We seek to understand and better manage the social environment surrounding real-life risks and crises through systematic scientific exploration and controlled examination. Through better understanding of the social environment surrounding risk and crisis, the goal of this research stream is to provide recommendations for self-protection to publics, help prevent loss of life, and develop resilience to international, national, or local risks and crises of various nature (i.e., natural disasters, organizational and government mishaps, health, and inter-and-intra state conflicts).

We examine risk and crisis events from various angles including:

Context: How do different settings/contexts influence message accessibility and interpretation?

Culture: How do different cultures respond to messages? How can messages be improved to better
account for cultural differences?

Message: How do audiences respond to different messages (i.e., content, length)? How can messages be improved to increase adherence to self-protective recommendations
and resilience?

Mode: How does the means by which a message is sent influence message accessibility, interpretation, and adherence to self-protective recommendations and


Our motto is: the right message at the right time can save lives.

Through the study of risk and crisis communication, students can aid the ways in which humans receive, digest, and respond to risks and crises. Developing a deep sense of the role of communication is also pivotal to being able to critically evaluate real-life events and understand the impact of messages on human cognition, behavior, and culture.

Why study communication? Communication is the guiding mechanism for the function of humanity, the development of civilizations, relationship development and maintenance, and the number one sought after characteristic by employers.



Conceptualizing and operationalizing abstract social scientific concepts

The use of communication theory to guide research and practice

Qualitative research methods (e.g., in-depth interviewing, focus groups, thematic analysis, case study)

Quantitative research methods (e.g., content analysis, correlation analysis, regression analysis)

All students will be trained and certified in CITI Institutional Review Board (IRB) Social and Behavioral Research