In memoriam: Henry Quarantelli (giant in the field)

Today, we received the sad news that scholar and gentleman Henry Quarantelli passed away. He laid the groundwork for the study of disaster and crisis management.


Here is the message from his colleagues at the Disaster Research Center:


Dear Colleagues,

We are writing with some very sad news. We are sorry to tell you that Enrico L. (Henry) Quarantelli passed away on Sunday, April 2, 2017, at the age of 92.

Henry was a very private person and as his health declined over these last few years he stopped coming regularly to DRC. He suspended contacts with all but a very few people in town, mainly his caregivers and those closest to his personal affairs.

It would be difficult in this short letter to describe the magnitude of his influence on the disasters field, of which he is one of the founders, or his influence on his vast circle of friends, students, and colleagues around the world. You all know that, and we think that each of us will reflect personally on his effect on us. Henry devoted his entire life to our field, sparing little for pursuits outside those of scientific inquiry. Truly, we are in his debt for the careers he helped to launch, for his lineage of scholarly descendants,  and for the intellectual legacy that has sustained us over these last five decades. Perhaps his main gift to us and to the world was the gift of clear thinking about disasters. He gave us methods and an art for seeing through the myths and misconceptions of these events, and for developing better understanding of causes and consequences.

His research covered nearly every topic that is presently studied, sometimes only in a nascent form, but it is easy to see the intellectual origins of many ideas that we pursue now. Organizational change, emergence, volunteers, disaster mental health, emergency operations centers, warnings, evacuations, and emergency medical care among other subjects all form part of the vast corpus of research that undergirds modern disaster science.

His last work remains in progress, a broad survey of the popular culture of disaster that he worked on with Ian Davis. He was long interested in the representation of disasters in music, art, folklore, and film. His theoretical approach in symbolic interactionism was on display: how did these representations reflect how a local population understood the disaster and drew it into their collective experience? How did it shape the awareness of those who weren’t there? He always hoped that someone would tackle popular culture in more detail. Perhaps someone will.

His research is widely known, but some of his work is known only in a smaller circle, such as his development of cooperative relationships with scholars in Japan, beginning some thirty years ago and persisting to this day. The field is young enough that today’s senior scholars were around for much of its development, but newer scholars may not know the provenance of certain fixtures of our intellectual lives. His work with colleagues in establishing the International Research Committee on Disasters, part of the International Sociological Association, and the founding of the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, have provided an important infrastructure for scholarly communication. Because IJMED is freely available online, it serves as a vital resource for the practice and policy communities.

His lifelong collaboration with Russell Dynes, of course, is a part of that personal and professional history and part of the history of disaster research, a unique partnership that is a preeminent example of teamwork in science. In today’s age of micromeasurement of “impact” and “productivity,” where collaboration is simultaneously encouraged and undervalued (What was your percent contribution to that article?”), their collaboration points to an overall benefit of intellectual partnerships and a testimony to discovery as a social enterprise. Indeed, perhaps as much as their scientific findings, their work together should stand in importance as a caution against the onslaught of metrics of scientific output. Would the disaster field be better off-would the world be better off-had they had to consider such matters at earlier points in their careers? Not likely.

Henry was quite explicit about limiting memorializing on his behalf. We are still considering next steps that will best allow those of us who want to remember and honor him to do so while still respecting his requests. Please bear with us. Over these next few days we will publicize additional details, which will also be found on our website. An “In Memoriam” page will also be posted to the DRC website. We are sorry to pass along this sad news, but we hope that we will all reflect on Henry’s life devoted to our field and-as much as it is possible within one person’s power-to the well-being of so many people.

Sincerely yours,
Jim Kendra and Tricia Wachtendorf

Disaster Research Center

Panel EU Crisis Management June 1-2, Leiden University

The Dutch-Belgian Political Science Meeting will be held in Leiden. One of the panels is on crisis management and the EU.

MANAGING TRANSBOUNDARY CRISES IN THE EU Convenor Prof. dr. Arjen Boin (Political Science Institute, Leiden University) Contact person and email Donald Blondin, Political Science, Leiden Univ. (; Wout Broekema, Public Administration, Leiden Univ. (

Short abstract (max. 50 words) In the context of recent financial and migration crises, and the imminent threats of cyber-attacks and climate change, this workshop takes up the timely challenge of detailing different types of transboundary crises, their respective impacts, and the prospects for their management, particularly with regard to the European Union.

Long abstract (max. 500 words) The European Union has recently been gripped by a host of transboundary crises – think not just of financial crisis and austerity, but of the refugee crisis, the Ebola epidemic, the Icelandic ash cloud, and the imminent threat of cyber-attacks and climate change. We define such crises by their capacity to impact multiple political jurisdictions and policy sectors, and we observe that their incidence and impact are growing as a result of several drivers, including global integration. Some of these complex threats – cyber-attacks and climate change, for example – are novel; to others, including disease outbreaks, financial implosions, and critical infrastructure failures, our interdependent societies have simply become more vulnerable. 14 Indeed, these crises are now revealing the full extent of economic, ecological, and infrastructural interdependence and thereby the limits of nation-states’ individual crisis management strategies and capacities. Nowhere are these developments being felt more strongly than in the highly interconnected and geographically proximate member states of the EU. This workshop therefore takes up the timely challenge of detailing different types of transboundary crises, their respective impacts, and the prospects for their management, particularly with regard to the EU. Among the planned thematic focal points are health security, critical infrastructure risk reduction, disaster diplomacy and crisis decision-making, the organization of national and supranational agencies for crisis coordination, and associated legal and human rights issues, but other relevant contributions are welcome. In line with the diverse nature of the crisis management literature, an array of perspectives will be brought to bear on these topics, including international relations and EU studies; public administration and law; and political behavior, communication, and sociology. Language papers English or Dutch (with English summary or abstract) Language discussions English.


Call for papers.

Does Social Trust Inspire Confidence in EU Crisis Management? Apparently not

EU Crisis Management capacities have grown stealthily yet impressively over the past decades. An intriguing question is whether this growing role is legitimate. A Swedish-US team consisting of Thomas Persson, Charles Parker and Sten Widhalm researched the question. Spoiler alert: the answer is perhaps not what you think it is….

Excellent article in Public Administration. Here’s the Early View PDF.


Second Edition “Politics of Crisis Management” book out now!

We proudly announce the second edition of the Politics of Crisis Management book. This ideas in this book have been well received in the world of strategic crisis management. We use the same framework, but it is thoroughly updated with new findings & recent examples! Available from Cambridge University Press or any other good book store.

Sanneke Kuipers new editor of Risk, Hazards and Crisis in Public Policy (RHCPP)

Congratulations to Crisisplan colleague Sanneke Kuipers! Sanneke is the new editor of this fine journal.

See PDF for more information.

New Special Issue: “Designing Resilient Institutions for Transboundary Crisis Management”

A special issue of the journal Public Administration investigates the various challenges that beset modern government as it tries to (re)design institutions in the light of transboundary threats. For an overview of articles, click here.

The introduction written by editors Arjen Boin and Martin Lodge can be found here.


After Brussels: Moving forward by building transboundary crisis management capacity

In today’s world of refugee crises and terrorist attacks, the EU member states are increasingly going it alone. Arjen Boin, Mark Rhinard and Magnus Ekengren argue that backtracking from integration is the wrong strategy. To protect our society, member states must collaborate to build transboundary crisis management capacities.

See the TransCrisis blog on the Brussel attacks here.

EU further expands its Crisis Management toolkit

The EU has more tools for crisis management than people think, but these tools are clearly not enough to deal with the current migration crisis. The Commission is now proposing an expansion of its toolkit, by “turning inward” one of its oldest tools: providing financial support to disaster-struck countries. For a press release, follow this link.


For an analysis of the EU’s crisis management toolkit, read “The European Union as Crisis Manager“.

“Backsliding” – New Crisis for the European Union?

Martin Lodge (LSE) and Nick Sitter (CEU) argue that the EU is facing a new crisis: the backsliding of Member States on previous commitments. Rather than investing in new transboundary crisis management capacities, the member states increasingly chose to go it alone. Read this brief piece here.

European Civil Security Governance

Natural disasters, industrial or large-scale transport accidents, health threats or the response to terrorist attacks have risen to feature prominently on the agenda of European security policy-makers and practitioners over the last decade. States and international organizations, most notably the European Union, have established a plethora of policies and mechanisms to deal with these risks and crises. This edited volume is the first publication to examine the resulting cross-cutting, multi-level policy space of European civil security governance in its different manifestations and consequences. Thus, this study identifies patterns of diversity and commonality between European states and international organizations, elucidates the process of transformation and reviews the opportunities for transnational cooperation in the hybrid area of civil security that still often escapes wider public attention. European Civil Security Governancewill be of interest to researchers and students of crisis and disaster management, EU integration, international organizations and security governance.