Posted: October 19, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of population segments to physical, social, and economic upheaval.

Researchers in the college's Center for Economic and Community Development have created an online tool they hope will facilitate engagement and help policymakers and community leaders formulate solutions aimed at reducing this vulnerability while helping communities emerge from such adversity stronger than before.

Vulnerable Pennsylvanians in the Context of a Pandemic is a "StoryMap" that enables the user to click on interactive maps to learn about the prevalence of 12 vulnerability risk factors, such as poverty, health care coverage, and food insecurity, at the county and, in many cases, census-tract levels. Accompanying the maps at  are narrative text and several questions designed to stimulate thought and discussion.

"The conversation should be about more than just how we can mitigate the vulnerabilities, but also how we actually can get stronger in the face of this pandemic so that in the future, we're better prepared for the next crisis that comes along," said center co-director Theodore Alter, professor of agricultural, environmental, and regional economics. "It's not about returning to equilibrium, but about getting stronger, getting better, getting different, because the world is going to be different."

--Chuck Gill