818301 Environmental risks - introduction to risk analysis

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Gazsó, André
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


1. Risk and Science
Historical origins. Risk analysis and modern science
Scientific methodology, modern concept of time and technology.
Truth, reality and probability.
Around 1500 our ideas about world, nature and the human being have deeply changed. The term "risk" appears in early Renaissance for certain reasons and indicates a profound transformation of human thinking.

2. Definitions of risk, terminology and related concepts
What is the basic definition of risk? Which criteria do we need to describe risks? Does risk mean the same in different contexts? In this part different definitions and methods of risk analysis will be presented.

3. Introduction to methods of risk analysis, risk evaluation and risk management
Which fundamental methods of risk analysis exist to evauate possible adverse effects? In this part several methods of risk analysis and risk evaluation will be discussed. Moreover, the relation between risk analysis, risk evalutation and risk management will be presented.

4. Risk and its psychological and societal dimensions
What exactly means risk and safety for different groups of people? Which aspects modify our individual and group specific risk assessment? Why differs public risk evaluation from scientific risk assessment and why are both approaches legitimate? In this part the most important mechanisms of individual, societal and culture-specific risk evalauation will be discussed.

5. Introductiion to risk communication
How do we communcate about risks and safety? How do we discuss risks in public? Which role are different actor groups play in public technology choice debates especially regarding the discourse on possible hazards? Which specific rationales are taking effect in these communication processes? In this part the fundamental mechanisms and formats of actor specific and public risk communication will be presented.

6. Risk policy and risk governance
What does the concept "governance" mean and which political aims are intended? What is the difference between governance and traditional policy concepts? And what does all this mean for our handling of risk and safety related activities? In this part a more comprehensive approach to risk and safety policy will be discussed based on specific EU concepts like risk governance, responible research and innovation and safety by design.

7. Innovation and new technologies
What does the term "new" signify in connection with technology? How are innvoation and risk connected? In this term the relationship of innovation, risk and safety are discussed.

8. Risk governance and nano technologies
What are nanotechnologies and what do we expect from their application? Are there specific nano safety issues to be consideres and if so, what are the specific risks related to nanometarials and nanotechnologies? How can the implentation of nanotechnologies be regulated and how is this actially achieved? In the final part the recent developments of risk governance concerning nanomaterials and nanotechnologies will be presented and the Austrian governance instruments will be introduced.

Previous knowledge expected

None. Some willingness to discuss the baisc principles of te scientific approach to reality will be welcome.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

Students gain
- an overview of the terminology of risk research
- an overview of related terms and concepts related to the concept of risk
- an overview of risk assessment techniques and their comparability
- knowledge of the mechanisms of social risk evaluation and risk communication
- knowledge of policies related to the regulation of risk-related technologies
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.