Sustainability and Resilience to Disturbance and Change in Rural Taiwan Communities

While sustainable development remains the preferred paradigm for most land and community development actions taken by governments and enterprises today, for a variety of reasons (including politics and human nature) it is not achieving its theoretical potential. Resilience science and planning is an alternative conceptual and applied approach, theorized and promoted in recent years because its focus on adaptation (as opposed to sustainability's emphasis on mitigation/ prevention) appears better suited to incidents of rapid and often unpredictable change. There is, however, considerable debate in the literature over the fundamental relationship between resilience and sustainability, with some seeing them as the same, while others argue that they are diametrically opposed in their assumptions and approach. Resolving conceptual issues in sustainable development and resilience planning results in community planning models that are better able to address contemporary challenges ranging from climate change and natural disasters, to economic and social change driven by neoliberal globalization policies.

Core Research Questions: Our research seeks to understand four questions:

  • Q1. Are sustainability and resilience approaches different from one another in theory and practice?
  • Q2. Do sustainability and resilience approaches share commonalities in theory and practice?
  • Q3. Do geographic variables of site and situation affect the sustainability-resiliency relationship?

Primary Research Question: By unpacking the relationship through the three research questions above, we seek to address our primary research question:

  • Q4. Can sustainability and resilience be reconciled in a single community management and development framework?

If yes, how can this best be done in an effective manner? If no, what is the best alternative for societal guidance, informed by sustainability and resilience, to address the needs of our current period of significant social and environmental change?

Project Image


Alan A Lew


huang huangyujuan

Project Dates:

July 2014 to June 2016


resilience, sustainability, tourism, rural, development, Taiwan, disaster, slow change