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Penn IUR: New International Disaster Recovery Initiative
September 15, 2009, Volume 56, No. 03

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) continues its work in global disaster recovery in a new initiative, Managing Disaster Recovery, An International Perspective. Led by Edward J. Blakeley, former executive director of Recovery Management, New Orleans and now Honorary Professor in Urban Policy, United States Study Centre, University of Sydney, the project will convene practitioners and scholars from Australia, Japan, and the US to discuss rebuilding urban places after a natural or manmade disaster. While over the past few years, Japan, the US, and Pacific Rim nations have suffered major man-made (the Bali Bombing, the Sarasin Poisoning, 9/11) and natural (Katrina, tsunamis, earthquakes) disasters, little information about successful recovery and prevention has been shared among professionals. This project will begin to remedy the gap.

The first meeting of the “Managing Disaster Recovery” project will be in New York, October 26-28, 2009. The group will focus on the United States experiences—World Trade Center attack, Hurricane Katrina—as well as general management and rebuilding principles. Additional meetings will be held in Tokyo, Japan in April 2010 and in Melbourne, Australia in September 2011.

The group will publish the results in Managing Disaster Recovery: International Policy and Practice, a volume co-edited by Professor Blakely, Roland Anglin, Faculty Fellow and Executive Director of the Initiative for Regional and Community Transformation, Rutgers University, and Eugénie L. Birch, Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research and Education, University of Pennsylvania, and Co-Director, Penn IUR. Managing Disaster Recovery, the first practical guide to disaster recovery relief, will provide materials, ideas and cases from practice to serve as a basic reference for practitioners.

“Managing Disaster” has a core group of leaders who will be joined by disaster management experts in each locale.

“Managing Disaster Recovery” is the most recent of a series of rebuilding projects Penn IUR has undertaken. Prompted by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, in February 2006 Penn IUR hosted an interactive symposium on rebuilding cities and their environs after disaster that brought together leading national experts to address the broader implications of events such as Hurricane Katrina for cities across the nation. Penn IUR Co-Directors, Eugénie L. Birch and Susan M. Wachter, published the results in Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006).

In the past two years, Penn’s Office of the Provost has sponsored an ongoing project, Penn in the Gulf, co-directed by Richard Gelles, Dean, Social Policy & Practice; John Dilulio, Professor of Political Science; and Professor Birch that enabled undergraduates and graduate students to collaborate on recovery projects in Louisiana and Mississippi. The effort concluded with a symposium on university contributions to disaster recovery whose findings will be published by Penn Press.

For more information about “Managing Disaster Recovery” contact Laura Crommelin, Research Assistant for “Managing Disaster Recovery,” at laura@crommelin.com or Maritza E. Mercado, Project Manager, Penn IUR at mercado@alumni.upenn.edu.


Almanac - September 15, 2009, Volume 56, No. 03