Risk Communication: a necessary skill for our fellows and all scientists
Scientists are trained to communicate to their peers. We aim for the highest possible precision and accuracy. We are reluctant to make statements which are not 100% validated and verified. We rather add details and clarifications rather than losing information for the sake of general understanding. Moreover, we always count with scientific publications and data sets as backup, and we are glad to refer to them to support our statements.
This is of course perfect to communicate with our fellow colleagues. But the scenario changes radically when the target audience is the general public, the media, public authorities, etc. And certainly, this approach it not useful in two scenarios where we don’t have the 100% certainty: Description of real or perceived risks which are under investigation, and comments about accidents of any kind that have already happened. The skills needed here are risk communication and crisis communication.
The nanosafety field is currently quite a controversial arena, where several stakeholders (including the regulators and public authorities, civil associations and the media) take part. Scientists have a responsibility in informing them and even shaping the opinion of the general public and other key actors. In this regard, it very important that all researchers working in the field -including, of course, our NanoTOES fellows- are duly prepared for this task.
In response to this need, NanoTOES has joined forces with another Marie Curie Initial Training Network (the project EIMID, http://www.eimid.org/), to organize a Course on Risk Communication, which was held in Salzburg during April 16-18, 2012.With the participation of
· Michael Mair (ORF/Austrian TV)
· Hannes Eichmann (ORF/Austrian Radio)
· Andreas Windischbauer (Public Relations Agency IKP)
· Thomas Steinmaurer (University of Salzburg)
the training was composed of several lectures and practical activities, including individual mock radio and TV interviews to all fellows. The course culminated with preparation of booklet prepared collectively by all the fellows, summarizing all the learned lessons and key advice.
Course Booklet: Communicating Science, Risk Communication and Strategies in case of Crises.
Video interviews and other materials (NanoTOES members access only)