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Vulnerability Group

Who We Are /Mission Statement

The increasing trend in the frequency and severity of hazards and disaster events is an issue of global significance. In addition to the impacts of climate change, rapid urban development in at-risk locations is contributing to a phenomenon of elevated vulnerability for both people and infrastructure. Elevated vulnerability to hazards and disasters comes at a great cost to both social and ecological systems. Moreover, communities that are vulnerable to catastrophic damages from hazards are, by definition, unsustainable.

 In the face of climate change and rapid urbanization, city planners, engineers and policymakers play an important role in shaping the vulnerability and resilience of urban systems. The mission of the Vulnerability research group is to contribute to interdisciplinary scholarship and applied projects on themes of urban vulnerability and resilience. This IGERT research group engages with theoretical frameworks, empirical research and policy related to the vulnerability of physical and social-ecological systems. We draw from our diverse backgrounds in planning, policy, engineering, and health to contribute to the further integration of the concepts of hazards, vulnerability and resilience with the larger sustainability discourse.

Current Research/Projects

Janes, E. Building Resilience Through Planning: An Evaluation of Local Hazard Mitigation Planning in the California Bay Area. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Colorado, Denver.

Past Projects

Thomas, D., Sasson, C., Kreisberg, D., Janes, E., Valley, M., & Newell, S. (2011). Cultural Vulnerability Analysis: Methods for Improving Hospital Disaster Preparedness and Response. Colorado Hospital Association.

Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute Award (PASI): Institute for Integration of Research on Climate Change and Hazards in the Americas; Panama City, Panama:

Jointly supported by NSF and the U.S. Department of Energy, the 2010 PASI addresses the integration of research on climate change and hazards in the Americas. Co-organized by United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the US Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Communication Association (NCA), the goal of the PASI is to create a long-term collaborative network in the Americas and to inform future directions in interdisciplinary research related to climate change, hazards, geographic technology, and communication.

Janes, E., Burton, C., Andreas, D., Ramirez, I., Diaz, R., Laguna, D., Martinez, N. (2010). Climate Change and Hazards: Building Local Resilience. White Paper. Institute for the Integration of Research on Climate Change and Hazards in the Americas. Panama City, Panama and Washington, D.C.

Dhakal, S., Janes, E. (2010). "Governance and institutions for building climate resilient-cities, Epilogue: Perspectives from the 5th Urban Research Symposium." In Cities and Climate Change: Responding to an Urgent Agenda, Daniel Hoornweg, Mila Freire, Marcus J. Lee, Perinaz Bhada-Tata, and Belinda Yuen, eds. Washington, DC: World Bank.


Dr. Deborah Thomas (Geography)​, Enessa Janes (Planning), Josh Sperling (Engineering), Anne Scheerer (Planning)





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