The Disaster Research Center, or DRC, was the first social science research center in the world devoted to the study of disasters. It was established at Ohio State University in 1963 and moved to the University of Delaware in 1985. The Center conducts field and survey research on group, organizational and community preparation for, response to, and recovery from natural and technological disasters and other community-wide crises. DRC researchers have carried out systematic studies on a broad range of disaster types, including hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous chemical incidents, and plane crashes. DRC has also done research on civil disturbances and riots, including the 1992 Los Angeles unrest. Staff have conducted nearly 600 field studies since the Center’s inception, traveling to communities throughout the United States and to a number of foreign countries, including Mexico, Canada, Japan, Italy, and Turkey. Faculty members from the University's Sociology and Criminal Justice Department and Engineering Department direct DRC's projects. The staff also includes postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates and research support personnel.
Work in the Disaster research field attempts to yield social science knowledge on disasters and information that can and has been applied to develop more effective policies, programs, and planning to reduce disaster impacts. The Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware not only maintains its own databases but also serves as a repository for materials collected by other agencies and researchers. The DRC's special collection contains over 50,000 items, making it the most complete collection on the social and behavioral aspects of disasters in the world.
Studies in the field of Disaster Research are supported by many diverse sources, such as:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea Grant Program
- National Science Foundation
- Public Entity Risk Institute
- Social Science Research Council
- U.S. Geological Survey
Additionally, there are numerous academic and national policy boards in the realm of disaster research:
- National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council's Commission on International Disaster Assistance and Board on Natural Disasters
- National Science Foundation's Social Hazard Review Panel
- U.S. Committee on the UN Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction
Conferences on the theme of Disaster Research are organized world-wide by Universities specializing in the area, and a recent such event was the "Disaster, Risk and Vulnerability Conference 2011". held at the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, India.
Center for Natural Hazards Research at East Carolina University