Social Vulnerability and Resilience to Natural Disasters

(February 2011) Susan Cutter is a distinguished professor of geography at the University of South Carolina where she directs the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute. Cutter researches what makes people and the places where they live vulnerable to extreme events such as hurricanes or tornadoes, and how vulnerability and resilience are measured, monitored, and assessed. She has led field studies following disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States. Cutter serves on many national advisory boards and committees including those of National Research Council, the National Science Foundation, and the Natural Hazards Center. She is also a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report Chapter “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.”

In this interview, Cutter discusses disaster vulnerability and resilience, how these are measured, and how their measurement helps inform disaster preparedness and recovery.