The Superstorm Research Lab is the winner of the PSC-CUNY Environmental Health and Safety Watchdog's 2013 Clearing the Air Award, "given to the individual/group that best contributes to a better understanding of occupational or environmental health."

Thaward was given for the group's presentation at CUNY’s Twelfth Annual Nature, Ecology and Society Colloquium, "SuperStorm Sandy: Before, During & After"

About the presentation:

One of the major dilemmas facing contemporary urban governance and environmental action in the United States is the mismatch between
inherited political boundaries and emerging sociospatial urban realities. This project investigates what impact an event such as Sandy can have on such structures. The common assumption is that a heroic policy, NGO, or popular effort will be needed to transform inherited structures to overcome these mismatches. This project instead investigates what impact an event can have on such structures.

In Sewell’s (2005) terms, events are the fateful collective contingencies that interrupt the reproduction of structures. In the literature on crises and disasters, this is a familiar way to understand the unexpected and transformative impact such events can have on “business as usual”, and this project applies these insights to the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the structure of urban politics in the New York City area.

This paper is based on preliminary research with the Superstorm Research Lab collective. Based on interviews with policy actors, NGOs, first responders, and residents of affected areas, we ask how Sandy has potentially restructured patterns of governance and action based on stakeholder understandings of critical processes following Sandy.

About the Colloquium:

Hurricane Sandy had drastic impacts on 29 October, 2012. This year’s Nature Ecology Society Colloquium is intended to open up a conversation around Hurricane Sandy. We recognize that politics play a part in this conversation, that there are complex social and environment justice issues that have and need to be understood, and that there must be a rebuilding effort that is sensitive to all of these aspects. We hope this colloquium can be a space where presenters will openly interrogate these and other issues.

The Nature, Ecology and Society Network is the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Interdisciplinary Network for researchers, activists and other colleagues whose work is at the intersection of Nature Ecology and Society.