‘Why we disagree about resilience’ (WhyDAR) Project

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Find out more about WhyDAR's research, with interesting connections to Urban ARK.

WhyDAR is a multi-disciplinary research project bringing together practitioners and academics interested in investigating the multiple, and sometimes contradictory, perspectives which exist on urban resilience paying attention to the ways in which science and expertise are mobilized in these. There are interesting synergies between WhyDAR and Urban ARK, particulary our research in Nairobi. The projects are collaborating in various ways to further build our community of practice. 

WhyDAR is particularly interested in understanding the extent to which science and technology can be mobilized towards the deployment of a transformative approach to resilience, sensitive to issues of social and environmental justice. In relation to this theoretical objective, WhyDAR uses qualitative GIS and creative practices to explore new ways of visualizing resilience.


  • Open research and policy learning on the role of science in resilience programming.
  • Question the ethical obligations and duties of justice arising from use of ‘expert’ science.
  • Examine how multiple evidences (i.e. spatial hazard and vulnerability data and social-cultural narratives) can be brought together to open spaces for interdisciplinary and coproduced visualisations of resilience.
  • Build relationships between disciplines and practitioners to improve future resilience working.

We seek to open a research agenda on the role of science in resilience planning, drawing in particular on insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS). Justice concerns have also long been a motivator for social science research on risk and urban governance, yet they have seldom directly engaged with STS. The project opens up research and policy questions on the role and duties accruing to science and scientists working on resilience.

Despite improved knowledge, risk and loss continue to grow, especially for the urban poor. Governance is at the heart of this challenge. Central to risk governance is the ways in which knowledge and experts interact with public authorities and contribute to the deployment of resilience policy. There is a need to better understand how knowledge is used in planning and policy processes and what are the implications for governance. This goes beyond the communication of science to understanding science as an integral part of urban risk governance.

We also seek to explore how new methodologies, bringing together qualitative GIS and creative practices, can benefit policy and planning processes. In particular, we aim at exploring ways to visualize resilience which move beyond conventional GIS mapping and account for the social dimension of resilience and the importance of values.


The WhyDAR team is working in three places:

  • Manila, Philippines
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Cape Town, South Africa

In each city we have conducted individual interviews and two stakeholders workshops: one with participants from local communities and one with science-policy experts. In each case the first workshop uses different creative activities to map the social networks and connections which are important for participants. The outputs of these first workshops (innovative maps) are first shared with participants in order to discuss and gather feedback and then used in the context of a science-policy workshop gathering city officials and participants whose work relate to urban and resilience planning in order to trigger a discussion.


WhyDAR Institutions: Christian Aid, King’s College London (KCL), Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), University of Cape Town, Warwick University. The WhyDAR team includes:




WhyDAR is funded by the Global Challenge Research Fund  and brings together different UK Research Councils: NERC, AHRC and ESRC.