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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Evidence in Risk – Risk in Evidence?


Professor Louise Bracken (Durham University) and Professor Heike Egner (Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt)


This panel will discuss the practices and challenges of evidence in risk-related fields of activity - be it in risk research, in risk management, risk reduction or in pursuing policies to decide how to address various risks for providing safety.

Dealing with risk requires taking decisions – right from the outset when defining a specific risk, to outlining its implications (for whom, when, under which circumstances) to proposing measurements to limit the probability of its occurrence. Since evidence is highly depending on the set of frameworks in which it is located, the evidence used for taking these decisions is far away from being ‘hard evidence’, but rather being arguable and contingent. Moreover, it is likely that what is understood and addressed as evidence differs in the various fields of risk activities and between different disciplinary perspectives. For instance, when the evidence gathered in risk research attaches value for creating a certain risk scenario that differs from the understanding of the evidence when the scenario is communicated to political leaders of the affected communities. There might even be cases when it is risky (for the researchers) to point to certain evidence (e.g. the controversy about what causes global environmental change, or the debate over sugar as a cause for many widespread diseases).

Colleagues from various risk-related fields of activity are welcome to submit proposals on any aspect of evidence in risk, exploring the dynamic nature of evidence, its formation and use in risk. Since the panel is part of the IAS Conference, proposals must be submitted through the IAS (see: https://www.dur.ac.uk/ias/decennial/papers/).