County's Natural Hazards Mitigation website.    

    safer schools, resilient communities
    Iggy, the mascot for the Fiji Family
    Disaster Plan digital app helps families
    plan for earthquakes, tsunami, drought, 
    and cyclone.
  • Digital Apps for Disaster Risk Reduction in Fiji (2017-2020): Institute staff worked with technical experts in the Fiji Ministry of Education and Save the Children’s Disaster Risk Reduction specialist, developed two tablet-based apps: 1) for school safety assessment, 2) family disaster planning. Developed a web-based portal to collate data, provide summary reports at household, community, school, and district levels; searchable for evidence-based interventions. For family disaster planning, developed engaging, culturally-attuned, character-based, user-interface. The RiskrApps Fiji Family Safety Plan and RiskrApps School Safety tool is available for download at Google Play, as well as at the Apple's App Store.
  • Whatcom Preparedness (2019): Students in ENVS 476 and Institute staff worked with the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County Sheriff's Office to survey residents to understand their risk awareness, preparedness and community resilience every year.

  • Comprehensive School Safety Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region (2016-2017): Institute staff collaborated with Save the Children-Australia, as part of the Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector, to analyze survey data from 24 Asia-Pacific countries on comprehensive school safety policy and policy implementation. Based upon this analysis, staff developed 24 country-level policy score cards, full and summary reports (including graphic design), and 10 in-depth case studies of policy implementation. Separately, staff wrote a literature review of policy development for school safety intended for practitioners and policy makers. Find the report, webinar, case studies and more on the document database, here.

  • Cascadia Region Earthquake Risk Communication and Coordination Planning (2016-2017): Staff organized and facilitated two regional workshops for physical and social scientists and emergency managers. Reviewed existing plans. Developed and sought feedback on a multi-state, cross-border regional risk communication plan for earthquake forewarning. 
  • Towards Safer School Construction: A Community-Based Approach (2014-2016): Staff identified and interviewed over two dozen experts in the field of community-based school construction and reconstruction from multi-lateral agencies, humanitarian organizations and ministries of education. They then facilitated a global workshop on community-based school construction in Bangkok, Thailand. Based upon the outcomes of the workshop, they drafted guidance, in consultation with steering and reference groups, to articulate best practice for ensuring school facility safety and community capacity building in in hazard-prone locations. Later, staff developed script and storyboards for six, 10-minute films demonstrating the stages of community-based approaches to safer school construction. Staff worked with a videographer to identify and film projects in five countries.  The manual and videos can be found on the Resilience Institute publications page and at the Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector website.
safer schools, resilient communities
Example first page of a school
safety report resulting from a School
Safety Self-Assessment Survey.
  • School Self-Assessment Survey Piloting in Loa People's Democratic Republic (2015-2016): In coordination with Save the Children-Laos and Risk RED, institute staff worked with technical experts in the Ministry of Education and Save the Children Disaster Risk Reduction specialist, developed a tablet-based app for education sector personnel to assess comprehensive school safety. Developed a web-based portal to collate data, provide summary reports at school and district level;  searchable for evidence-based interventions.
  • Post-Earthquake Assessment of School Retrofit Program in Nepal (2015): Institute director led a multi-national team of school safety experts following the 2015 M7.8 Gorkha Earthquake to compare safer school construction programs. The assessment compared technical interventions (retrofits or safe design) in programs that did and did not include social interventions like community outreach and training. The team found that social interventions were crucial to implementing effective school retrofits, ensuring the schools were sufficiently maintained, and building community trust in earthquake risk reduction. The report can be found on the Institute publications page.
  • safer schools, resilient communities
    Student volunteering in the Whatcom
    Unified Emergency Operations Center
    during the Cascadia
    Rising Exercise of 2015.
    Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake and Tsunami Exercise Scenario (2014-2015): Staff reviewed existing research, consulted with experts in field and synthesized impacts of a Mw9 earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Sought technical input and feedback. Designed a 100-page exercise scenario document, including geospatial and tabular representation of impacts, for use in multi-state, federal full-scale emergency response exercise. Students in the Disaster Risk Reduction program participated in the 3-day exercise as volunteers. More information about the exercise can be found on the Washington State Military Department's Emergency Management Division Cascadia Rising page.
  • Tracking Trash: North Olympic Shoreline Marine Debris Baseline Assessment (2012-2013): Staff organized a baseline assessment of debris to identify East Japan Tsunami debris washing up on North Olympic shoreline. Ten students from the Disaster Risk Reduction program participated in debris assessment and two student interns analyzed the data.
  • Washington Seismic Scenario Catalog (2011): Coordinated the development of online geospatial data portal for visualizing existing data on impacts of a dozen earthquakes scenarios for Washington state. Facilitated multiple review workshops with local emergency managers to improve usability of catalog. The work won the 2014 Overall Award of Excellence from the Western States Seismic Policy Council. The work was later integrated into Washington State's Department of Natural Resources Geologic Information Portal and their Seismic Scenarios site.

  • Enhancing Resilience of Small Farms through Scenario Planning (2008-2010): The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded the  Resilience Institute a two-year grant to study small farm resilience when faced with extreme events and rapid changes. 


safer schools, resilient communities
International team from Turkey,
Canada, Nepal, Algeria, the U.K.
and U.S. ready to observe school 
participation in the first ShakeOut. 
  • ShakeOut (2008): In 2008, Southern California held the first-ever ShakeOut, a week of special events featuring the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history. Institute staff and interns partners with Risk RED and developed an only survey targeting schools K-12 completed by 343 schools in the Los Angeles metro region. The survey found that wider participation in school drills was needed, that the principles behind safety messages needed articulating, drills needed realism, and that students with disabilities needed emergency procedures integrated into their individualized learning plans. Institute staff also met with an international team in Southern California to observe and document school participation in the drill. Based upon these observations, the team created some of the early tools to help schools design and implement earthquake drill. The annual ShakeOut drill is now practiced in most US states and several countries. 


Related Research