• Professor and Director of Extreme Events Research, Office of the Vice President for Research, Richard Olson’s early work focused on economic sanctions and coercion, primarily in First World-Third World relations, and was published in World Politics and The Journal of Developing Areas. Starting in the 1980's, and based on both research and field experiences, Professor Olson moved into the multidisciplinary field of disaster research, arguing for understanding and analyzing disasters and catastrophes as inherently and inescapably political, and often as crises. With substantial funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and later the United States Agency for International Development, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), Professor Olson turned his attention to the “Politics of Disaster.” His work in this area includes The Politics of Earthquake Prediction (Princeton University Press, 1989) and Some Buildings Just Can't Dance: Oakland, California after the Loma Prieta Earthquake (JAI/Elsevier, 1999), various monographs and a variety of articles (both single and co-authored) in such journals as Science, Policy Studies Review, Omega, the Journal of Politics, and the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters.

research interests

  • Politics of Disaster, Politics of Disaster Risk Reduction, Critical Juncture Theory, Genocide, Latin American Politics

selected scholarly works & creative activities

chaired theses and dissertations

principal investigator on


full name

  • Richard Olson


publication subject areas