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About the project


The PublicDebate-Research Project is a research project based in the Adam Smith Business School of the University of Glasgow. It aims to generate high-impact, evidence-based resources to inform public debates about risk where there are strong power dynamics, weak evidential bases, and multiple interpretations and values are brought to bear on public debates about risk. Many underlying and salient mechanisms of power shape how individuals or groups think or feel about risk, including perceived vulnerabilities and exposure to that risk. The protection-motivation theory identifies risk perception and perceived response and self-efficacy as the influential critical factors motivating the uptake of protective behaviour. Therefore, risk perception is an essential predictor of success in the safety measures to mitigate risk, so, therefore, it is a critical component of risk management.


Key research questions of interest to this project: What is acceptable risk? How do we determine what to communicate or conceal? On what basis do we communicate risk? What evidence do we provide when we communicate risk? How should we balance priorities in risk communication, for example, public health vs. choice and freedom? How can hearers’ needs, concerns, and priorities be addressed in risk communication? How can uncertainty be accounted for in risk communication? These questions intersect with issues around power, expertise, communication, trust, evidence resistance, rationality, and precautionary principles. The aim is to understand the multi-dimensionality of risk communication to enhance engagement with risk science within local communities.

Through research, building multi-stakeholder collaborations and partnerships, developing creative and intellectual resources (e.g., films, videos, digital galleries, books), convening discussions, and engaging communities, the project will raise public awareness and understanding of the science and data around risk issues.


The outcome of this project will result in the development of risk communication and engagement solutions - policy, and practice, including engineered and technological-based solutions.


Principal Investigator:

Dr. Josephine Adekola

University of Glasgow web profile 

Dr Adekola's expertise is in disaster risk management. Her research explores the vulnerabilities within affected communities and the nature of the exposure. She views disasters as socially produced, recognising power asymmetries between groups and differences in expertise that shapes power, prestige, and privilege.

Dr Adekola's current research is on COVID-19 vaccine engagement in Scotland. The study considers COVID-19 as a disaster risk. It explores how stakeholders might collaboratively use science, and new technologies to create opportunities and solve societal problems for sustainable, resilient, and inclusive communities through enhanced understanding, policy and behavioral changes.

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