Community Resilience: A Cross-Cultural Study

Community Resilience: A Cross-Cultural Study

In December, 2008, the Comparative Urban Studies Project (CUSP) of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Fetzer Institute held an invitational seminar examining community resilience. Twenty-three scholars and practitioners gathered at the Wilson Center in Washington DC from eleven countries; representative of South America, North America, Africa, Indo-Southern Asia, and Russia.

At this gathering, community activists who have devoted their lives to organizing slum dwellers and other poor communities exchanged insights and lessons learned with academics and practitioners. The goal of the meeting was to encourage cutting-edge conversations that add to the working knowledge of community resilience, raising critical questions and identifying areas for further research and exploration.

This publication reflects a “conversation”— a brief exploration of the major themes that were shared through this remarkable process and gathering. Reflections from the group of scholars and practitioners are shared, as well as essays from Blair Ruble, John Paul Lederach, and Jill Simone Gross, all addressing the following questions:

  • How do different cultures around the world describe and define successful, healthy communities?
  • How can local communities promote urban inclusion and reconciliation?
  • What is the role of the individual in community transformation and community in individual transformation? How do they inform each other?
  • In what situations is resilience transformative and in what situations is resilience “a bouncing back” to an untenable life?
  • How can successful examples of community resilience inform global consciousness away from fear and violence?
  • How can governance structures and policies to promote democratic civic culture create a common sense of belonging and foster community resilience in an increasingly globalized world?
  • What key elements need to be present for community betterment to take place?

This publication is the first in a series of three reports focusing on Revitalizing Community Within and Across Boundaries. Additional titles include After the Disaster: Rebuilding Communities and Our Shared Future: Environmental Pathways to Peace.

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