Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
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Funding Source: Year 5-7 Consortia Grants (RFP-IV)

Project Overview

Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities (CRGC)

Principal Investigator
RAND Corporation
Justice, Infrastructure and Environment
Member Institutions
George Washington University, Louisiana Public Health Institute, Louisiana State University, RAND Corporation, Tulane University, University of South Alabama


The Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities assesses and addresses the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DH) oil spill on the health, social, and economic wellbeing of people in the Gulf Coast region. Distinguished scientists from the RAND Corporation, Louisiana State University (LSU), Tulane University, University of South Alabama (USA), and Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) bring together varied expertise, close partnerships, and deep local knowledge to address a major concern to Gulf Coast decision makers and residents: How can communities build resilience to adverse future events like the DH oil spill?

Our research, outreach, and education goals and the products developing from our work are aimed at helping communities across the Gulf Coast to more effectively understand, withstand, and overcome the multiple stressors brought on by such disasters.

Goals Include Resilience-Related Research, Outreach, and Education

The Consortium addresses Theme 5 in the GoMRI RFP-IV. Our work is comprised of five components that guide our research, outreach, and education activities. Together, the components will reach and bridge community organizations and leaders, policy makers, and scholars seeking to improve understanding of and responses to hydrocarbon release disasters:

Component A: Integrating research disciplines and joining researchers and communities. Resilience requires robust interaction between a community’s physical, social, and economic systems. To facilitate this, the Consortium takes a complex systems approach to resilience and resilience-based programming, and works to enhance collaboration across academic disciplines and between researchers and community stakeholders. Research team members represent multiple disciplines, including public health, psychiatry, psychology, sociology, economics, political science, implementation science, computer science, risk analysis, disaster resilience, ecology, decision science, and program evaluation. We collaborate closely with communities and policy makers to ensure that our work develops outputs directly relevant to building resilience to the accidental release of oil, other hydrocarbons, or related materials.

Component B: Closing knowledge gaps. There is a deep need to understand the medium- and long-term public health, social, and economic effects of the DH oil spill. To do so, the Consortium will conduct probability-based sampling and survey assessments of impacts on public health, social wellbeing, and health-economics via a telephone survey in five Gulf states (Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida) and an in-person survey in areas relatively more exposed to the DH oil spill, oversampling communities of special interest (e.g., households whose income is primarily from the oil or fishing sectors). In addition, we will estimate the extent of economic costs of the DH oil spill imposed on major Gulf region industries, such as fishing and fish/seafood processing, tourism, and oil and gas production.

Component C: Building capacity for community action planning. To help communities build their own action plans, the Consortium will develop evidence-based processes and templates for resilience strategies and risk communication. These will be developed from the data and findings established in Component B as well as on-the-ground support from field teams, including community health workers, graduate and undergraduate students, and local organizations. We will use artificial intelligence and behavioral decision research methods to develop a profile-based web tool to help coordinate the display of information about the DH oil spill impacts and how to build resilience to future events for specific user groups, including information intermediaries and county/parish emergency managers.

Component D: Training for undergraduate and graduate students.  Including education as an explicit objective of our Consortium will advance discovery and understanding and promote teaching, training, and learning in diverse ways. The Consortium will provide a number of opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to learn about innovative, trans-disciplinary research methods and best practices in community disaster risk resilience in the Gulf States.

Component E: Evaluating Consortium activities. Periodic self-evaluation will provide a baseline against which we assess progress and improve Consortium planning and operations. This evaluation research will also yield invaluable lessons for other trans-disciplinary and Gulf State programs aimed at assessing and addressing disaster impacts. We will use quantitative and qualitative metrics derived from an Action-Logic Model to achieve this goal.

Outcomes Are Designed to Provide Much-Needed Information and Tools

To help communities build resilience to adverse future events like the DH oil spill, the Consortium is working towards two interrelated outcomes:

  • An improved knowledge base about the ways the DH oil spill has affected communities in the Gulf of Mexico region and what factors enhance or diminish resilience after the spill or similar events.
  • Evidence-based strategic planning and risk communication strategies for specific communities in areas relatively more exposed to the DH oil spill.

Both outcomes will provide long-term societal benefits by helping policy makers to identify specific actions that will mitigate future disaster impacts more effectively. Linking academic and practice institutions in our management model and integrating basic science and applied research within and across the Components will enable us to create products that are collectively used and informed by each audience.

Project Research Update (2017):

An update of the research activities from the GoMRI 2017 Meeting in New Orleans.

Direct link to the Research Update presentation.

Project Research Overview (2015):

An overview of the proposed research activities from the GoMRI 2015 Meeting in Houston.

Direct link to the Research Overview presentation.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.