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Network Resilience Conference - An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understand the Recovery from Shocks of Social, Transportation, Energy and Distribution Networks


April 7, 2011

Click here to register for the event

About the Conference

Disaster mitigation and recovery policies qualify as global, grand challenges that require the insights from multiple disciplines working in concert for developing solutions. This one-day conference brings together international researchers and scholars, focusing on the resilience of networks in a variety of settings including energy, distribution, and transportation from social science and engineering perspectives. With the goal to generate interdisciplinary approaches to networks, the Purdue Network Resilience Conference will include lectures from experts in these fields, poster presentations by graduate students, open and closed sessions on these critical topics, and informal discussions outside the conference hall.

Conference co-chairs

Prof. Daniel Aldrich

Prof. Satish Ukkusuri

Sponsored by

The Global Policy Research Institute at Purdue University

The Purdue Climate Change Research Center

The Global Sustainability Initiative at Purdue University

Purdue Homeland Security Institute

Contact Information

Daniel P. Aldrich
Department of Political Science
Beering Hall of Liberal Arts
100 N. University Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907
Phone: (765) 494-4190
Email: daniel.aldrich@gmail.com

Rose M. Filley
Purdue Climate Change Research Center
Gerald D. and Edna E. Mann Hall, Suite 266
203 S. Martin Jischke Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907
Phone: (765) 496-3211
Email: rfilley@purdue.edu

Map & Directions

Gerald D. and Edna E. Mann Hall
Discovery Park
Purdue University
203 S. Martin Jischke Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship
Discovery Park
Purdue University
1201 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2057

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April 7, 2011

Morgan Center, Room 121

"Traffic Models & Evacuation"


The use of transportation models in evacuation studies, with a focus on some recent findings and near-future research from our group. This includes testing hypotheses on drivers' behavior within a driving simulator and on travelers' choice behavior within a Second Life avatar-environment. Also, some model developments based on empirical literature, and model applications in the area of traffic control, assessment of evacuation plans, and optimal evacuation planning.

"Critical Reflections on Network Resilience: An Experiential view from Social Sciences"


The idea of network resilience drawn from systems approach should address some of the key developments within the systems approach. These originate from the philosophic assumptions of empirical sciences and also have implications for transforming the enterprise of positivist science. The idea of resilience is also a matter of identifying, judging and labeling phenomena- in a post facto manner.

One of the most important insights of the new systems theory is that life and cognition are inseparable. The process of knowledge is also the process of self-organization, that is, the process of life. Our conventional model of knowledge is one of representation or an image of independently existing facts. This is the model derived from classical physics. From, the new systems point of view, knowledge is a part of the process of life, of a dialogue between subject and object.

The five significant developments that impinge upon systems approach are:

  1. Shift from the parts to the whole. The properties of the parts can be understood only from the dynamics of the whole. In fact, ultimately there are no parts at all.
  2. Shift from the structure to the process. In the new paradigm, every structure is seen as a manifestation of an underlying process.
  3. Shift from objective to epistemic science. In the new paradigm, it is believed the epistemology - the understanding of the process of knowledge - has to be included explicitly in the description of natural phenomenon.
  4. A shift from building to networks as a metaphor of knowledge. In the new paradigm, the metaphor of knowledge as a building is being replaced by that of the network.
  5. Shift from truth to approximate descriptions. This insight is crucial to all modern science...in the new paradigm, it is recognized that all scientific concepts and theories are limited and approximate.

While it is true that everything affects everything else - what is the nature of this interconnection? Can we grasp the import of the idea of the world being in universal flux of events and processes? While systems theory looks for interconnectedness and interrelationships - the assumptions related to the idea of a given entity being in constant flux - in a disaster context poses several challenges. In disaster situations one has to deal with the idea of each entity being dynamic and changing substantially. What are its implications for network resilience?

Having said this, social and ecological studies in network analysis explore newer interpretations of how forms of resilience are developed - a process that requires negotiating structures. The structures may be those that sustain over time- or in the context of disasters new ones may be created, leading to newer ways of behavior, a dynamic which may contribute (to enhancing or deteriorating) resilience.

According to Ehrhardt et al (2008) there is a growing consensus among social scientists that many social phenomena display an inherent network dimension. Not only is it true that they are “embedded” in the underlying social network (see Granovetter, 1985) but, reciprocally, the social network itself is largely shaped by the evolution of those phenomena.

Resilience is defined is various ways. The resilience of social networks is a function of a range of individual and systemic factors. However in the context of disasters- for an individual, that which helps survival or helps to minimize or mitigate losses is termed as resilient. Network resilience would need to look at building individual resilience which improves individual outcomes and identities and helps or works to improve resilience of whole communities. Factors that increase resilience of individuals are personality based, and those based on social, economic, political position. Respecting rights and freedom of people and communities is important for enhancing resilience and resourcefulness of people. The idea of social and cultural capital may be also be useful. An individual’s or community’s knowledge, awareness, education and personal skills - all contribute to negotiating events and structures.

In addition factors that help build resilience of systems in disasters - are aspects of infrastructure development (roads, railways, telephones, shelters), geographic location, governance systems (corruption and systemic inequities policies and their implementation. Therefore building resilience is a complex function of physical, social, cultural factors and how the network is constructed.

Some of these issues will be explored in the context of devastating Mumbai and Kosi floods in India.