Research Output
Science communication & sensitive issues: putting risk in context
  One of the global challenges the world faces is the possibility of a chemical or nuclear attack by terrorists or a rogue state, or of an accidental nuclear disaster. With a breakdown in diplomacy between the USA and North Korea and tensions between both nations running high, a nuclear war is not outside the realm of possibility. We now see international diplomacy reduced to tit-for-tat personal attacks between the leaders of both these nations on Twitter and North Korean press releases but how likely is it that the Northern Hemisphere faces nuclear obliteration? And if there is a nuclear attack – or an accidental discharge – how should nationals and organizations such as NATO communicate with the public pre-, during, and post-nuclear strike?

If the world were to face a nuclear disaster – accidental or otherwise – responses are already in place for high-dose exposure. But the vast majority of humans and non-human species will be exposed to a low dosage of radiation. We know that the public already perceive all exposure to radiation as harmful, so risk communication in this context faces its own unique challenges, not to mention a public lack of trust in scientists and political organizations. This presentation examines the role of effective science and risk communication by nations and international organizations such as NATO in effective public engagement, drawing on best practice within the field of public engagement.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    28 November 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Kerr, G. (2017, November). Science communication & sensitive issues: putting risk in context. Presented at NATO BRITE Advanced Research Workshop, Yerevan, Armenia



science communication; risk management; public engagement; nuclear event; diplomacy

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