WPA CONVENTION TO HOST INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON MANAGING
by Harvey Wichman, Claremont McKenna College
An all-day workshop for a limited number of participants will be held on
Friday April 12th in conjunction with the WPA annual convention. The
workshop is designed to bring together those interested in the psychological
and socio-cultural aspects of coping with major disasters.
The events of September 11th made eminently clear the need for dealing with
disasters that go far beyond, the scope of local, regional and even national
concerns. The time is at hand to develop innovative methods of response to
traumatic occurrences that are global in effect. The workshop will focus on
the issues related to dealing with global- scale disasters which are certain
to be caused in the future by a variety of events including large asteroids
and comets striking the Earth., Such events will cause devastation ranging
from regional to global and could even constitute a threat to life itself.
Most of the workshop results should be applicable to coping with disasters
of all sorts including regional disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes,
nuclear accidents, and large-scale terrorist attacks.
A mostly technically oriented workshop on this topic was held in Spain last
year by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which
focussed on the scientific facts about the threat and technical means to
detect and possibly deflect the incoming bodies to minimize or even avoid
some threats. However the psychological and socio-cultural dimensions of
such global-scale disasters were not explored in the Spain workshop. Thus
the social science community was asked by the leader of that workshop to
organize this complementary WPA workshop to explore such issues. While
currently there is a modest literature on the human aspects of coping with
local and regional disasters, very little has been done on disasters of a
global-scale since the early days of the cold war and concerns about nuclear
winter. Because future impacts by asteroids and comets will certainly occur,
the purpose of this workshop is to explore the latest thinking about the
human aspects of dealing with such catastrophes. This will be done via
presentations by a number of experts, and by bringing together social
scientists with disaster interest and/or expertise, and others who would
like to get involved with this topic,, to brainstorm and set some guidelines
for future research and thinking.
The workshop will feature seven papers by eminent scholars from several
disciplines. The first speaker will provide a factual scientific background
by summarizing the results of the Spain workshop, describing the threat that
Earth faces from impacts by asteroids and comets and countermeasures that
may be possible. Six eminent authorities on the human dimension will then
address key psychological and socio-cultural issues associated with dealing
with such large-scale disasters, both before and after they occur. Following
lunch and informal discussions those attending will join with the speakers
in a moderated give-and-take discussion among the participants and the
speakers to distill the issues, conclusions, and recommended actions.
THE THREAT TO EARTH FROM ASTEROIDS AND COMETS, AND POSSIBLE COUNTERMEASURES,
Clark Chapman, Office of Space Studies, Southwest Research Institute, USA.
PREPARING THE PUBLIC FOR AN IMPENDING DISASTER, Benny Peiser, School of
Human Science, Liverpool John Moores University, UK.
LIFE AND DEATH ISSUES IN MINIMIZING AND MANAGING CASUALTIES, Albert
Harrison, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis.
ORGANIZING FOR EFFECTIVE GLOBAL ACTION, Geoffrey Sommer, (Policy Studies),
Risk Management Division, the Rand Corporation.
MANAGING MAJOR POST-DISASTER SOCIETAL DISRUPTIONS, Lee Clarke, Department of
Sociology, Rutgers University.
MANAGING POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS IN INDIVIDUALS, Douglas Vakoch and Tammy
Calvano, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis.
CRISIS LEADERSHIP FOR COPING WITH GLOBAL-SCALE DISASTERS, Ian Mitroff,
Harold Quinton Professor of Business Policy, University of Southern
The workshop was organized by Harvey Wichman, Director of the Aerospace
Psychology Laboratory at Claremont McKenna College (CMC), and Ivan Bekey, a
Space Engineer with the International Academy of Astronautics and organizer
of the Spain technical workshop. The Kravis Leadership Institute at CMC will
sponsor the workshop and assist with publishing the results. Ronald Riggio,
Director of the Kravis Leaderreship Institute will moderate the workshop
For those who do not attend the workshop but are interested in hearing a
summary presentation of what took place there, WPA will present a Symposium
on Saturday April 13th in which Ivan Bekey, Ronald Riggio and Harvey Wichman
will present highlights from each of the papers and summarize the workshop
discussions, conclusions, and recommendations.
CCCMENU CCC for 2002