This chapter addresses the conceptual processes of cognition of risk and its extension to collective cognition for whole communities, nations, and the global society as a primary step for mobilizing collective action to stop transmission of the deadly virus during the first six months of 2020. We introduce the concept of collective cognition, using an analytical framework of complex adaptive systems and outlining the concepts of complex time, space, scale, and energy – defined as information – that shape the context in which collective cognition emerges in response to a given threat. The chapter further illustrates the function of modeling as a means of discovery in uncertain, dynamic contexts and acknowledges that no single model is likely to fit any given situation. In dynamic contexts, the models may change as the hazard affects a community in different ways, generating different patterns of response and redirection of action. We outline a framework for comparative analysis of responses to COVID-19 that is echoed in subsequent chapters of the book: case studies of ten countries and the WHO, comparative assessment of response operations reported in the case studies, and concluding recommendations for strengthening collective action in addressing global threats.