understanding risk

Interdisciplinary pressure cooker- environmental risk communication skills for the next generation

This article presents a “pressure cooker” approach for building interdisciplinary risk communication capacity in young professionals via an intensive 24 h workshop. The event successfully brought together 35 participants from around the world to work on real-world environmental hazard/risk communication challenges for two areas in Mexico. Participants worked in interdisciplinary teams, following a three-step iterative process, with support from mentors and a range of specialists to develop risk communication outputs. Feedback surveys indicate that the workshop met its goal of improving participants' knowledge of risk communication and interdisciplinary working. The workshop resulted in an interdisciplinary community of researchers and practitioners, including organisers, participants and supporting specialists, which was still active after the event. It is recommended that such interdisciplinary workshops are used to build the capacity to tackle complex challenges, such as risk communication, but they require further testing. Insights into the design and implementation of such interdisciplinary workshops are given (e.g. team design, use of preparatory materials, and engagement of specialists and local stakeholders are presented), including critiques of challenges raised by the workshop participants. Guidance is provided to those interested in applying a pressure cooker approach and further adaptations of the approach are welcomed.