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School principals can help assess community resilience


School principals can help assess community resilience

August 27, 2012Nicholas Munson

School principals are key players in assessing community resilience ? the ability of a community to take meaningful and collective action in the face of a large-scale negative event ? according to a new journal article based on research funded through the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

Published in the new issue of the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, "Assessing Community Resilience on the U.S. Coast Using School Principals as Key Informants" details how school principals are effective in assessing capacities such as social capital, community competence and economic resources, and information and communication as it relates to disaster. The community resilience model used was first put forth by START researcher Fran Norris and her colleagues.

"Understanding the resources that yield community resilience is a critical research challenge and has the potential to inform policies across the homeland community," the authors write in the article.

"Informants other than designated public officials are needed to provide a 'grass-roots' perspective on community resilience."

The research team surveyed school principals in U.S. coastal counties using an expanded version of the Communities Advancing Resilience Toolkit (CART), a framework to systematically assess a community with respect to disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The expanded version, CART-E, was adapted by the research team -- Kathleen Sherrieb, Claudine Louis, Rose Pfefferbaum, Betty Pfefferbaum, Eamon Diab and Norris.

The authors said they hope that the CART survey will be used in the future to measure opinions on community resilience with not just school principals, but other important figures in communities, such as business leaders and politicians. This way, awareness will be increased in communities about their own strengths and weaknesses when planning and preparing for future disasters. The study was based upon work supported by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under an award to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

To view the study, visit http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221242091200009X