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Climate Through the Prism of Covid: Lessons on Structural Vulnerability and Resilience in the Food, Health, and Social Service Sectors

Brian Burke, Rich Rheingans, Aniseh Bro, Jason Snyder, Aidan Malone, Jess McClelland. Sustainable Development department, Appalachian State University. 287 Rivers St, Boone, NC 28608

The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized how global disruptions can cause vulnerabilities among local populations in the High Country region of Western North Carolina. Similar to climate change the COVID-19 pandemic is multidimensional, dynamic, and involves significant uncertainties, which presents a window into the structural vulnerabilities and institutional responses may accompany these crises. In the paper we study effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in social service, health, and food systems in Western North Carolina that have been impacted by Covid-19 and the challenges they faced, to integrate sustainability objectives with widespread systemic adaptations. To do this we (1) examine how social service, health, and food systems in Western North Carolina have been impacted by Covid-19, (2) develop a typology of organizational responses, and (3) identify areas of vulnerability, sources of resilience, and effective adaptations for local communities in Western, NC. The key informants represented various food, social and health sector organizations along with focus groups of highly vulnerable community members which shared their perceptions, decision making and adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews and focus group data were transcribed and hand coded based on a priori and emergent themes. Various system maps were constructed based on interview narratives, identifying the key actors shaping organizations’ work and the relationships among them. Data collected from this study can be utilized to establish a new model for university-community relations that is tailored to the increasingly precarious conditions of the 21st century and the turbulent decision-making context. This research aims to identify characteristics of short-term adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic in the local community, while there may be considerable changes and stressors maintaining aspects of these adaptive responses in the long term.




Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Aidan Malone, Jess McClelland - mcclellandjr@appstate.edu

Institution: Appalachian State University

Type: Oral

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Oral 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 833
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