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Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences

Disaster Resilience for Rural Communities  (DRRC)

Name Email Phone Room
Robert  E. O'Connor (703) 292-7263   
Dennis  E. Wenger (703) 292-8606   


Communities and their residents in the United States experience droughts, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions as well as accidents at facilities that handle dangerous materials such as explosive chemicals. These phenomena will continue, but their consequences need not be disastrous if communities and people reduce their vulnerabilities and increase their resilience. There is much research on vulnerability and resilience in urban communities, but much less about how rural communities and their residents are responding to natural and man-made hazards. The long term goal of this program is to advance basic research in engineering and in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences on enhancing disaster resilience in rural communities.

Priorities for Research Projects:

Applicants must address at least one of the following topics, or a combination, in terms of the vulnerabilities and resilience of rural communities to natural hazards or risks from accidents at facilities such as chemical plants (This competition will not support terrorism research.):

  1. Hazard mitigation practices of rural communities;
  2. Hazard preparedness and emergency response in rural communities; or
  3. Disaster recovery in rural communities.

Although applications on any of the topics identified above will be considered, the following are a few examples of potential emphases for research in rural communities:

  • Measuring vulnerability and resilience, their causes and consequences;
  • The role of markets, especially agricultural and labor, in understanding vulnerability and resilience;
  • Vulnerability and resilience at the individual, group, and community scales;
  • The role of culture, complexity, and social networks in vulnerability and resilience;
  • Intergovernmental relations in hazard and disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery;
  • Role of forces and organizations from outside rural communities in the vulnerability and resilience of rural communities;
  • Risk perceptions and behavioral reactions to communications from official and other sources; and
  • Land-use and housing decisions.

Comparative research across cultural and national boundaries will be considered for funding. Multi-institutional and multidisciplinary proposals are encouraged.

This is a joint program between the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE), the NSF's Engineering Directorate (ENG) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). Applicants for this initial competition must submit their proposals to USDA/CSREES via (see the below "Related URLs" section for relative links).