For Daniel Aldrich, living through Hurricane Katrina in 2005 shifted his interest on disaster recovery into, specifically, the ability for communities to recover from trauma.
“People display a remarkable resiliency,” he says.
This ability of communities and individuals to recover from trauma — specifically, to violence exposure — will now be the center of an interdisciplinary project that Aldrich, Professor of Political Science and Director of Northeastern University’s Master’s Program in Security and Resilience, will co-lead along with Associate Professor of Applied Psychology Christie J. Rizzo, after being awarded a seed grant from the Global Resilience Institute (GRI).
“It’s one of those ‘peanut butter and chocolate’ moments, when each of you have the half to a puzzle,” Aldrich says of their collaboration.
“Bridging the Gap: A Proposal for a Framework to Integrate Individual and Community Resilience to Violence” will take a unified approach to identify the factors which create individual and community resilience to violence. Why do some individuals exposed to childhood trauma demonstrate resilience — while others do not?
“One of the weaknesses in this growing area of literature is, we focus so heavily on risk and there isn’t really a lot of research trying to understand what are the individual, the family and the community factors that can promote resilience to trauma and violence exposure,” explains Rizzo.
She adds, “It’s not as simple as just removing risk factors. There actually are potentially a lot of meaningful things we can do to promote this.”
With two years of funding from GRI, the multi-disciplinary team will head out into the community to speak with parents, teachers, and religious leaders. Their research objective is to understand how individuals process mental trauma. The team will work with local partners in order to implement programs which can then enhance those factors among youth in high-burden communities in the northeast.
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