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CONVERGE Virtual Forum – University Interventions after Disasters: Lessons from Puerto Rico


Recorded Forum: March 9, 2020
Time: 9:00 to 10:00 am MT


After a disaster, universities are often eager to assist impacted areas and people through providing aid and support, sponsoring service-learning trips, or conducting research aimed at collecting perishable data. When well-coordinated and rooted in local needs, these post-disaster interventions can positively inform response and recovery efforts. Sometimes, however, when these efforts are ad hoc and ephemeral, they can negatively affect communities already damaged by catastrophe.

This recorded forum features researchers who responded to the December 2019 and January 2020 earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico. The presenters reflected on the ethical and practical implications of their interventions. At the end of the discussion, they offered lessons learned and recommendations for how to balance academic demands and expectations with the survival needs of communities that have experienced collective and cumulative trauma.

This discussion, which was convened in partnership with the RISE Network, built upon the earlier Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) Virtual Forum on the Puerto Rico Earthquakes, recorded on January 17, 2020. Participants from all disciplines and organizational backgrounds were welcome to participate.


Jacob Mans, Professor of Architecture, University of Minnesota
Kim Connolly, Professor of Law, University of New York at Buffalo
Amy Nitza, Professor of Psychology, University of New York at New Paltz
Jorge Gonzalez Cruz, Professor of Civil Engineering, City University of New York

If you have questions about the SSEER network or the CONVERGE initiative, please contact Lori Peek at

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