The University of Birmingham global network Humanities for Resilience, established in 2017, is addressing how resilience can be fostered by developing a better understanding of how 'ways of living', such as shared art, music, heritage, food/cooking and inter-faith practices, contribute to its development. 

Engineering and ecosystems

The University’s member is Dr Katherine Brown and Dr Sara Fregonese from the Geography department is a Co-investigator. Dr Brown is also a founder of the network, which includes academics, policy makers and practitioners in several development and security areas. It operates in the UK, Zambia, Pakistan and Lebanon, with participants from Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East.

Although resilience is at the heart of global development and sustainability, there is limited understanding of why communities endure, abide and even flourish in times of adversity. Traditionally, capacities developed to absorb shocks to communities, or systems, are based mainly on knowledge from engineering and ecosystems. 

Sustainable alternatives

Dr Brown says: ‘We need to understand and implement resilience from a more human-focused and everyday position to meet evermore complex and variable challenges. Focusing on a 'ways of living' approach to resilience, the network is exploring the shared human experience of resilience.’

By enhancing and focusing on this approach, the network provides sustainable alternatives to policy makers in the international fields of development and security provision, prioritising 'bottom-up’ and shared formations of resilience.