Fall 2007 Environment & Society News Archive

On September 24, 2007, Christine Bevc presented a paper entitled "Working Together: A Social Network Comparison of Interactions Within Urban Area Security Initiative Regions" at Rutgers University as part of a workshop on Computational Methods for Dynamic Interaction Networks sponsored by the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS). This paper identifies similarities across multiple social networks to better understand local preparedness in urban areas around the country.


Leysia Palen, Sarah Vieweg, Jeannette Sutton, Amanda Hughes, and Sophia Liu. 2007. Crisis Informatics: Studying Disaster in a Networked World. Paper presented at the Third International Conference on E-Social Science, October 7-9, 2007, Ann Arbor, Michigan. www.ess.si.umich.edu

Abstract: Serious crises and disasters have micro and macro sociological arrangements that differ from routine situations, as the field of disaster studies has described over its 100-year history. With increasingly pervasive information and communications technology (ICT) and a changing political arena where terrorism is perceived as a major threat, the attention to crisis is high. Some of these new features of social life have created real change in the sociology of disaster that we are only beginning to understand. However, much of what might seem to be new is not; rather ICT makes some behaviors more visible, in particular first response and altruistic activities. Even so, with each new crisis event, the calls for technological solutions and policy change come fast and furious, often in absence of empirical research. Our lab is establishing an area of sociologically informed research and ICT development that we call crisis informatics. Here, we report on some of the challenges and findings when conducting empirical study where the subject of attention is disperse, emergent and increasingly expanding through on-line arenas. We specifically consider the challenge of studying citizen-side information generation and dissemination activities during the April 16, 2007 crisis at Virginia Tech, which we have investigated both on-site and on-line.

Jeannette Sutton is the research coordinator at the Hazards Center and Leysia Palen is a faculty affiliate.


This fall, the Natural Hazards Center welcomed:

RoseMarie Perez Foster is a research and clinical psychologist who is a Visiting Scholar with Environment and Society and the Natural Hazards Center. Her previous appointments at the New York University School of Social Work and New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, focused on immigrant mental health and the interface between pre-migration traumatic exposures and host country adjustment. Her current investigation of Chernobyl disaster survivors from the former Soviet Union explores the impact of long-term post disaster psychological sequelae. RoseMarie received her PhD in psychology from St. John's University and post-doctoral training at NYU. She is on the international roster of Fulbright senior specialists in mental health and a recipient of the Frantz Fanon Award for contributions to the immigrant mental health and racial issues literature.

Brandi Gilbert is a PhD student in the department of sociology at the University of Colorado. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a minor in Spanish studies. She is currently working on the Bay Area Disaster Preparedness Initiative project at the Natural Hazards Center. Her research interests are the role of educational, community, and religious organizations in disaster preparedness and recovery initiatives.

Alexandra (Ali) Jordan is a graduate student in the department of sociology's PhD program. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science, with an emphasis on terrorism and genocide, at the University of Southern California. Before coming to the University of Colorado, Ali worked for the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness as a government contractor. She is currently working on the Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism (START) project at the Natural Hazards Center. She is also interested in perceptions of risk, community resilience, terrorism, and using GIS as a tool for analysis in disaster research.

Liesel A. Ritchie holds joint appointments with the University of Colorado's Natural Hazards Center and the Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University. Her dissertation on social impacts of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was the first study to examine the relationship between technological disasters and social capital. In 2005, she spearheaded efforts to establish an American Evaluation Association topical interest group on Disaster and Emergency Management Evaluation and is currently chair of that group. Liesel is currently studying tsunami awareness and preparedness in Alaska through a National Science Foundation grant. She recently led a study of three New Orleans communities hit by tornadoes in February 2007, and she has also been involved with evaluation of long-term recovery organization responses to disasters, as well as studies of social impacts of Hurricane Katrina. She will be working on the Bay Area Disaster Preparedness Initiative project at the Natural Hazards Center.


Environment and Society Water Activities ~ John Wiener made several presentations over the last year (2007), at the Colorado Water Congress, the US Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) National Water Program annual meeting, and the Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop, and Universities Council on Water Resources. He also contributed to the Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance Handbook (a guide to weather and climate information), confirming his taste for glamourous venues and associations. In ongoing work, John is pleased to serve as an advisor and participant in the Water Transfers Guidelines Committee of the new Arkansas Basin Roundtable, after serving on three of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative Technical Roundtables (reported out November 2007). The inquiries and presentations center on new water leasing instead of permanent sales and the various issues and opportunities presented by the changes, currently focusing on anticipation of problems in farm management, socio-economic impacts, and biological issues of change in the hybrid ecology. Funded research with NOAA support will include further cooperation with NCAR scientist Dr. David Yates in modeling the new forms of transfer, and continuing collaboration with Chuck Howe on water transfers. Work has also been proposed to the USDA and the State.


Governor Bill Ritter held a reception at the NCAR Mesa Lab on Monday, November 26th, to honor the 20 Colorado scientists who had participated in the activities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which had been a co- recipient with Al Gore of the Nobel Peace Prize. Scientists from the University of Colorado, NCAR and NOAA were in the honoree group. Chuck Howe of the E&S Program in IBS and Professor Emeritus of Economics was among those honored for his role as a lead author in the Third Assessment Report of five years ago.

An article about the scientists and the award appeared in the Rocky Mountain News, November 27. Here is a copy of the cover photo.