Head Shot

Thomas Birkland

Thomas Birkland is the William T. Kretzer Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University, as well as the associate dean for Research and Engagement in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He has studied the politics of natural hazards and technological accidents for more than 20 years.

Before joining NC State, Birkland was an associate professor of public administration in the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy SUNY-Albany. In 2006, Birkland was the program director for the Infrastructure Management and Hazard Response Program at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Birkland is the author of two books and several articles on the public policy aspects of disasters. His 2006 book Lessons of Disaster is a follow up to his 1997 book, After Disaster. He is currently the editor of the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters and is series editor for Springer's series on "Environmental Hazards," for which he invites proposals for books and edited volumes.

In 2009-2010 Birkland led the third iteration of the NSF-funded project, “Enabling the Next Generation of Hazards and Disasters Researchers,” designed to attract young and enthusiastic scholars to disasters and hazards research. He is currently working to refine "focusing event" theory, including understanding why some "big" events gain attention, why others do not, and why events sometimes do and sometimes do not yield policy change.

Earlier this month, Birkland led an NSF-funded workshop on "Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities."

Participating in session:

Does Anybody Actually Use Disaster Research