University Research half day event on Risk

Research Development, Research Support.

The latest University Research half day on the topic of risk took place in late November 2011.

The event saw presentations from staff of the Centre for Software Reliability and the giCentre in the School of Informatics, Cass Business School, the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the School of Health Sciences and the City Law School. 35 individuals from across the University attended the event.

The individual presentations covered issues of risk in a variety of settings and areas, including: managing safety risks in the airline industry; professionals’ and women’s perceptions of risks associated with childbirth in different birth settings; risks of software failure in nuclear reactors and how these could potentially be mitigated; potential legislative issues surrounding the plain packaging of tobacco products, and the geographical visualisation of risk for the insurance industry for natural catastrophes between countries.

A common theme underpinning the presentations was the association of risk with undesirable events – the different consequences arising from such events happening or not happening, and the measurement and control of the uncertainty associated with events. This raises questions as to how risk can reasonably be quantified and measured. Different specifications of risk events were given in the presentations. For example, airline, software, childbirth, system-malfunctioning and other types of accidents were considered. Different discipline areas use different definitions and models of risk, but all the presentations attached costs to the risk as a measure, be it economic, or emotional or physical (e.g. health) impact on people, including cost as the absence of gain. All this raises questions on how risk can be measured and quantified in these different discipline areas, using existing quantitative methodologies.

As a follow up to this event, a research seminar on risk is being planned for May 2012 to provide an opportunity for more discussion of these more theoretical aspects. More details will follow shortly.

Dr Enrico Bonadio from the City Law School, one of the half day presenters, is also the Associate Editor of the European Journal of Risk Regulation (EJRR), a recently launched journal which provides an innovative forum for informed discussion on how risks are regulated across policy domains in Europe and beyond. Its central focus is the European Law and Policy regulating inter alia product (chemical, food, pharma), financial, insurance and lifestyle (nutrition, alcohol, tobacco) risks as well as risks emerging from technology and third-party threats such as terrorism. The Journal would welcome contributions: please contact Dr Bonadio for further information.

The event was organised by Professor Peter Ayton (Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences), Professor Martin Caraher (Centre for Food Policy, School of Health Sciences), Professor Vladimir K. Kaishev (Faculty of Actuarial Science and Insurance, Cass Business School), and Anna Ramberg and Jo Bradford (University Research Office).

The research half-days provide an open forum to share interests and problems and explore issues which may be common across disciplines. Ideas on any subjects that could form the basis of a half day event are invited; these can be sent to Anna Ramberg (anna.ramberg.1@city.ac.uk). There is no restriction on frequency of events, provided that suitable space can be obtained.

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