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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Risk, Regulation and Governance I (PGSP11336)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryRisk governance and regulation is a fundamental component of virtually all scientific and technological fields, whilst also being intrinsic to a variety of social and economic processes.
The International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) defines risk governance as "the identification, assessment, management, and communication of risks in a broad context. It includes the totality of actors, rules, conventions, processes, and mechanisms concerned with how relevant risk information is collected, analysed, and communicated; and how and by whom management decisions are taken and implemented." There are many approaches to risk governance and regulation, which largely reflects the different levels of risk, uncertainty and potential benefits of specific types of science, technology or socio-economic activity within or across a diverse range of sectors or 'risk fields'.
The application of any new technology, process or industry must have a carefully considered process of risk governance to mitigate risk of harm, and ideally in a way that does not hinder innovation. This introductory course on key concepts of risk governance and regulation is both a key component of the MSc BIG Programme, but will also appeal to students with more general interests in science, technology, management, policymaking and governance seeking a general introduction to the basic concepts, theory and practice of risk, governance and regulation.
Course description Week 1 Introduction to the Concepts of Risk, Risk-Assessment and Uncertainty
Week 2 Understanding Different Models of Risk-Governance and Regulation
Week 3 The Roles of Evidence and Expertise in Managing the Science-Policy
Week 4 Multi-Level and Networked Regulation and Governance for Emerging Risks
Week 5 Climate Change: A Case Study of a Risk Governance Process
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. The main aim of this course is to introduce students to the key concepts and practices surrounding risk-governance and regulation processes as they can be applied to a range of industries, technological sectors, and socio-economic issues, as well as enable students to begin characterising and applying different models of good risk governance in different contexts. The course will provide a generic introduction to the key concepts, theories and approaches to risk assessment, governance and regulation (including anticipatory risk governance, integrative risk governance, and risk-benefit analysis) and also explore the issue of how to manage emerging and complex risks; for example in the context of changing insurance practices.
    Students will be introduced to the challenges and bottlenecks in different types of risk-governance processes, as well as key theoretical, conceptual and empirical evidence through which to examine systemic issues around risk and uncertainty. Key issues will include state of the art in risk governance processes; risk framing in specific risk fields; distribution of risks and benefits; planning for uncertainty and surprise; and management of the science-policy interface, as well as the role of expertise and evidence in these governance processes. The complex interactions between regulation and innovation, and the extent to which the former often shapes the latter, will emerge throughout this course, as will the broader role of stakeholders and publics in governance processes.
  2. By the end of this course students will:
    * Understand the key, generic theoretical concepts in risk, governance and regulation and implications for innovation processes.
    * Be able to characterise different models of risk-governance and begin to apply them to a range of different sectors.
    * Be able to critically analyse and evaluate the divers and complex roles different stakeholder groups and publics can play in risk governance and regulation processes.
    * Have a theoretically based understanding of the role of evidence and expertise in decision-making around risk governance and regulation.
Reading List
The required readings are directly tied to each week's key objectives and learning outcomes. It is essential that they are read closely and all students will be expected to contribute to discussions around these readings. Additional readings are listed, where appropriate, to provide a broader overview of the topic and will be useful for further reflection and for the assessed coursework.

Week 1

Required Readings

Ulrich Beck Risk Society Summary (pdf to be provided)

Goldacre et al (2013) 'Bicycle Helmets and the Law', BMJ, 12 June 2013

Kasperson, R., O. Renn , P. Slovic , H. Brown , J. Emel , Robert Goble, J. Kasperson, S. Ratick (1988), 'The Social Amplification of Risk: A Conceptual Framework', Risk Analysis, 8(2): 177-87.

Mittra, J. (2007) 'Predictive Genetic Information and Access to Life Assurance: The Poverty of Genetic Exceptionalism', Biosocieties, 2 (3), pp. 349-373

Further Readings

Beck, U. (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, Ritter, M. (trs), London, Sage

Dingwall, R. (1999) '"Risk Society": The Cult of Theory and the Millennium?', Social Policy and Administration, vol. 33 no. 4, pp. 474-491

Bernstein, P. (1996), Against the Gods: The remarkable story of risk, New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Douglas, M. (1994), Risk and Blame: Essays in cultural theory, paperback edition, London: Routledge.

Engel, U. and H. Strasser (1998), 'Global Risks and Social Inequality: Critical remarks on the risk-society hypothesis', Canadian Journal of Sociology, 23: 91-103.

Garland, D. (2003), 'The Rise of Risk', pp. 48-86 in R.V. Ericson and A. Doyle (eds), Risk and Morality, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Giddens, A. (1999), 'Risk and Responsibility', 62 Modern Law Review 1.

Giddens, A. (2002) Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping Our Lives, London, Profile

Hacking, I. (1990), The Taming of Chance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Week 2

Required Readings

IRGC (2008) An introduction to the risk governance framework, IRGC, Geneva.

Karinen, R. & D.H.Guston, 'Towards Anticipatory Governance: The Experience with Nanotechnology', in Assessment Regimes of Technology

Klinke, A. & O. Renn (2011) 'Adaptive and Integrative Governance on Risk and Uncertainty', Journal of Risk Research, 15 (3), pp. 273-292

Further Readings

Hilgartner, S., N. Nelson and A. Geltzer (2008), 'The Anticipatory State: Making Policy-Relevant Knowledge about the Future', Science and Public Policy, 8(8): 546-606.

IRGC (2009) Risk Governance Deficits: An Analysis and Illustration of the most Common Deficits in Risk Governance, International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) Report 2009

Jasanoff, S. (2004). 'Ordering knowledge, ordering society'. In States of knowledge: The coproduction of science and social order, ed. S. Jasanoff, 13-45. London: Routledge.

Philbrick, M. (2010), 'An Anticipatory Governance Approach to Carbon Nanotubes', Risk Analysis, 30 (11), pp. 1708-1722

Renn, O. (2008) Risk Governance: Coping with Uncertainty in a Complex World, Earthscan, Risk in Society Series

Williams, R. (2006) 'Compressed Foresight and Narrative Bias: Pitfalls in Assessing High Technology Futures', Science as Culture, 15 (4), pp. 327-348

McQuaid, J. (2005) 'Developing an Integrated Approach to Risk: The ILGRA Network', in C. Lyall & J. Tait (eds) New Modes of Governance, Ashgate, London, pp. 89-107

Week 3

Required Readings

Collins, H M and Evans, R J (2002) 'The Third Wave of Science Studies: Studies of Expertise and Experience', Social Studies of Sciences, 32 (2): 235-96 (You should at the very least read pages 249-265 on expertise.)

Mittra, J. (2006) 'Genetic Exceptionalism and Precautionary Politics: Regulating for Uncertainty in Britain's Genetics and Insurance Policy Process', Science and Public Policy, 33 (8) pp. 585-600

Shaxson, L (2005), "Is Your Evidence Robust Enough? Questions for Policy Makers and Practitioners", Evidence & Policy, 1(1), pages 101-111.

Further Readings

De Marchi, B. & Ravetz, R. (1999) Risk management and governance: a post-normal science approach, Futures, 31, 743-757.

Faulkner, W. (1998), 'Knowledge Flows in Innovation', pp.173-95 in R. Williams, W. Faulkner and J. Fleck (eds), Exploring Expertise, London: Macmillan Press.

Freudenburg, W.R. (1988), 'Perceived Risk, Real Risk: Social science and the art of probabilistic risk assessment', Science, 242: 44 - 49.

OECD (2003) Emerging Risks in the 21st Century: An Agenda for Action,

Rutgers, M R & M A Mentzel (1999), "Scientific Expertise and Public Policy: Regulating Paradoxes", Science and Public Policy, 26 (3), pages 146-161

Tenbensel, T (2004), "Does more Evidence Lead to Better Policy? The implications of Explicit Priority-Setting in New Zealand's Health Policy for Evidence-Based Policy", Policy Studies, 25(3), pages 189-207.

Weingart, P (1999), 'Scientific Expertise and Political Accountability: Paradoxes of Science in Politics', Science and Public Policy, 26 (3), pages 151-161

Karin Bäckstrand & Eva Lövbrand (2006) "Planting Trees to Mitigate Climate Change. Contested Discourses of Ecological Modernization, Green Governmentality and Civic Environmentalism", Global Environmental Politics Vol 6, No. 1, pp. 51-71.

Karin Bäckstrand & Eva Lövbrand, "Contested Climate: Competing Discourses of Planetary Management, Market Efficiency and Ecological Justice" in Mary Pettenger (ed.) The Social Construction of Climate Change, London: Ashgate

Week 4

Required Readings

Cliff, D. (2010) 'Networked Governance in the Global Financial Markets'

Lyall, C. (2007), "Changing boundaries: the role of policy networks in the multi-level governance of science and innovation", Science and Public Policy, 34/1, 3-14.

Mackenzie, D. (2009) 'Beneath all the toxic acronyms lies a basic cultural issue', Financial Times, Thursday November 26th, 2009

Further Readings

Lyall, C. (2007), "Changing boundaries: the role of policy networks in the multi-level governance of science and innovation", Science and Public Policy, 34/1, 3-14.

Mackenzie, D. (2011) 'The Credit Crisis as a Problem in the Sociology of Knowledge', American Journal of Sociology, 116 (6), pp. 1178-1841

Guy Peters, B. & Pierre, J. (2004) Multi-level governance and democracy: a Faustian bargain? IN Bache I. & Flinders, M. (Eds.) Multi-level governance. Oxford, Oxford University Press

Rhodes, R. A. W. (1997) 'Understanding Governance: policy networks, governance, reflexivity and accountability', Buckingham, Open University Press.

Week 5

Required Reading

RiskBridge Report, SAS6-CT-2006-036661, Chapter 3, 'Climate Change', pp. 32-70 (

Webb, J. (2011) 'Making Climate Change Governable: the Case of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment and Adaptation Panning', Science and Public Policy, 38 (4), pp. 279-292

Further Readings

Bulkeley, H. (2001) 'Governing climate change: the politics of risk society?' Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 26, 430-447

Karin Bäckstrand (2002) 'Precaution, Scientisation or Deliberation: Greening Environmental Decision-Making', paper presented at ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Turin, March 22-27

Karin Bäckstrand & Eva Lövbrand, "Contested Climate: Competing Discourses of Planetary Management, Market Efficiency and Ecological Justice" in Mary Pettenger (ed.) The Social Construction of Climate Change, London: Ashgate

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr James Mittra
Tel: (0131 6)50 2453
Course secretaryMiss Jade Birkin
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659
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