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Response to Shocks and Hazards Associated with Climate

PI: Eric Jones,University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Year selected for award: 2021

Comprehensive Modeling of Cultural Transformations in Response to Shocks and Hazards Associated with Climate

Principal Investigator: Eric Jones, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Co-principal Investigator: Carol R. Ember, Yale University; Sergey Gavrilets, University of Tennessee; Michele Gelfand, Stanford University

Years of award: 2022-2025

Managing Service Agency: Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Project Description:
It is widely acknowledged that shocks—particularly those affecting food supplies, livelihoods and lives—pose threats to the security of any social group. Given increased severity, frequency and even unpredictability of climate-related hazards around the world, it becomes vital to understand how groups establish practices that enhance resilience to shocks in societies that vary in size, economic foci, population changes, and inequality. We need to know how practices around social norms, cooperation, governance, beliefs/religiosity, and making a living are influenced in different kinds of settings by variation in how climate hazards or shocks unfold. Thus, we will examine the cultural features associated with resilience in around 150 societies during the past two centuries. We will characterize the dimensions of shocks faced by society (i.e., quick vs. slow onset, frequency, predictability, severity). We will assess societies for absorptive, adaptive and transformative resilience based on wellbeing (measured as hunger, community cohesion, intergenerational commitment, and defending against loss of resources). Findings on the cultural consequences of shocks along with related resilience will be further explored through mathematical models plus through in-depth case studies of how societies have dealt with the different dimensions of shocks.