Need for Broader Perspectives
Catastrophes exact grave tolls to families, communities and societies. They present a complex array of experiences and outcomes that emanate from events of mass violence, deprivation, displacement and disease that are associated with long-term social instability. The variety of responses to such tragic events that exist in assortments of services, policies and practices are too often fragmented, short-term, and not supportive of local families, communities, and cultures.
Catastrophes are often approached within one sector, or from the perspective of a single discipline. There is little to no knowledge that attempts to understand the processes of vulnerability and resilience at the levels of families, communities, cultures, systems, and societies. Research into these experiences requires innovative perspectives that regards them as part of broader public health, social, cultural and political crises that must be better comprehended as a basis for governments and other organizations to develop and implement more effective helping efforts.
Helping People and Changing the Field
To advance scholarship and services in an area of contemporary importance for the city of Chicago and the world, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) established the International Center on Responses to Catastrophes (ICORC) in 2002 through the collaborative efforts of faculty and administrators. ICORC is a cross-campus unit organized through the Department of Psychiatry and the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research. Its primary mission is to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship that contributes to improved helping efforts for those affected by catastrophes.