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Meridian Institute

Campus Resilience Enhancement System (CaRES)

Related: Resilience

​In 2012, the Community and Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI) – which is housed at Meridian Institute – was asked by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a system of tools, resources, and processes to help college and university campuses become more resilient to a wide range of disruptions and disturbances. The effort became known as the Campus Resilience Enhancement System project, or CaRES.

In the first phase, the Meridian/CARRI team applied the DHS’s Whole Community Philosophy of emergency management and resilience, as well as more than six years of lessons from CARRI’s work with communities, to the challenges faced by U.S. colleges and universities. Seven schools – which were diverse in terms of size, geographic location, structure, and affiliation – participated in CaRES Phase I: Drexel University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Green River Community College, Navajo Technical College, Tougaloo College, Texas A&M University, and the University of San Francisco.

To begin, CARRI developed a baseline design for the system’s concepts, processes, resources, and tools. CARRI then assisted the schools in convening their leadership and students to help test and apply these tools and processes to their own campus emergency management and resilience challenges. The feedback, input, insights, and best practices of these seven partner schools were used to create the CaRES prototype – an interactive, web-based guide to building campus resilience.

The CaRES prototype can help to enhance the ability of colleges and universities to withstand unforeseen disruptions and crises, manage change, and seize emerging opportunities in increasingly turbulent times – in short, to build their resilience. CaRES Phase I also helped the schools reap the ancillary benefits of improved day-to-day operations and campus life as a result of taking action to strengthen their resilience.

In Phase II, CARRI worked with the seven partner schools to fully implement the CaRES assessment, action, and playbook building process. CARRI convened teams from all of the schools for training in use of the web-enabled tools and resources, as well as providing the campus teams with implementation support and technical assistance.  This Phase II work brought CaRES to a full operating capability and allowed DHS to make CaRES widely available to US colleges and universities.