The Institute for Science, Society and Policy is a cross-faculty Institute at the University of Ottawa exploring the links between science, society and policy.

About @Risk

There is tension found within public decision-making when there is a difference in risk perception… between experts and other stakeholders, and a difference of opinion on how to mitigate risks.

@Risk: Strengthening Canada’s Ability to Manage Risk is identifying how to reconcile this tension because differences can lead to serious consequences, including the potential to put our current societal approach to risk management itself ‘at risk’.

@Risk will identify conceptual frameworks and mechanisms to strengthen Canada’s risk management capacity in situations where expert and lay public assessments of risk differ. This is a multidisciplinary partnership involving researchers from 11 Canadian and U.S. universities and 4 partner organizations.

The project is focused on 6 case studies in 3 sector clusters:

  • Energy cluster: high level nuclear waste disposal and hydraulic fracturing
  • Public Health cluster: vaccine hesitancy and mammography cancer screening
  • Genomics cluster: newborn screening and gene-edited dairy cattle


  • Probe if and how public values and public input are incorporated into risk management frameworks and broader policy and regulatory decisions
  • Begin to assess the extent and influence of motivated reasoning among actors
  • Begin to assess the role of risk information, communication and other practices/structures to account for motivated reasoning in risk decision-making
  • A survey instrument will be designed to test and compare the extent of motivated reasoning in the risk expert and public populations
  • Evaluate findings in relation to strengthening Canada’s capacity to manage risk
  • Identify gaps in scholarly and practitioner understanding of factors that strengthen risk management frameworks in situations where risk controversies are apparent or imminent

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