The Resilience Research Centre // rrc@dal.ca // +1 902 494 3050

What is Resilience?

Most commonly, the term resilience has come to mean an individual's ability to overcome adversity and continue his or her normal development. However, the RRC uses a more ecological and culturally sensitive definition. Dr. Michael Ungar, Co-Director of the RRC, has suggested that resilience is better understood as follows:

“In the context of exposure to significant adversity, resilience is both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural, and physical resources that sustain their well-being, and their capacity individually and collectively to negotiate for these resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways.” (See also Ungar, 2008 and Ungar, 2011)

This definition shifts our understanding of resilience from an individual concept, popular with western-trained researchers and human services providers, to a more relational understanding of well-being embedded in a social-ecological framework. Understood this way, resilience requires individuals have the capacity to find resources that bolster well-being, while also emphasizing that it’s up to families, communities and governments to provide these resources in ways individuals value. In this sense, resilience is the result of both successful navigation to resources and negotiation for resources to be provided in meaningful ways. You can read more about resilience from this perspective in publications by the Centre’s members.

To explore resilience as both a process and outcome across many different cultures and contexts, the Resilience Research Centre coordinates a number of different research projects. Click here for a list of the projects currently underway.

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