Aim of the course
Toxicologists are becoming increasingly aware that the perception of risks by the general public may deviate from scientific evidence as people take other aspects into account as well. Recent examples include the public concern regarding electromagnetic fields and the anti-vaccination lobby. The aim of this course is to provide training in risk communication and perception for toxicologists, to enhance public understanding in risk assessment.

Content of the course
Both in online sessions and in a classroom setting lectures will be given by various experts from the field. Special attention will be paid to the possibilities and limitations of risk communication in practice. Through assignments the participants will gain practical experience in risk communication.

List of subjects:

  • Risk communication: theory; different models of risk communication
  • Factors determining risk perception (experts vs. general public)
  • Role of the (social) media (incl. press releases, speaking with reporters)
  • Participatory processes
  • Practice of risk communication and strategies by different actors (e.g., general public, NGOs, policy makers and scientists)
  • Presenting risk information: comparing the effect of different formats (words, numbers, graphs, comparisons, framing)
  • Theory on influencing behaviour and attitudes

Outcomes (competences, skills)
After following this course, the participant will be able to

  • describe several ways by which experts, civilians, police makers, media and interest groups approach risks
  • choose for a more informative or more persuasive communication strategy, based on arguments
  • understand and facilitate risk communicationprocesses

This course is explicitly NOT a communication skills training.

Lecturers:  to be determined

Student individual assignment (risk communication/layman’s pitch on own daily practice/research) will be assessed by experts and peers.

Coordinator: Dr. Marianne Bol-Schoenmakers and Dr. Mieke Lumens
Duration: 1 week (distant learning and on-site).
ECTS credits: 1.5
Fee:          see tuition fees (includes reduced fees for PhD students)
Location: distant learning from home location and on-site classes at the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Utrecht University.

The course requires a minimum of 10 participants. In case this number is not achieved, the course will be postponed to the next edition.
For general inquiries please contact the PET Office

To apply please proceed to course registration and for questions please contact the PET Office

Last updated: 3-Feb-22