The adaptive cycle. Source: Resilience Alliance (2015) - http://www.resalliance.org/index.php/key_concepts

Topic: Resilience Type: Tools / Resources

Resilience Thinking – Resources for Understanding Change

Author: Tom James

Resilience is here to stay. Considered by some as a promising extension of ‘sustainability’ and criticized by others as just another buzz word, resilience has gained significant traction across the world. Resilience thinking attempts to explain the dynamics of change that we experience in our daily lives by considering ideas such as complex systems, uncertainty, thresholds, feedbacks, adaptive cycle and panarchy.

However, despite the rapid take-up of resilience thinking, it’s a concept that at times suffers a crisis of identity. What does it actually mean? Debates thrive around whether and how a resilient system, community or even individual should seek to persist and so resist change, seek to make smaller incremental adaptations or pursue larger scale transformative change. What does resilience mean to you and can its ideas be incorporated in to your practices?

Building on the ‘Resilience Resources to Ramp Up your Community’s Fire Adaptation Work’ from 2014, below I offer my top five resilience resources to help you consider these questions. The resources offer a starting point for those new to resilience thinking and something more for those who deem themselves established ‘resilience thinkers’!

  • The End of Sustainability – Benson and Craig (2014) critically explore the utility of sustainability and suggest resilience thinking as a better means of addressing uncertain futures.
  • Explore / Protect – A National Geographic video on how resilience thinking helps to illuminate how communities in New Orleans collaborated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Applying Resilience Thinking – Based on the recently published “Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems”, this video presents an insightful overview of seven principles that could help you to apply ideas from resilience thinking into your practices.
  • Resilience blog – stay up to date with new ideas and gain access to personal reflections from some top resilience thinkers at the Resilience Alliances blog.

What aspects of resilience thinking help you understand change? Do you have any resilience resources you can share?

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