The Resilience and Sustainability Collaboratory (RSC) is a think and do tank that brings together the collective expertise of thought leaders from corporate, community, non-governmental, governmental, and academic groups from Emory and elsewhere to address complex challenges at the nexus of the environment and society. The RSC will generate epistemic, actionable projects and provide innovative solutions for issues of sustainability through a resilience lens. We define resilience not as recovery to what was before but as a capacity to embrace the complexity of intertwined human and natural systems to transform in new and positive ways. As a US-based anchor to the International Resilience Alliance, the RSC will partner with the best minds to develop, implement, and scale new approaches that embrace the complexity and uncertainty in the dynamic systems of people and nature to meet our current and future global challenges. The RSC will provide community-accessible space in the heart of downtown Atlanta, directly across from Emory’s Midtown Hospital.
Within One Year
— Become a trustworthy resource center on resilience and sustainability, focused on systems change
— Convene best-in-class corporate sustainability executives, academic resources, subject-matter experts, local & national government agencies, and non-profit leaders to achieve significant global impact
— Generate innovative scalable local projects that support global transformation and sustainable, just, and prosperous futures worldwide
Within Five Years
— Develop learning approaches for understanding and managing complex issues of humans and environment
— Generate novel approaches to complex issues facing leaders in industry, government, organizations, and communities
— Address cross-disciplinary issues of environmental change, human health, and justice through open platforms for sharing data and results
— Serve as a recognized leader for innovation and training, using resilience thinking to address pressing issues of climate, health, and social justice
For over forty years, scholars and practitioners in theories of resilience have developed concepts or principles for enhancing the adaptive capacity of social ecological systems. These include:
— Learning to live with change and uncertainty
— Encouraging new foundations for renewal that build and sustain the capacity of people, economies, and the environment to deal with change
— Nurturing diversity for renewal and reorganization
— Combining different types of knowledge for learning to preserve accumulated experience and wisdom on which change is based
— Stimulating innovation through a variety of low cost, safe to fail experiments designed to discover sustainable outcomes
LEVELS OF RESILIENCE
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage and adapt to change” —Charles Darwin
Over the past 150 years, the city of Atlanta and its residents have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to adapt to and recover from natural disasters, economic shocks, and civil disturbances. Indeed, the motto of Atlanta is ‘Resurgens’ — to rise again. The current paradox of the metro region (and others) is that with the growth of wealth and structure, it is increasingly vulnerable to a wide range of foreseeable disturbances. Yet as indicated by our current year (2020), we can no longer pretend that such shocks, either from long-standing racial tensions, ongoing climate change, or economic inequities—can be treated as isolated, manageable events from which we recover or rebound to a new condition of normality.
As Atlanta’s largest employer and Georgia’s largest comprehensive health care system, Emory can convene thought leaders and implement innovations in resilience, such as the award-winning WaterHub which uses biomimetic design to reclaim wastewater.