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The Rhetoric of Resilience- of What, to What, and for Whom?
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The Rhetoric of Resilience- of What, to What, and for Whom?

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Presented at the Science & Resilience Institute @ Jamaica Bay

Presented at the Science & Resilience Institute @ Jamaica Bay

Published in: Environment

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  • 1. The Rhetoric of Resilience- of What, to What, and for Whom? Keith G. Tidball, Ph.D. Cornell University
  • 2. Resilience is…?
  • 3. Resilience is…?
  • 4. Resilience is a better buzz word than sustainability* • Resilience implies action -- “building resilience.” • To be resilient suggests an inner toughness: the strength, as its etymology tells us, to “jump back” to a previous state. • Sustainability - suggests a defensive posture: a desire to stay the same, to resist (normatively negative) change, without the attractive ability to push back against change and win out. • Resilience = measure of risk, while sustainability suggests that systems are set * See Andrew McMurry for more on this topic
  • 5. Why operationalize? • The importance of defining technical terms is widely accepted in science. A failure to define technical terms unambiguously leads to two main problems (Hempel, 1952, Hempel, 1966, Murphy and Noon, 1991 and Hull et al., 2003). • First, theories that rely on a specific term without defining it cannot be readily tested. • Second, communication is difficult; agreements based on certain terms are illusory if different stakeholders have a different comprehension of the term's meaning. • Thus Murphy and Noon (1991) call for providing clear definitions for crucial terminology in legislation, standards, and guidelines.
  • 6. What will we ultimately mean by resilience in SRI@JB • Resilience of WHAT? • What system, systems, or system of systems? • At what scale(s)? • Resilience of “X” to WHAT perturbation? • Magnitude? • Frequency? • Resilience of what, to what, for WHOM? • As experienced by individuals? • As experienced by dominant social groups? • As experienced by other life-forms? • Choices? Normative definitions?
  • 7. What is resilience to you? Group Exercise • Take 4 “sticky notes” • In the context of SRI@JB, – Resilience of what? – To what? – For whom? – 1-2 sentence “in a nutshell” answer what does resilience in Jamaica Bay look like?
  • 8. Engineering Socio- cultural Ecological Resilience domains
  • 9. Engineering … considers systems to exist close to a stable steady-state. Engineering resilience is the ability to return to the steady state following a perturbation (Pimm,1984; O’Neill et al., 1986; Tilman and Downing, 1994; Tilman, 1996). This idea of disturbance away from and return to a stable state is at the center of economic theory as well (Varian, 1992; Kamien and Schwartz, 1991).
  • 10. Ecological ….ecological resilience (Walker et al., 1969; Holling, 1996), emphasizes conditions far from any stable steady-state, where instabilities can flip a system into another regime of behavior, i.e., to another stability domain (Holling, 1973). In this case, resilience is measured by the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed before the system redefines its structure by changing the variables and processes that control behavior.
  • 11. Socio- cultural • Social system resilience is related in some (still undefined) way to the resilience of the ecological systems on which social systems depend. This is most clearly exhibited within social systems that are dependent on a single ecosystem or single resource (Adger 2000). • Community resilience is a measure of the sustained ability of a community to utilize available resources to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations. Organizations like RAND have implemented and evaluated community resilience- building activities worldwide in sectors such as public health and emergency preparedness, infrastructure protection, and the development of economic recovery programs. • Individual resilience refers to the processes of, capacity for, or patterns of positive adaptation during or following exposure to adverse experiences that have the potential to disrupt or destroy the successful functioning or development of the person (Masten et al. 1990, Masten and Obradović 2006).
  • 12. Social-Ecological System Resilience Social-Ecological domain – a comprehensive construct
  • 13. Social -Ecological Systems There are neither natural or pristine systems without people nor social systems without nature. Social and ecological systems are not just linked, or “coupled,” but are truly interconnected and co-evolving across spatial and temporal scales. The concept social-ecological emphasizes the humans-in-the-environment perspective; that earth´s ecosystems, from local areas to the biosphere as a whole, provide the biophysical foundation and ecosystems services for social and economic survival and development. The ecosystems we observe have been shaped by human decision making throughout history and human actions directly and indirectly alter their capacity to sustain societal development.
  • 14. Social-Ecological System Resilience Resilience is the capacity of a system to experience shocks while retaining essentially the same function, structure, feedbacks, and therefore identity (Walker et al. 2006). In a resilient social–ecological system, disturbance has the potential to create opportunity for doing new things, for innovation and for development (Folke 2006).
  • 15. Brian Walker, Senior Research Fellow of the Stockholm Resilience Center
  • 16. Carl Folke, Science Director of the Stockholm Resilience Center
  • 17. Review… (Folke 2006) Comments, questions, discussion…
  • 18. Thank You! Keith G. Tidball, Ph.D. Senior Extension Associate Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University Visiting Scholar, USDA NIFA Associate Director, Cornell Civic Ecology Lab (CEL) Theme Leader, Environmental Dimensions of Human Security New York State Extension Disaster Education Network Coordinator Faculty Fellow, David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future 118 Fernow Hall 607 254 5479 tidball@cornell

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