CPT-24306 Risk Communication


Studiepunten 6.00

Group work2
Excursion (one day)8
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. PM Poortvliet
Lecturer(s)dr. PM Poortvliet
dr. ing. M Knotters
dr. ir. R Hartemink
Examiner(s)dr. PM Poortvliet

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Introduction to Strategic Communication (CPT-12306), or Introduction to Communication and Innovation Studies (CPT-23804).


This intensive course provides insight into theoretical and practical-strategic matters of risk communication. Special attention will be given to risk communication in the context of the life sciences and life science technologies such as malaria, zoonoses, gene technology, flooding, climate change, novel agro-technologies, and food scares. In our rapidly changing knowledge society, experts and non-experts tend to have different appreciations of science and technology issues. What exactly is the nature of these differences and what are the communicative implications? We will discuss psychological theories regarding risk perception. How do people process complex information regarding particular risks and what is the role of emotions therein? How does media coverage of risks affect the public's sense of anxiety? Attention will also be paid to sociological theories of risk and trust. Is there a general mistrust of science and technology, and can this be explained by a trust or knowledge deficit of the public? Under what conditions are institutions capable of handling and communicating risks? Throughout the course assignments and group work help students to translate theoretical insights to risk communication practices based on their own choice. Students from the bachelor Communication and Life Sciences (BCL) are expected to work on a risk topic for the assignment that is related to their choice of track.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- explain the core theoretical concepts in the field of risk communication;
- identify relevant social processes related to the perception and acceptance of risks;
- analyse and evaluate current communication practices in the field of risk communication;
- apply these insights to develop practical suggestions for effective and legitimate forms of risk communication;
- analyse a case on the topic of a particular risk, report the results, and give a presentation on this study.


Part of the course is devoted to class teaching during which there will be ample opportunity for interaction and discussion;
- assignments will be conducted in project groups;
- during the course, students are expected to present (part of) their assignments;
- a full-day excursion is part of this course.


- written exam with open questions (40%);
- group assignment (45%)
- written assignment about excursion (15%).
Each component needs a minimum mark of 5.50 to pass.


To be announced.

Verplicht voor: BCLCommunication and Life SciencesBSc4WD
Keuze voor: MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc4WD
Verplicht voor: WUECLBSc Minor Communication in Life Science Contexts4WD
Keuze voor: WUDIRBSc Minor Disaster Risk and Resilience4WD