What are the social factors that shape people’s understanding of disaster? What ties communities together and helps them remain strong, cope, and recover? What are the data that help us understand how people support each other during crisis? Dr. Daniel P. Aldrich, full professor of political science and Director of the Security and Resilience Studies Program at Northeastern University and Dr. Robert Soden, assistant professor of computer science at University of Toronto (formerly a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University), each discuss their work on social capital and crisis informatics, respectively. Dr. Aldrich defines social capital as the ties that bind us to other people, argues that these ties are one of our most important resources in a disaster, and explains how physical distancing mitigations during COVID-19 might affect them. Dr. Soden discusses the reemergence of mutual aid during the pandemic, how mutual aid groups are using technology, and mutual aid point of departure for crisis informatics research. Both bring in their research on past disasters in places like Haiti, Nepal, and Japan to contextualize grassroots and policy responses to COVID-19. Together they see the pandemic as a pivotal moment that could shift awareness of Climate Change and bring people into the field of disaster studies. For further reading: Building Resilience: Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery OpenStreetMap
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