Nuclear engineers have to be communicators; the very name of our field invites curiosity and questioning. Yet many, maybe most, nuclear engineering students get no formal training in communicating science to the public, let alone a deep dive into the field that studies the science of communicating science.

After a few requests, I decided to put together a short introductory list of journal articles for people interested in risk communication. This is barely enough to get your feet wet, but these papers cover topics from how and why people perceive risks to the values that influence whether people feel positively or negatively about nuclear power.

Disclaimer, I’m not an expert in science communication, I haven’t gotten to conduct research in the field (yet), but I have been learning from experts, taking graduate-level college courses, and most of all, reading the scientific literature for a few years now.

This is a living list. Last updated: June 8, 2020

If you’re looking for my slides from the 2020 ANS Annual Meeting presentation, you can find them HERE

Publicly available articles

Perception of Risk

Slovic, P. (1987). Perception of Risk. Science, 236(4799), 280–285. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/236/4799/280/tab-pdf.

The Future of Nuclear Power: Value Orientations and Risk Perception

Whitfield, S. C., Rosa, E. A., Dan, A., & Dietz, T. (2009). The Future of Nuclear Power: Value Orientations and Risk Perception. Risk Analysis, 29(3), 425–437. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6924.2008.01155.x

How Safe is Safe Enough? A Psychometric Study of Attitudes Towards Technological Risks and Benefits

Fischhoff, B., Slovic, P., Lichtenstein, S., Read, S., & Combs, B. (1978). How Safe is Safe Enough? A Psychometric Study of Attitudes Towards Technological Risks and Benefits. Policy Sciences, 9, 127–152. Available here

Seven Cardinal Rules of Risk Communication

Covello, V., & Allen, F. (1998). Seven Cardinal Rules of Risk Communication. US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Policy Analysis. Available from the EPA

I am not advocating going to Sci-Hub to get these papers, but you can find them there ;)

Science Literacy or Value Predisposition? A Meta-Analysis of Factors Predicting Public Perceptions of Benefits, Risks, and Acceptance of Nuclear Energy

Ho, S. S., Leong, A. D., Looi, J., Chen, L., Pang, N., & Jr, E. T. (2019). Science Literacy or Value Predisposition? A Meta-Analysis of Factors Predicting Public Perceptions of Benefits, Risks, and Acceptance of Nuclear Energy. Environmental Communication, 13(4), 457–471. https://doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2017.1394891

Books or book chapters

Social Theories of Risk

Available from Amazon

Two chapters of particular interest are by Rayner, Cultural Theory and Risk Analysis, and by Renn, Concepts of Risk: A Classification.

I want to specifically thank Professor Dominique Brossard in the department of Life Sciences Communication and Professor Vicki Bier in Industrial & Systems Engineering for being the ones to assign most of (potentially all?) of these readings to me and for teaching me so much.