The Hazards and Disaster Workforce: Preparing to Meet 21st Century Challenges

July 11 to July 14, 2021

The 46th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop will be organized around the theme of The Hazards and Disaster Workforce: Preparing to Meet 21st Century Challenges.

Our ability to reduce disaster risk has always depended on the people who do the work. This includes leaders who set a vision for a more just and sustainable future, researchers who push the boundaries of discovery, and practitioners who help prepare communities for a range of threats.

As climate change accelerates and disaster losses mount, our future depends on fostering a well-trained workforce with strong adaptive capacity. At present, however, it is not clear that we have the people, resources, or institutional structures necessary to address the social roots of risk that turn natural hazards into human catastrophes. This focus on the current status of our field and the future of work is urgent.

Conversations at this year’s Workshop will center around how the workforce we have can support and build the workforce we need. How does the size and composition of the hazards and disaster workforce shape the ability to respond to and recover from extreme events? What sort of mentoring and skill building do researchers, practitioners, and volunteer responders need? What jobs have become obsolete and which need to be filled or created? How can we meet the escalating risks and inequalities of today, while still investing in programs and policies that will reduce future hazards losses?

These are just some of the questions we will pursue as we highlight efforts aimed at cultivating a demographically diverse and highly skilled workforce. We will also explore societal transitions that shape labor demands and carefully consider what gaps exist in hazards workforce development, education, and training. As we take stock of who we are and how we approach our work, we will chart a strategy for the future that ensures we are ready to rise together to meet 21st century challenges.

We hope you will lend your knowledge and experiences to the discussion. You can contribute your ideas related to this year’s theme or other timely topics using the Workshop proposal form. Submissions are due March 29, 2021.

As always, we strive to build a rich program that includes many different perspectives and plenty of opportunities for engagement. We are excited to learn from you as we chart this path together.

Please take care of yourself and others.

Lori Peek, Director
Natural Hazards Center