Risk Studies

This month geographers Pierpaolo Mudu and Elise Beck put out a call for papers for the next annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers. Their session will focus on the "social geography" of risk. Social–or human–geography is devoted to identifying cultural, political, and economic patterns that play out on the physical landscape.

 
Needless to say, every item in the list of session topics is a virtual Pandora’s box of risk. Here are a few of them: "natural" versus "non-natural" risk, perceptiion of risk, environmental risk analysis, different scales to map risks, vulnerability modeling (which I assume was comparative risk analysis).  There is lots of juicy fodder for folks who enjoy taking aim at uncertainty with their computers, especially because building models that address these topics often involves integrating GIS techniques with Monte Carlo software.

While I am intrigued by the almost unfathomable risks outlined in the call for papers and the thought of all those number-crunching social scientists who have only six months to plumb the depths of these topics, I was even more intrigued by the mention of what is apparently a new emerging academic field. It’s called risk studies–something like American studies, only for quant types who want to get to know the lay of the land.

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