The participants visited the memorial at Virginia Tech.

Our conference, titled “Aftermath Dynamics in Critical Incidents,” took place during July 2009 on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  The conference participants together examined our understandings of the dynamics of the aftermaths of critical incidents. We examined questions such as:

  • How do aftermath dynamics fit with prevailing theories and concepts in critical incident analysis?
  • How do public and media narratives of incidents evolve during the aftermath?
  • Who are the stake-holders in aftermath dynamics?
  • Are there stages of aftermath dynamics?
  • Are there more constructive and more destructive dynamics?
  • Are there protective attributes of communities that mitigate risk and promote resilience following a critical incident?
  • Can aftermath dynamics be managed to mitigate trauma and promote healing?
  • Are there special issues for colleges and university incidents?
  • How is policy shaped during the aftermath of incidents?
  • What is the role of memorialization following an incident?
  • Are there understandings about aftermath dynamics that are fundamental to the field of critical incident analysis?

These general and theoretical questions were examined in the abstract, and based on what is known by those who have experienced critical incidents. The conference took place at Virginia Tech to facilitate the assessment of concepts “through the lens of the Virginia Tech incident” as the conference title explains. Presentations based on other incidents, such as the World Trade Center attack and the Columbine shooting, also informed the deliberations of the conference.

These proceedings, edited by Arnold “Skip” Isaacs, are based on recordings of the presentations and panels.  The conference was conducted based on an ACIA version of the “Chatham House Rule.”

The Rule

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.


The Chatham House Rule originated at Chatham House with the aim of providing anonymity to speakers and to encourage openness and the sharing of information. It is now used throughout the world as an aid to free discussion. Meetings do not have to take place at Chatham House, or be organized by Chatham House, to be held under the Rule.

Conference Interpretation

The identity and/or the affiliation of a speaker, or of any other participant, may be revealed with the permission of the speaker or participant involved.