Call for Participants for a National Science Foundation Workshop Series

Methods of Disaster Research: Interdisciplinary Approaches

The National Science Foundation, Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events Program, has awarded funding to support two workshops dedicated to the advancement of interdisciplinary disaster research methods. Those interested in applying should read this notice carefully and provide all required application materials as indicated below by no later than Monday, December 19, 2016.


The National Science Foundation adopts the following definition of interdisciplinary research, drawn from a seminal 2004 National Academies report:

“Interdisciplinary research is a mode of research by teams or individuals that integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from two or more disciplines or bodies of specialized knowledge to advance fundamental understanding or to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of research practice” (p. 2).

The field of hazards and disaster research has become more interdisciplinary over the past several decades. This is likely because of the nature of the questions that hazards and disaster researchers often pursue, as well as in response to institutional and funding mechanisms that increasingly require this form of collaboration. These and other factors have resulted in substantial progress in terms of bringing teams together to more holistically address research questions at the interface of multiple disciplines. Yet, there has been less focus on developing interdisciplinary research approaches and methods than there has been on creating interdisciplinary research teams. As the number of interdisciplinary teams and projects has grown, there has been little attempt to systematically document the epistemological, theoretical, and methodological promises and pitfalls associated with explicitly interdisciplinary disaster research. Two upcoming National Science Foundation workshops aimed at advancing the science and practice of interdisciplinary methods for disaster research will address this need.


The central objective of the workshop series is to bring together scholars to advance the science and practice of interdisciplinary research for hazards and disasters. This will be accomplished through two workshops, focused on the following six key areas:

  1. Inventory: What existing and emergent interdisciplinary-specific methods and approaches are used in hazards and disaster research? How do these methods vary across time, context, epistemological approaches, and theoretical approaches to research?

  2. Approach: How are interdisciplinary research teams created and sustained over time? How are interdisciplinary methods developed and codified within a team-based environment?

  3. Opportunities and Challenges: What ethical / methodological / analytical / logistical opportunities, problems, or issues emerge in carrying out interdisciplinary hazards and disaster research across time and space? How are these challenges addressed as a team – theoretically, methodologically, and empirically? How are emergent opportunities leveraged to advance existing and future projects?

  4. Outcomes: What methodological developments or scientific discoveries have emerged as a result of interdisciplinary approaches to disaster research?

  5. Guidance: What practical methodological guidance should be offered to new and existing interdisciplinary teams? What teaching, training, and next generation mentoring needs currently exist? What guidance should be offered to funding agencies regarding establishing programs dedicated to interdisciplinary research? How can advances in interdisciplinary methods for disaster research best be communicated and conveyed to the disaster research community?

  6. The Future: What needs exist in terms of advancing the science and practice of interdisciplinary hazards and disaster research? What approaches are emerging as the most scientifically transformative interdisciplinary methods for advancing the field?

Participant Selection Criteria

Participants will be selected to take part in both workshops based on a combination of the following criteria:

  • Past or current leadership or membership on interdisciplinary research teams dedicated to hazards or disaster research

  • Status as a PI or Co-PI on an interdisciplinary funded project and/or participation in a center or institute that is explicitly interdisciplinary

  • Prior record of publication in the areas on the methodological, epistemological, theoretical, ethical, and/or practical implications of interdisciplinary hazards or disaster research

  • Willingness and demonstrated ability to respond to the key thematic areas of the workshops, as described above

  • Diversity of work across the disaster lifecycle

  • Commitment to prepare for and attend two workshops and to produce a special issue journal article and book chapter as described below

Workshop participants should emphasize how they meet the above selection criteria in their application materials. In addition, individuals will be selected to ensure diversity, which means including participants at different stages in their academic/professional careers and those from a range of disciplinary backgrounds. Members of historically underrepresented groups will also be actively recruited for inclusion in the workshop series.

Workshop Deliverables

The series of two workshops will result in the completion of: (1) a special journal issue of Risk Analysis dedicated to understanding issues involved in framing and organizing interdisciplinary research and (2) an edited book volume focused on developing methodological guidance for interdisciplinary teams. The journal issue and edited volume will be written and organized to reach a broad set of researchers engaged in or interested in disaster research, to educate current and future generations, to encourage ongoing and new discussions of interdisciplinary methods for disaster research, and, ultimately, to advance the field.

Workshop Details

Locations and Dates

The first workshop will be held March 30-31, 2017, at the National Science Foundation, Stafford Place 1, Room 375, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia. Applicants are asked to commit to attend the first workshop on these dates.

The second workshop will be held in the fall of 2017, location to be determined. This workshop will also span two days. Participants at the March 2017 meeting are expected to attend the fall 2017 meeting as well.

Preparation for Workshop 1

Participants will read a collection of short articles about interdisciplinary research in advance of Workshop 1. This will include an overview of different perspectives on interdisciplinary research, which will be compiled by the PI’s and their graduate assistants.

Participants will write a brief (1,000-1,500 word) paper prior to Workshop 1, with the papers focused specifically on answering at least one of the core questions driving the workshops (see pages 1-2 above). The short working papers will be circulated in advance of the first workshop, and will be discussed at Workshop 1. These papers will also form the basis for the Perspectives papers for the special issue of Risk Analysis and will ultimately be expanded into lengthier chapters for the edited volume.

Outcomes and Dissemination of Results for Workshop 1 and 2

Workshop 1: The primary outcome of Workshop 1 will be a special issue of Risk Analysis. The special issue in Risk Analysis will be designed to reach a wide audience and raise the profile of this project, generating increased interest in the edited volume that would come later and encouraging a broader discussion of challenges and opportunities associated with interdisciplinary research within the broader hazards and disaster community.

Workshop 2: The primary outcome of Workshop 2 will be an edited volume. This edited volume will include an introduction and conclusion, a minimum of 10-15 chapters from the core workshop participants, and up to an additional 10 invited chapters as identified based on gaps in knowledge and/or at the suggestion of participants.

How to Apply

If you are interested in participating in this workshop series, please complete this application form by no later than Monday, December 19, 2016. In addition to contact information and commitment to attend the two workshops, it will include:

  1. Application cover page
  2. A 1-page summary of the area of interdisciplinary disaster research that you would like to focus on through the course of the workshop series and as part of the required deliverables.
  3. A 1-page summary of your leadership experience and/or participation in funded interdisciplinary projects and/or publications.
  4. A 2-page CV, including current contact information and highlighting relevant experience.

Application materials should be sent electronically in one message to: Lori Peek ( and Seth Guikema (

Travel Support

Travel related costs for Workshop 1 and Workshop 2 will be available on a limited basis.


Please address questions about the workshop series to:

Lori Peek, Principal Investigator, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado-Boulder (as of January 2017),

Seth Guikema, Principal Investigator, Associate Professor, Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan,

Questions about the National Science Foundation should be addressed to:

David Mendonca, Program Officer, Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events Program, National Science Foundation,