International Conference on the Societal Risk Management of Natural Hazards (ICSRM)

I Hotel and Conference Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

April 17-18, 2014

Natural hazards - traditionally defined as potentially damaging or destructive natural events that might occur in the future - can have a devastating impact on society. Throughout the world each year, natural disasters kill approximately 80,000 people, render millions homeless, and result in economic losses of $50 billion-$60 billion. While the general field of risk analysis has made significant progress in recent decades in quantifying the expected physical damage associated with natural events, all countries face decisions on the level of acceptable risk its citizens should face in the built or modified natural environment. Robust building codes, land-use development restrictions, and environmental preservation policies can all lead to reduced risk exposure to natural hazards, but they exact a cost in terms of economic development and immediate amenities.

The premise for the conference is that successful policy in the area of risk management requires the technical expertise of engineers; the legal, cultural, political, environmental and economic expertise of social scientists and legal scholars; and the ethical expertise of philosophers. The goal of the workshop is therefore to bring together leading minds in engineering, philosophy, law, and psychology to identify foundational directions and approaches to societal risk management of natural hazards.

Specific themes that will be discussed during the conference include:

  • the basis for distinguishing the risks to which a society may be permissibly exposed from those to which it may not be so exposed;
  • the appropriate tradeoff between immediate needs and future potential devastation, including how to balance mitigating low-probability but high-consequence events in light of more immediate and definite needs of society;
  • the extent to which decisions concerning these risks should be publicly debated and decided;
  • the moral and behavioral significance of the source of a risk, or how a risk is created and maintained in the built environment; and
  • the principles that should be used to assess moral and legal responsibilities in mitigating and preparing for risks and in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The conference features a number of presentation from scholars and practitioners from diverse national and professional background. Anybody is welcome to attend the conference at no charges.

Conference Organizers and Speakers

Conference Program

Registration for Free Attendance

Sponsors: Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), CEE Societal Risk Management (SRM) Program, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives (WGGP), College of Law, Office of Risk Management and Insurance Research (College of Business), and the AXIS Research Center (AXIS Capital).