Bristol Environmental Risk Research Centre (BRISK) was established by the University in 2009. Its aim is to coordinate, promote and advance interdisciplinary research across the natural, engineering and social sciences in environmental hazard risk assessment and uncertainty science.
Disaster losses stem from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, cyclones and other major storms, floods, landslides, wildfires, heat waves and droughts. Similarly, disease epidemics and the effects of pollution and agricultural disasters all appear to have ever-increasing impact and are intimately linked to environmental change.
“The Bristol Environmental Risk Research Centre (BRISK) provides quantitative risk assessment for environmental hazards, focusing on the needs of decision-makers, but informed to the fullest extent possible by the underlying science. BRISK operates as a virtual centre, facilitating interaction and knowledge-transfer by linking scientists across disciplines, and linking scientists with decision-makers. A core part of its activity is to develop cross-disciplinary skills in the next generation of researchers, through training and collaborations.”
Science has only been marginally successful at making societies more resilient to risks and has struggled to communicate scientific knowledge effectively, especially where there are large uncertainties. The problem is not so much that there is a lack of knowledge, although there is always room for improvement, but rather the twin gulfs that exist between experts in different disciplines, and between experts and society at large. Scientific risk assessment and effective risk communication are central to achieving better outcomes.
Risk is a rich and complex multi-dimensional concept, and it is clear that more attention needs to be given to how risk is defined, evaluated and communicated. A scientific and multi-faceted participatory approach for dealing strategically with natural and environmental risk must be strongly interdisciplinary. However, developing such cross-cutting approaches has often proved to be an intractable challenge for contemporary academia.
BRISK aims to address these urgent needs, to draw on specialist ‘scientific’ understandings of risk from a wide range of disciplines and to deliver effective communication of risk and robust solutions that make societies more resilient.
BRISK will increase capacity-building in risk and uncertainty science through a world-class inter-disciplinary research programme focused on natural and environmental risks.
Bristol scientists lead the way in risk theory, the analysis of uncertainty, global environmental change research, technological approaches to risk reduction, and the development of risk assessment methods. Our expertise derives from an explicit strategy of developing powerful research teams in key science areas related to natural hazards, innovative technologies and environmental change. Bristol has a wide range of departments with world-class expertise in mathematics and statistics, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, veterinary sciences, climate change, chemistry and geosciences, augmented by expertise in experimental psychology, social sciences, economics, law, politics and management.
Natural and environmental hazards expertise includes: