Our Vision and Mission

Vision: We envision a just and equitable world where knowledge is applied to ensure that humans live in harmony with nature.

Mission: We are the National Science Foundation's designated information clearinghouse for the societal dimensions of hazards and disasters. We are dedicated to reducing disaster harm by:

  • Translating and sharing hazards and disaster research and information;
  • Building connections between researchers, nonprofit and private sector professionals, the media, policy makers, and local, state, and federal officials;
  • Advancing social science and interdisciplinary knowledge, with a special emphasis on the most vulnerable populations and places; and
  • Training and mentoring a diverse next generation of hazards and disaster professionals.

Every day, we work to empower a culture where all people are educated and inspired to take positive action to mitigate hazards losses and to build stronger communities.

A Brief History: The Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center was founded in 1976, in response to the publication of the landmark Assessment of Natural Hazards Research in the United States (White and Haas, 1975). Among the recommendations included in what would come to be known as the First Assessment, was that a national information clearinghouse be created to compile and share information as well as to connect academic hazards and disaster research, emergency management, and policy communities. Shortly after the First Assessment was published, Gilbert White, who was the primary author of the work, led the charge to do just that. He and his wife Anne—along with a small group of committed staff and students—began what is today’s Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The Center has been led by five directors over the years, who have involved teams of professional staff, research associates, graduate students, and undergraduate students who contribute to the vision and mission of the center. While the projects that the Center has initiated and the publications that we have produced have evolved, our focus on reducing the harm and suffering from disasters through applying new knowledge has remained constant.

21st Century Purpose: The Natural Hazards Center remains committed to creating a center of gravity for the hazards and disaster community. We care deeply about facilitating scientific and practice-oriented connections because we recognize that we are all living at risk, we are all interconnected, and we all have a role to play in effectively responding to 21st century social and environmental challenges. Everything we do at the Center is informed by a justice and equity approach, and our core values are focused around our commitment to human dignity, collective well-being, scientific understanding, sustainable hazards mitigation, and environmental stewardship.

Who We Are: Our Natural Hazards Center team currently includes a director, deputy administrator, professional staff, research associates, a postdoctoral scholar, graduate student research assistants, and undergraduate research assistants. More than twenty tenured or tenure-track faculty members and advanced graduate students in the University of Colorado system have joined the Center as research affiliates. We regularly host visiting researchers and practitioners as well. The work of the Center is guided by an advisory committee made up of partners from the public and private sectors and academia. To actualize our vision and mission and to fulfill our organizational purpose, we work closely with a variety of people, decision-makers, and organizations.

Audience Map

Funding Support: The Center is funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI), Program on Humans, Disasters, and the Built Environment (HDBE) (Award #1635593) with curent and past supplemental support from:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Integrated Drought Information System (NOAA-NIDIS),
  • NOAA Weather Program Office (NOAA-WPO),
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS-ASPR),
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

In addition, Center faculty and researchers have contracts and grants from a variety of other federal agencies and nonprofit organizations.