Teams of social scientists first began systematically studying disasters in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In the decades since, there have been several calls to learn more about the composition of this research workforce to ensure that it is prepared to meet the challenges posed by a highly unequal social world and an ever more turbulent natural world. In their report on the status of the field, the Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences acknowledged, however, that “it is difficult to be very precise about the demographic structure of hazards and disaster research due to the absence of good data” (NRC, 2006, pp. 322-323). This report responds to that gap by summarizing the results of the first census of social scientists who study hazards and disasters. Our analysis of the SSEER network data has allowed us to characterize the demographic composition, methods and approaches, and other attributes among this dynamic research community.
We will release the SSEER Census results annually via the CONVERGE website so that we can continue to monitor the status of the social science hazards and disaster research field. We will also continue to update the interactive SSEER map regularly, so if you are a social scientist how studies extreme events and have not yet joined, you are invited to do so.
Peek, Lori, Haorui Wu, Mason Mathews, Heather Champeau, and Jessica Austin. 2019. “The 2018 Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) Census.” Boulder, CO: Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado Boulder. https://converge.colorado.edu/research-networks/sseer/researchers-census/2018.
For further interpretation and analyses of this data, please see:
Peek, Lori, Heather Champeau, Jessica Austin, Mason Mathews, and Haorui Wu. 2020. “What Methods Do Social Scientists Use to Study Disasters? An Analysis of the Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) Network.” American Behavioral Scientist 64(8): 1066-1094.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1745611 and #1841338). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation, the Natural Hazards Center, or CONVERGE.
Much gratitude is owed to the members of the Natural Hazards Center team, with special thanks to: Jolie Breeden for technical and editorial support; Jeffrey Gunderson for web and data management expertise; and Rachel Adams, Emmanuelle Hines, and Jennifer Tobin for their careful review of earlier drafts of this census.