From the Editor

WELCOME TO the Observer's all-hazards issue.

The Natural Hazards Center’s mission is to “advance and communicate knowledge on hazards mitigation and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.” In doing so, we use an all-hazards and interdisciplinary framework—meaning our work focuses on emergencies and disasters caused by all threats, whether natural, technological, or human-caused. Our scope, however, hasn’t always included all hazards. As the Center’s name implies, we once focused more intensively on hazards perceived as acts of nature.

To understand how we have progressed to this all-hazards framework over the years, it is helpful to look at our history. The Natural Hazards Center concept originated from a research project carried out in the early 1970s by geographers, sociologists, and other social scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder. This project, which was led by Gilbert White, involved an extensive analysis of the state of natural hazards research in the United States and had two aims. One was “to provide a more balanced and comprehensive basis for spending taxpayer dollars on hazard reduction programs.” The second was “to be more systematic in identifying research needs related to hazards” (Myers, 1993: 42-43).