Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis


Science, Technology and Society

First Advisor

Jesse Van Gerven

Second Advisor

Elise Edwards


Disasters impact people in many different places around the world. The impact to communities by disasters is shaped by their constructed vulnerability. The goal of this research project was to better understand how the vulnerability and resiliency of different communities was shaped at six different sites across the U.S. and to construct a collection of best practices to raise the resiliency of populations and locations in the face of many different forms of possible disasters in the future. These concepts and conclusions were drawn from internet research of the chosen sites. Phase 1 of the research determined noteworthy sites and gathered details and data on each site to guide recommendations. Phase 2 gathered information by interviewing individuals with credible and meaningful insights to add to the research data. The sites chosen had disaster events that happened recently or were still occurring during the research in order to better understand the current issues disasters pose and to generate more creative and applicable solutions to these issues. Researching these sites provided a better understanding regarding the best ways to interact with vulnerable communities and raise their resiliency against disasters. It was found that if vulnerable communities had better access to resources, infrastructure, and decision-making agency, and locations had sustainable electricity sources that could operate through extreme weather, they would be more resilient to disasters. Politics plays a large role in shaping vulnerability and resiliency, particularly in how policies determine who has access to resources, power distribution, what disaster response occurs, and how disasters are perceived, showing that these specific areas of resiliency are important to focus on, but to be effective, they need support from the political realm. If these proposed recommendations are implemented, communities will be better able to withstand disruptive forces from the environment and mitigate harm, or possibly even fully prevent disasters from occurring.