Andrew Rumbach and Sara McTarnaghan: A Planner's Guide to Designing Impact-Oriented Research on Disasters, Climate Change, and Community Resilience

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image / Karsten Wurth on Unsplash


Climate change threatens the health, safety, and prosperity of American families and communities. Natural hazards such as floods and wildfires are becoming more frequent, severe, and widespread, requiring innovative policies and programs to reduce risk, recover equitably, and build resilience. The climate transition offers unparalleled opportunities for community investment and transformation. How can planning researchers serve the needs of climate changemakers who are committed to building safer, more prosperous, and more resilient communities? In this presentation, we will describe how a think tank like the Urban Institute designs its research and policy impact agenda on disasters and climate change. We will highlight several ongoing research efforts and discuss our broader strategy for emphasizing place-based, equity-focused plans, policies, and programs.


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Andrew Rumbach

Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute

Andrew Rumbach is a senior fellow at the Urban Institute where he co-leads the Climate and Communities practice area in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. Rumbach is a mixed-methods researcher who studies household and community risk to natural hazards and climate change. He is especially interested in how federal, state, and local government plans and policies shape hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and community disaster recovery. Rumbach earned a B.A. in political science from Reed College and a Ph.D. and M.R.P. in city and regional planning from Cornell University.

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Sara McTarnaghan

Principal Research Associate at the Urban Institute

Sara McTarnaghan is a principal research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute and co-lead for the Climate and Communities practice area. Her research focuses on the intersection between climate resilience and affordable housing, as well as local and regional approaches to equitable resilience planning and disaster recovery. She earned a B.A. from George Washington University and an M.S. in community and regional planning and an M.A. in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.


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