We live in an increasingly complex, fast-paced, and volatile world. The stakes have never been higher, and it is no longer enough for scientists to throw information into the public sphere and hope that someone is able to understand and apply it. Indeed, it is now clear that scientists have a moral obligation to spend as much time, thought, and effort in the communication of their knowledge products as they do in the generation of the knowledge itself. If scientific voices are to be heard above the din, and, more importantly, used for personal, public, and political decision-making, then efficient and effective communication is essential. However, science communication, and particularly the communication of risk in the scientific context, is difficult to do well, especially without the appropriate training.
This textbook covers many of the principles of science communication, as well as the theory and practice of risk communication, specifically. The content is divided into three main sections: 1) the ‘mission’ (why you are communicating), 2) the ‘message’ (what you are communicating), and 3) the ‘medium’ (how you are communicating). We have tried to include enough diversity of ideas to give you something to ‘chew on’ regardless of your background, education, or experience in communication. However, the textbook is, and will always be, a work in progress. It will expand and mature each year as we continue our communication journey, learning from our students and the world around us.