What Is a Resilient Society?

The word “resilience” generally means “the elasticity, restorative force, capacity to recover from illness, etc., or toughness” (Digital Daijisen, Shogakukan Inc.). It is a word used more recently in the context of psychology to refer to “processes or capabilities that adapt deftly despite circumstances posing difficulties and threats.” Moreover, the concept of resilience has come to be seen as a crucial capacity for disaster prevention and mitigation which must be found within industrial and governmental organizations, not to mention in the social and economic fields.
For this program, “resilience” is defined as “the capacity of a system, enterprise, or a person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances” (Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy, Resilience, 2013), and a resilient society as “a society that can maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances." It is supposed that a resilient society is one that can achieve the following three states.


Rather than trying to restore society to the same circumstances found before the damage caused by a disaster, achieving a resilient society in the future will most certainly require a new mindset of creative restoration. We must aim for regeneration in a form that improves on the past light of our newfound clarity on how our living spaces were exposed to high risk of earthquake and tsunami (Nobuaki Hamaguchi, On Creative Restoration, 2013). We must also encourage activity that builds new regional histories (Toshihiko Hayashi, Economics of Major Disasters, 2011).


Human Resources
Driving Construction
of a Resilient Society

Based on the definition of resilience and the concept of creative restoration put forward by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy, this program defines the “human resources that drive the construction of a resilient society” as “people who create and sustain enterprises that give rise to creative value by discerning the vulnerabilities of social systems and forecasting the changes brought on by disaster.” We believe that having the following four capabilities - together with basic entrepreneurial skills and ability - will drive construction of a resilient society through the design and realization of new enterprises, in bringing about reconstruction and disaster prevention and mitigation.

1. Discerning the vulnerability of social systems

The causes of vulnerability in social systems can be divided into (1) design, (2) realization and (3) operation. Moreover, even within the same social system, different vulnerabilities may emerge depending on the context (historical, cultural, geographical, industrial, etc.).

2. Predicting extreme events and their impacts

Rather than merely understanding current circumstances, it is necessary to forecast the ways in which society could change due to potential future disasters.

3. Adopting the three perspectives of self-help, mutual aid, and public support

By making use not just of individual personal abilities but also of local communities and governments as well as the national government, enterprises that contribute to reconstruction and disaster prevention and mitigation can improve the potential for instituting and sustaining results.

4. Establishing economic value and social value related to reconstruction and disaster prevention and mitigation

We aim to achieve sustainability of enterprises by providing economic value simultaneously with value related to reconstruction and disaster prevention and mitigation (social value).

Program Process Frame

In considering a project which contributes to the construction of a resilient society, we designed this program assuming that the project makes advances by intercommunicating with processes (iteration).


Program Overview

During the 20-year period between 2000 and 2019, there were 7,348 disaster events recorded worldwide by the Emergency Events Database of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), one of the foremost international databases covering emergency events. In total, disasters claimed 1.23 million lives, in addition to affecting more than 4 billion people. Furthermore, disasters led to approximately US $2.97 trillion in economic losses worldwide(The Human Cost of Disasters 2000–2019, CRED and The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020). The extent of disaster impacts depends on multiple factors, including the type of hazard, its location and the contexts of communities, like politics, economy, technology, culture, and other such considerations. In light of the intensification of many environmental hazards and the complex interactions thereof, risk reduction strategies and decision-making activities need to scrutinize integrative, multiscale and multifaceted aspects.
In Japan, due to its location, many significant earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and heavy rains have occurred: the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995, the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the Western Japan Floods in 2018, Typhoon Hagibis in 2019. As an island nation, we can observe different recovery processes and phases at the same time. Kobe is a city where the recovery and reconstruction process from the damages caused by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake has been finished, and we can assess the long-term effects as well as the impacts of “Build Back Better” that can be observed through the process. Tohoku is a region where some cities and towns were hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, with recovery efforts still ongoing. We can evaluate the recovery process for these ten years and provide feedback on strategies for the decade ahead.
In this program, you will study entrepreneurship for disaster risk management, by studying the disaster damage and recovery processes in Kobe and Tohoku, and by planning a project for disaster prevention and mitigation. You will discuss the subject of disaster management as a social problem, together with faculty and students from different universities.

This program is implemented by the consortium EARTH on EDGE as part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) EDGE-NEXT project.

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2024 program schedule
2024 Program