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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Resilience Collaborative Launches, Broadens Definition of Resilience for Multidisciplinary Research Initiatives

By Brendan O'Hallarn

On a recent summer afternoon, nearly 20 faculty members from five Old Dominion University colleges gathered in a conference room at Perry Library. As attendees introduced themselves, and spoke about research interests, it was clear the meeting featured a diverse group.

There was one unifying trait, however.

"Welcome to the 'new' Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative," said Wie Yusuf, associate professor of public service and chair of the steering committee for the new group.

The faculty members collectively are part of a new group known as the ODU Resilience Collaborative. The idea behind its creation was to expand the original idea of Old Dominion's first foray into coordinated climate change and sea level rise research that was launched by President John R. Broderick in 2010.

Through the Resilience Collaborative, Yusuf said faculty members will look for opportunities to combine their experience and expertise with that of colleagues from across the University. The goal is to launch joint research projects and academic programs to address one of the region's great challenges in new ways, seeking innovative solutions.

"What tends to be surprising to a lot of people is that the Resilience Collaborative is so multidisciplinary," Yusuf said. "That's what I'm really excited about."

In his State of the University address Aug. 24, President Broderick said the Collaborative is part of the University taking a much broader view of the word resilience.

"In fact, I am happy to announce the formation of the ODU Resilience Collaborative, which will expand our research in cybersecurity and health care, while delivering breakthroughs and creative approaches to the challenges facing the world," Broderick said in his remarks.

The Collaborative operates on the scientifically based assumption that sea level rise and recurrent flooding are happening in this and other coastal regions, and forecasts suggest the problems will exacerbate. The scholars of the Resilience Collaborative work in research, education and outreach on critical issues of resilience at the community, regional, national and global levels.

Members of the Resilience Collaborative hosted "Building Resiliency in the Face of Sea Level Rise," a series of public forums, supported in part by an $85,000 grant from the Blue Moon Fund, where residents identified their community's assets and challenges, discussing future actions to address flooding and sea level rise and build resilience.

Yusuf, who was co-principal investigator on that project, said working with fellow faculty members from the College of Arts and Letters; Batten College of Engineering and Technology; and the College of Sciences was a reminder of the power of collaboration. "It made us all step back and think, 'What are our shared priorities? How can we work to address them?'" Yusuf said.

This fall, the efforts of the Resilience Collaborative will accelerate.

Results of a comprehensive community survey of adaptation solutions will be released and Collaborative members will launch a new project, affiliated with the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency, which will take an innovative approach to communicating information about risk and preparedness while incentivizing resilient behavior.

The project will adopt a gaming approach, where players will be rewarded for making smart resilience decisions, such as not driving home at rush hour in the pouring rain or creating a family preparedness plan.

"It's another really good example of looking at these problems in a collaborative way," Yusuf said.

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