Risk, Public Policy & Law (3 credits)

This seminar will focus on how concepts of risk serve to justify and shape public policies, legal rules, and risk management practices. It will introduce some of the primary methods for analyzing potentially risky policies and managing risk. We will begin with a focus on the definition of risk as it applies to public policy, and as it has been used to analyze and inform policies and laws designed to address risks. We will then turn to the differences between formal assessments of risk and the “perceived risks” and social, political and institutional responses that typically drive public policy. These concepts will then be applied to a set of specific cases in current public policies that involve the intersection of environmental, energy, natural disaster, and security concerns.