Second, such a center would elevate the stature of the field. This would enable social scientists to negotiate interdisciplinary, collaborative research agendas with their natural science and engineering counterparts on coequal footing. This could lead, for example, to interdisciplinary collaborations on hazards and disasters that address fundamental dynamics of social change (see Chapter 2). Such research has not been possible in the context of the EERCs, where social scientists comprise a small minority and research agendas have been set predominantly by engineers. The envisioned center would allow social science insights and concerns to influence, rather than simply extend, priorities in natural science and engineering research for the ultimate goal of making society safer.

Third, such a center would provide needed international leadership. The benefits of critical mass and stature noted above could be especially important in other countries, where social science research on hazards and disasters is often poorly established. Moreover, the benefits of an international network also extend to U.S. researchers, particularly in promoting collaborative research on the linkages between disasters and development (see Chapter 6).

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