Climatic Change

, Volume 153, Issue 1–2, pp 21–40 | Cite as

The turbulent world of resilience: interpretations and themes for transdisciplinary dialogue

  • Susanne MoserEmail author
  • Sara Meerow
  • James Arnott
  • Emily Jack-Scott


Resilience has experienced exponential growth in scholarship and practice over the past several decades. We conduct a meta-analysis of recent review papers on resilience from all relevant fields to distill key themes emanating from both research and practice. These themes reflect prevalent debates, trends and insights from the thousands of underlying papers. The seven themes are: 1) the distinction between resilience as a system trait, process, or outcome; 2) the importance of resilience as a strategy for dealing with uncertainty; 3) a shift from understanding resilience to active resilience building; 4) the incorporation of transformation into resilience; 5) the increasingly normative interpretation of resilience; 6) the growing emphasis on measuring and evaluating resilience; and 7) the mounting critiques of the resilience agenda demanding attention. We discuss each in detail and find that they help explain both why resilience has attracted widespread attention, but also why it is an increasingly contested concept. We offer several steps to engage in productive dialogue across differences in resilience interpretations and conclude that this interand transdisciplinary dialogue is the difficult and necessary work that must be done, if resilience scholarship and practice is to advance in productive ways in the future.



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Susanne Moser Research & ConsultingHadleyUSA
  2. 2.Arizona State University, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningTempeUSA
  3. 3.Aspen Global Change InstituteBasaltUSA
  4. 4.University of Michigan, School for Environment & SustainabilityAnn ArborUSA

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