Lessons from History
Resilience has a lengthy history of practice and implementation for events of extreme consequence and high uncertainty. One of the clearest cases of embryonic resilience thinking includes Medieval Venice, which was forced to grapple with the recurring threat of plague that threatened to destroy the fabric of European society and cripple the juggernaut of Venetian maritime trade (Linkov et al. 2014a, b, c, d, e; Lane 1973). This early resilience thinking did not fully inoculate Venetian society from the ravages of disease—on the contrary, limitations of medical knowledge and border control allowed for outbreaks throughout the early modern era—yet it did allow Venetian policymakers to begin to address the question of how to combat deadly disease. The cumulative successes in reducing disease incidence and spread throughout the city and its dependent settlements eventually brought policymakers to embrace resilience thinking for other unrelated projects ranging from climate change to land reclamation efforts—all centered on the idea of strengthening Venetian social, economic, and cultural capabilities in the midst of an uncertain future (Vergano and Nunes 2007; Linkov et al. 2014a, b, c, d, e). This all goes to show that while resilience thinking and resilience analysis are growing buzzwords in the early twenty-first century, their roots go back centuries before even the printing press or functional medicine.
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