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Relational Approach to Risk Communication


Often, risks about extreme weather events (tropical cyclones, storm surge) are communicated by agencies but are ignored or not even seen by local residents. Why is this? There are many reasons. Our work addresses a key few. First, agency communication is written or spoken in "official" language or technical lingo, and one communication tends to sound like routine messages (and, being routine, do not call for people's attention). Secondly, the language is simply bureaucratic and can be simply technical, which does not speak to people directly. Thirdly, community residents are treated like objects, and people are simply dictated to regarding what they should know and do –this moves people to passivity.


For this reason, we have begun conceptualizing and implementing a Relational Model of Risk Communication. Click on the publications listed below to read more about it. Simply, communication (whether written or spoken) is designed as if it were being told face-to-face from one acquaintance or relative to another. Peer communication of this sort has a higher chance of being shared among peers. People are also encouraged, in workshops, to be active risk communicators and, moreover, to identify and do some actions to prepare for risk. Lastly, the relational approach appreciate everybody's role in helping spread knowledge even to the most isolated individuals in a community. This is why we are working with educational institutions to develop workshops to be used in primary school, the aim being to engage the youngest members of society to be local experts and communicators.

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