1 2 Ann Bostrom , Steven P. French 1,2 Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA st The first years of the 21 century brought horrific loss of life and property from earthquakes and tsunamis worldwide. Briefly, the world focused on international disaster prevention, response and recovery. Terrorism loomed large as well, after 9–11, leading to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, and a plethora of related efforts globally. Many of these focus on the built environment. In the U.S. and elsewhere, large-scale infrastructure is stressed; roads, bridges, sewers, and dams built in the last century are deteriorating. Rising population is taxing existing infrastructure more and more as its reliability declines. As a society, we are developing dependencies on new kinds of infrastructure; these too are fragile and may age even less gracefully than sewers and roads. Our infrastructure – including human services, financial, and information – is both increasingly vulnerable and increasingly critical to society. Around the world, we are extending the built environment into incre- ingly fragile natural environments, raising the potential for catastrophe from natural disasters. Social, economic and environmental disparities are also growing between groups, both within the U.S. and between developed and developing countries, putting vulnerable groups even more at risk from extreme events.