SHEtalks: Paradoxes and ambivalences in risk communication
Paradoxes and ambivalences in risk communication about the pandemic and climate change: What are the learnings for sustainable healthcare education?
With the steady flow of risk messages about the pandemic and climate change, the 2020s have reminded us viscerally of our human frailty to novel viruses and the vulnerability of our planetary home to climate change. In many ways, the institutional/mainstream risk communication we encountered about the pandemic and climate change followed familiar patterns: the risks were presented as underpinned by science, and risk communication mainly involved one-way communication where nations and communities were addressed. However, risk communication was clearly also under pressure at this time, and on closer analysis, was beset by paradoxes and ambivalences. This presentation will dive into ten of these and encourage discussion of more.
Risk communication is notoriously difficult in practice, and the field of risk communication has often ruminated on how it can become more effective. However, recent experiences of risk communication suggest the need for greater focus on its inner workings – going into the “machine room” of risk communication. Believing in the value of going beyond “whether” questions and asking “how” questions, this presentation argues that a fruitful way forward involves problematization, reflexivity, the extra optics of transdisciplinarity and ethical deliberation. We will discuss how such approaches may also be able to help support the education of change agents in the area of sustainable health care.
Antoinette Mary Fage-Butler holds a PhD in Knowledge Communication from Aarhus University, Denmark, where she is currently an Associate Professor. Her research interests include risk communication, trust as a sociocultural phenomenon and health communication from authorities to the public. She is PI of the (Mis)trust of Scientific Expertise group at Aarhus University.
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