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Center on Risk

A university‐wide research, teaching, and engagement program focused on the detection, analysis, regulation, and mitigation of risk.
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Who we are

The Duke Center on Risk in Science & Society is a multidisciplinary collaboration focused on improving society’s capacity to analyze, anticipate, mitigate, and adapt to risks. Hosted at Duke’s Initiative for Science & Society, the Center on Risk builds on the university’s already significant risk‐related teaching and scholarship by fostering new partnerships across campus including the schools of engineering, law, policy, business, environment, medicine, nursing, and arts and sciences, as well as institutes and initiatives. More than 30 faculty have indicated interest so far.

Meet our Team

Risk Center Meeting

What inspires us

We seek to develop innovative methods, technologies, policies, and practices to confront the risks faced by society, both familiar and emerging, including, e.g., climate change, pollution, pandemic disease, food safety, cyber‐attacks, financial shocks, accidents, and terrorism. Key research topics include:

Extreme catastrophic risks: How do people perceive, gauge, and respond to risks with very low probability and catastrophic consequences, and how should this influence decision-making?

Interconnectedness, complexity, and tradeoffs: How can we better manage ancillary impacts – risk-risk tradeoffs such as co-benefits and countervailing harms – in complex, interconnected systems?

Ambiguity and deep uncertainty: How can society assess and plan for risks for which the causal mechanisms and probabilities of occurrence are poorly understood?

Resilience and adaptation: How can organizations develop resilient systems that dynamically adjust to new information, effectively recover from shocks, and respond positively to new opportunities?

Learning and adaptive regulation: How can regulatory systems be designed to keep up with evolving science, technology, and values, and incorporate learning to review and improve policies over time?

What We Do

We are working to grow an intellectual community that shares interests in risk by:

  • Hosting a series of Risk Watering Holes to bring scholars together in a social setting to give lightning talks that help identify shared academic interests and opportunities for collaboration.
  • Convening Head-to-Head events to present multiple perspectives on timely topics involving risk.
  • Inviting prominent visiting risk scholars to campus for seminars, meetings, and exchange of ideas.
  • Providing scholarships to students to present at professional events, e.g., the Society for Risk Analysis.
  • Leveraging Duke’s distinctive multi-disciplinary educational programs (e.g., Bass Connections, Data+, Story+, DukeImmerse, DukeEngage, FOCUS, Duke Conversations) to explore topics in risk– such as our ongoing series of “DeCIPHER” Bass Connections projects.
  • Exploring the opportunities and demand for new degree or certificate programs in risk at both the undergraduate and graduate/professional level.
  • Convening public sessions in the Triangle and in DC to promote our policy-relevant risk research.
  • Assisting with student career choice and job placement by hosting events with Triangle-area professionals in risk-related fields.
  • Providing support to newly-formed multi-disciplinary research groups to plan and prepare extramural funding proposals and to subsequently carry out these projects.


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