How to frame relevant research questions? Introduction to Urban Resilience Viewpoints

The Urban Resilience Research Network is pleased to present a new section titled “Viewpoints”, in which a variety of scholars from different disciplines will introduce their perspectives on urban resilience in order to help framing relevant research questions.

One of the main challenges in dealing with research is indeed framing the right questions. Einstein quote “if I had one hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution” highlighted that before jumping into solutions we should step back investing time and energy in the definition and understanding of the problem. One of the first questions posed addressing resilience was “resilience of what to what?” Such inception, simultaneously with a sprawl of resilience within the policy arena, already suggested the volatility of the concept and its potential fuzzyness, needing a proper framing. Nowadays dozens of urban and community assessment tools are freely available, and different frameworks have been proposed worldwide while Chief Resilience Officers are managing projects addressing urban vulnerabilities. However, there are still huge gaps between research and practices. How to overcome these gaps? Which are the right research questions to pose, and how researchers could contribute to frame critical but useful research contributing to both theoretical advances and a more coherent, just and sustainability-oriented application of urban resilience?

This new section will offer a rich variety of short essays presenting thoughts and perspectives on how research should be framed in order to overcome the most pressing challenges and critiques related to resilience and urban systems. It opens with the contributions from two invited authors, namely Ilan Kelman and Jon Coaffee, who will introduce respectively a critique on the concept of resilience (how distant it is from the reality of our world practices) and the challenges posed by operationalizing a “holistic urban resilience”.

In the following months we will publish different essays, introducing also viewpoints from practitioners and the principal organizations to explore both the academic and non-academic perspectives about how to frame problems. In case you would like to contribute to this debate, presenting your perspective, you’re welcome to write to us. In the meanwhile, we hope this new section will help framing interesting research.