Risk Communication | RIC 301

Instructor: Sophia Kaitatzi-Whitlock

Course Description
The course presents the full array of major risks facing humanity universally and concerning both nature and social organization: environmental sustainability, public health, extreme inequality / poverty, migrations. Seen both from the political economy and communications perspective such challenges are examined through the lens of how usefully they are reported about. Key professional practice issues arise concerning whether severe risks and challenges should be mediated alternatively. ‘Risk Communication’ elucidates such options, discussing the need for ‘proactive journalism’, fostering conscious and conscientious actors: i.e. policy-makers and citizens who contribute to sustainable natural and socio-economic environment.


Course Objectives

  • Familiarize with concepts of ‘environmental risk’, ‘social crises’, ‘global public goods’
  • Distinguish diverse categories of interlinked risks and challenges
  • Grasp consequential irreversible impact of environmental risks / crises on large populations
  • Elaborate with notions of ‘normative journalism’ for global awareness and rescue
  • Come to terms with non-partisan, activist types of journalism.


Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify environmental risks and their concrete impact on society
  2. Capacity to analyze risks critically from a multi-stakeholder perspective
  3. Ability to compare risks and stakes between competing interests of various kinds, while considering and defending the ‘public interest’
  4. Construct proactive journalism methods: defending ‘global public goods’ and the universal common interest
  5. Approach humanity’s welfare risks beyond borders or nationalistic scope


Class/Learning activities

Lectures, workshops, in situ study-visits, group simulation workshops, in-class presentations, literature study, written assignments.



Type of work


Lectures Thirteen 3-hours lectures 39
Simulation of roles in group work Coordination of role play-acting and group work 20-25
Independent study Study of required and optional literature 40-45
Research Off- and Online research 35-40
Written assignments-Presentations Written assignments

  1. in-class oral presetantion and defense of main assignment
  2. submitting of the written essay of 3000 words (plus/minus 500)
Total workload 254-289



Type of assessment

Learning outcome

Impact on final grade

Date of assessment
Participation in group work and discussion 1-5 20% Regularly
Preliminary Oral Presentation (of written) assignment 1-5 20% 8th-12th week
Simulating of Roles workshops 3-4 20% 5th-8th week
Submit written assignment (essay) 1-5 40% 14th week


Required Reading

Beck Ulrich, (1991), ‘Risk Society’, Cambridge, Polity Press,

Beck Ulrich, (2007), ‘World at Risk’, Cambridge, Polity Press

in Maxwell R. et al. ‘Media and the Ecological Crisis’, (eds), New York, Routledge

Kaul, Inge, Isabelle Grunberg & Mark A.Stern, (eds), (1999) ‘Global Public Goods’, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Maxwell Richard, Jon Raundalen, Nina Lager Vestberg, (2014), ‘Media and the Ecological Crisis’, (eds), New York, Routledge

Sophia Kaitatzi-Whitlock, (2014), ‘E-waste, Human Waste, Infoflation’,

Stig A. Nohrstedt (ed), (2010), ‘Communicating Risks: Towards the Threat Society?’, Gothenburg, NORDICOM


Additional Essay-supporting Reading List

Beck Ulrich, (1988), ‘What Is Globalization?’ Polity Press, Cambridge

Crenson A. Matthew (1971), ‘The Unpolitics of Air Pollution’, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore & London

European Union, Commission, (2008), ‘A sustainable Future in Our Hands: guide to the EU’s sustainable development strategy’, CEC, Luxembourg

George Soros, (1998), ‘The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Open Society Endangered’, New York, Public Affairs

Gorz Andre, (1980), ‘Ecology as Politics’, South End Press, Boston

Habermas Jurgen, (2003), ‘The Future of Human Nature’, Cambridge, Polity

Löfstedt Ragnar & Boholm Åsa, (2009), ‘Risk’, (eds), London, EarthScan Publishing

Martin Rees, (2003), ‘Our Final Century: will the human race survive the twenty-first century?’, London, Heinemann

Naomi Klein, (2008), ‘The Shock Doctrine’; Toronto, Random House Limited

Ralston Saul John (1995), ‘The Unconscious Civilization’ , New York, Free Press


Other educational materials:


Ferguson Charles (2011), ‘Inside job’, an Oskar winning documentary on the global financial crisis and its ‘reporting’ can be downloaded in full at the following:


Fiction Films

Karen Silkwood, 1983, Mike Nichols

The China Syndrome, 1979, James Bridges

The Insider, 1999, Michel Mann

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