Using the concept of urban vulnerability, we would like to discuss the specific coping and adaptive capacities of cities and their inhabitants in hazardous situations. In this frame social vulnerability and the vulnerability of the built environment are of high relevance. We draw our attention to natural hazards like floods, drought or fire which become a social catastrophe by human action and behavior. Three main points are in the focus: i. the concept of urban vulnerability with its specific characteristics in contrary of and as addition to other vulnerability concepts as base for discussing empirical cases and developing adaptation and management strategies, ii. results of empirical research and experiences of coping with hazards with special focus on the effected population, iii. observations and reflections on concrete experiences in bringing research results in practice action and decision making. On the example of both success stories as well as failures we will discuss the challenges of dealing with vulnerable situations in different social contexts. The scientific questions revolve around the level of preparedness to hazards, the adaptation, and the recovering from catastrophes. Within this context, communication strategies and trust are important in terms of distribution of appropriate information and behavior strategies. Based on empirical research results the exchange between scientists, planners and decision makers is simultaneously intended to evaluate the research results for being practice relevant. The overall aim of the session is to strengthen the interrelations and the contact between experts coming from research and from practice. What kind of scientific results do we need to generate in order to address specific knowledge in different urban habitats? Summarizing, how can we transfer scientific knowledge into professional practice?At the end of the symposium we would like to shape take home messages concerning what can we learn from each other and how can we improve our competences in dealing with uncertainties and surprises in vulnerable situations. Program Introduction: Kabisch/Garcia-Mira Presentation 1: Urban vulnerability concerning flood risk in growing and shrinking cities (Kuhlicke, Kabisch, …) Presentation 2: The social dimension of forest fires: efficient communication and participation in vulnerable human habitats. (Ricardo Garcia-Mira and Adina Dumitru) Presentation 3: Multiple vulnerabilities in informal neighbourhoods: conceptual and ethical issues between research and practice (Denise Piché) Presentation 4: …… (Clare Twigger-Ross) Conclusions: Kabisch/Garcia-Mira Corresponding author: SigrunKabisch, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany, [email protected]