Risk Management and Public Participation

Subject GEOG90020 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 02-Mar-2015 to 31-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 13-Mar-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 08-May-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours
Total Time Commitment:

170 total time commitment

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry. It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the University’s programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Brian Cook


Faculty of Science


Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)
Email: 13MELB@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview:

This subject will provide students with the skills needed to examine, analyse, and report on risk management and public participation. The subject addresses the primary challenge of risk management, which involves determining what stakeholders want, analysing how they interpret risks, and understanding how their knowledge(s) shapes their behaviour. Added to this very complex topic is the question of how government can attempt to reshape that behaviour.

The subject will be available to social and physical scientists whose interests and/or research involve risk, vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience. It will be particularly appealing to students interested in how research can inform governance.

For greater detail please see: http://briansresearch.wordpress.com/teaching/risk-management-public-participation/

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students will:

  • understand and be able to compare a range of risk theories;
  • be able to apply numerous methods designed to elicit and assess perceptions relating to risk;
  • be familiar with different risk framings, included the debate over expert-lay knowledge;
  • be able to synthesise risk perception data;
  • be aware of the complicated process of risk communication and management (i.e. government-stakeholder interactions);
  • understand approaches to risk management or to public resistance to risk management.

1. Book Review: in the second week of class, students will be required to review one of 3 classic risk texts (worth 30% of final grade). This 1000 word review will provide students with a foundation in risk management and/or public participation – should students wish to propose alternate texts they must be given approval from the coordinator. The guidelines for the book review will follow those common to academic journals (details in class and on the LMS). In the week following return of marked book reviews, we will discuss and debate the relevance of the books (and the associated arguments or concepts) to the subject.

2. Presentation: each student (in groups depending on the numbers) will be required to lead an activity and discussion once per term (worth 20% of final grade). This (20 minute) oral presentation, plus an activity of the student’s choice, will allow students to develop, present, and lead discussion and debate exploring the topic of the week. Like the co-ordinator, students will be expected to upload their slides and materials in advance of class.

The presentations will be allocated during the first class of the term. In order to reward those who volunteer to present early in the term, every presentation is required to link the theme (and reading) to the subject. This means that with each passing week, the task of relating the presentation to the subject gets more complicated. This should not be a difficult task, though it will certainly be easier in week 3 than in week 11. More importantly, relating the reading to the subject as a whole is essential, and will be a key part of the assessment criteria.

The presentations represent a commitment by students to take responsibility for a topic, and to ensure that their colleagues understand – and have an opportunity to apply the concept. Similarly, the class shares in the commitment to learning; being an audience member is not a passive activity, but an active one that is worth 10% of the final mark. Students will be assessed on their level of engagement (i.e. have they done the readings) through the quality of their contributions (i.e. questions and participation during activities), and in their reflection on the session (through their constructive feedback to the presenter(s)).

3. Final Take Home Essay: This 2000 word final assessment (worth 40% of the final grade) will explore a risk management and public participation topic of the student’s choice. It will require concise, clear writing and analysis. Students will have the option of using their empirical research (i.e. from their Masters work) should they wish. Topic and methodology will be chosen by the student, but in consultation and subject to the approval of the subject coordinator. This will be due two weeks following the final lecture.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject pack will be assembled that draws together readings from academic journals, academic books, government policies, and public documents.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students will develop skills relating to:

  • qualitative research methods and analysis, particularly those associated with public participation;
  • critical thinking, having to engage with complex socio-ecological problems;
  • writing and presentation skills, including academic and government-oriented policy writing;
  • risk and environmental governance, including the expert-lay, public-government relationships.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Development
Integrated Water Catchment Management
Integrated Water Catchment Management
Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation

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