In 2001, White, Kates, and Burton published an article “Knowing Better and Losing Even More,” writing that not enough effort has gone into integrating research and practice to get knowledge into action and reduce impacts of natural hazards and disasters. In a 2018 article, Impact360’s Joe Trainor and colleagues wrote that to change this situation there needs to be more researchers who want to engage with practitioners’ problems to generate immediate solutions, as well as practitioners who want to work with researchers to systematically evaluate how well implemented solutions have addressed their problems.
Joe and colleagues outlined several actions that researchers and practitioners can take to improve integration of research and practice to reduce the impacts of natural hazards and disasters:
- Facilitate interaction between researchers and practitioners
- Build mutual empathy about the nature of doing both research and practice
- Create shared expectations for what valuable knowledge and information is
- Evolve shared communication styles and outlets
- Find overarching priorities and incentives
Impact360 Alliance believes these actions will build the capacity for researchers and practitioners to solve problems inclusively. A focus on inclusive problem solving will make research and practice more permeable and generate a needs-based cycle of knowledge and action. Integrating research and practice requires systematic inquiry, application, and evaluation.
We are working to improve our understanding of how inclusive problem-solving with researchers and practitioners can be more effective and repeatable. Part of our approach is to interpret and apply the best inclusive problem-solving processes, as well as the tools to support these processes, that are uniquely suited to reducing impacts of natural hazards and disasters.
What we do know is that inclusive problem solving that involves both researchers and practitioners needs to be integrative and emphasize empathy, diversity, curiosity, and adaptability. It also requires being trained and comfortable in different modes of generative and evaluative thinking.
Together, researchers and practitioners can think of desirable futures, experiment with what could be changed to reach these desirable futures, and iterate on ideas that are useful to both counter-parts. This means researchers developing knowledge that is true and useful, with practitioners implementing knowledge that is practical and supported by evidence. In other words, we all need to be both thinkers and doers to help reduce risks and impacts from natural hazards and disasters.