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January 14, 2005

Sociologists Available to Discuss South Asia Tsunami’s Effects on the Social Fabric and Recovery of the Area

Washington, DC — The California mudslide. South Asia’s Tsunami. Hurricane Andrew. September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. NASA’s Challenger and Columbia explosions. The Northridge earthquake. The Chicago heat wave. Chernobyl. The Exxon Valdez. TWA Flight 800. Whether a natural disaster, human error, or an intentional attack, there are social aspects and consequences to these disasters. Social scientists can comment on what is known about human and social relationships and structures that could help prevent or mitigate the consequences of disasters, common myths about disasters, analyses of common mistakes in developing responses to disasters, and the mismatch between citizens’ needs and government and private industry responses. Sociologists can comment on how to improve preparedness for, response to, and recovery from human and natural disasters.

Disaster experts are:

Kathleen Tierney, (303-492-6427 or, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Natural Hazards Research Center, University of Colorado-Boulder, recently wrote Facing the Unexpected: Disaster Preparedness and Response in the United States. Since September 11, 2001, she has been directing a study on the organizational and community response in New York following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Prior to moving to the University of Colorado, she was the Director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. With more than 25 years of experience in the disaster field, Tierney has studied many disaster events, including major earthquakes in California and Japan, floods in the Midwest, and Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew.

Lee Clarke, (732-445-5741 or, Associate Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, writes about organizations, culture, and disasters. His early work concerned how decision makers choose among risks in highly uncertain environments. His publications include: Organizations, Uncertainties, and Risk, edited by James F. Short, Jr. and Lee Clarke; Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment; and Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas. He has written, and frequently lectures about, organizational failures, leadership, terrorism, panic, civil defense, evacuation, community response to disaster, organizational failure, and the World Trade Center disaster. His work was recently profiled in the New York Times and the Harvard Business Review. His latest book, Worst Cases: Imagining Terror and Calamity in the Modern Day, will be published in October.

Eric Klinenberg, (212-998-8375 or, Assistant Professor of Sociology at New York University, is author of Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, which has received awards from the Urban Affairs Association Book Prize, the Association of American Publishers Award, and received the American Sociological Association Urban Book Prize. His areas of interests include urban and community sociology, the sociology of science, technology, and knowledge, and the sociology of media and culture. He has written several academic and news articles about urban disaster, in the International Herald Tribune, the Guardian, and the Boston Globe; and his work has been profiled in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, NPR, and PBS.

Havidan Rodriguez, (302-831-6618 or, Director of the University of Delaware Disaster Research Center and Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. He serves as a member of the Disaster Roundtables at the National Academies of Science. He is currently working on two research projects focusing on population composition, geographic distribution, natural hazards, and vulnerability in the coastal regions of Puerto Rico. Some of his recent publications include: Disasters, Vulnerability, and Society: An International and Multi-Disciplinary Approach (2004 – Invited Editor with Wachtendorf); The Role of Science, Technology, and the Media in the Communication of Risk and Warnings; and In Risk and Crisis Communication: Building Trust and Explaining Complexities When Emergencies Arise (2004).

William A. Anderson (202-334-1523 or is associate executive director in the Division on Earth and Life Studies and director of the Disasters Roundtable in the National Research Council. From June 1999 to June 2001, he served as senior advisor in the Disaster Management Facility in the Infrastructure Division at the World Bank while on leave from the National Science Foundation (NSF). For more than twenty years, he held various positions at NSF, including program director, section head, and acting division director. While at NSF, his responsibilities included developing multidisciplinary natural hazards research programs and providing oversight for such large-scale research activities as the NSF-funded earthquake engineering research centers.

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About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.