How can resilience be developed and sustained?

CIFAR's Global Call for Ideas invited applicants from all over the world to propose an important research question they want to address. We chose 12 finalists, and will announce the final selection in May. Find out more about this finalist.

Resilience is usually defined as the ability of an individual or system not only to recover from adversity, but to thrive in its wake. The Multisystemic Resilience program will look at resilience through a transdisciplinary lens, showing how one type of resilience can either give way to another or prevent it.

Resilience appears in many different disciplines such as psychology, disaster risk reduction, environmental science and economics. Most often the term is used to describe how a system – whether a traumatized brain or a coral reef bleached by agricultural runoff – not only recovers from adversity, but manages to sustain itself and thrive.

Studying resilience shifts our focus from why things go wrong to the factors that protect individuals or systems from breaking down, and opens new opportunities for fixing complex problems that need creative solutions.


  •   Michael Ungar is a professor of social work at Dalhousie University, and holds the Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience.
  •   Katrina Brown is a professor of social sciences at the University of Exeter.

Find out more about the other short-listed Global Call proposals