Director’s Cut: Welcome

We are delighted to welcome you to the inaugural newsletter for the University of California Disaster Resilience Network (UC DRN).  UC DRN is an initiative that connects the wealth of knowledge and experience in the UC system to better understand and address existential threats to society.  The Network has been evolving for several years as a concept and was officially launched in July 2021.

UC DRN provides a platform for collating talent, matching UC resources with external needs, conducting research, training leaders and researchers to contribute to resilience, and assisting communities facing unprecedented challenges.  Over the past four months, we have developed momentum around five sets of activities:

  1. Building an expertise portal – The portal will connect faculty, students, partners, and others with UC’s intellectual resources on crises, resilience, disaster risk management, climate change, and related themes across disciplines and campuses. For example, the portal will match agencies seeking resilience expertise with faculty in the UC system.  It will be housed within our website.
  2. Incubating innovative research –  Research on resilience will be supported with seed grants, a grant program to allow researchers to rapidly collect data and conduct analyses around crises, and knowledge-sharing events.  As an example, a research partnership is being developed with UCSB’s Natural Reserve System on wildfires.
  3. Developing applied learning opportunities – Local, regional and global opportunities will be developed and supported to pursue applied research and student internships with partners in the UC system and externally with organizations like the California Governor’s Office, the American Red Cross, and the World Bank.  For example, UC DRN has started a Disaster Resilience Fellows program which is being piloted at UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Offering UC-wide training – The ultimate aim of this is to train the next generation of leaders on crisis management and resilience building.  Our first activity is preparation of a systemwide course on Confronting California’s Concurrent and Cascading Crises.
  5. Forging University-university partnerships – Twinning and other partnership arrangements are being pursued to share knowledge and build capacity which could lead to joint research, academic offerings, and faculty and student exchanges.  An initial partnership is being developed with the University of Chile on disaster risk management.

This is supported by a dedicated network of faculty, staff and students who share our vision about harnessing and applying the wealth of knowledge in the UC system in an innovative way that cuts across campuses, units and disciplines.

We invite you to learn more about UC DRN in this issue which presents information on our activities, governance structure, donors, partners, and campus-based committees.  And we look forward to your involvement in this network to help UC fulfill its public service mission.


Prof. Sarah Anderson, UC DRN Faculty Director; Dr. Joe Leitmann, UC DRN Executive Director