The CRCR seeks to develop new pathways for understanding and managing technological and environmental risks. The CRCR maintains an expanding network of affiliated researchers from other universities, national laboratories, and federal agencies to assist in both defining and utilizing new and unexpected opportunities for research and public policy analysis.
Understanding how societies address the stages of emergency management
Mankind has always been faced with unexpected occurrences and has sought ways to be better prepared to prevent and respond to these events. These events can range from relatively low consequence emergencies, to larger consequence crisis, and ultimately to high consequence, widespread disasters. The CRCR has undertaken extensive research in the matter of understanding how societies address the stages of emergency management which includes mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. Each of these phases offers unique considerations, as well as being heavily influence by each of the other phases as well.
State energy assurance planning
Recently, the CRCR has conducted a study of state energy assurance planning, focusing on the state of Oklahoma’s energy assurance efforts. Energy assurance in Oklahoma is particularly challenging with the regular occurrence of catastrophic ice storms, frequent strong storms, as well as impacts from the recent drought on energy production. Energy assurance has a tremendous amount of interdepencies which must each be considered in order to develop a robust understanding of the risks posed, likelihood of the occurrence of particular events, as well as the impacts that result from an occurrence. The final report from this effort is being utilized by the state of Oklahoma to formulate and codify the state’s energy assurance plan.
National Security and Nuclear Policies
Four related dimensions of security, risk, and crisis management
The National Security and Nuclear Policies project conducts research into mass and elite opinions on four related dimensions of security, risk, and crisis management:
- Nuclear security, to include public perspectives on the evolving post-Cold War security environment, nuclear proliferation, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control and disarmament, support for sustaining nuclear weapons infrastructures, nuclear risks and crisis management, and beliefs about the nuclear future
- Security from terrorism, including public perceptions of the evolving terror threat, homeland security and response crisis management, progress in the struggle against terrorism, and relationships between policies to combat terrorism and their implications for individual liberties
- Energy security, to include perceptions and factual knowledge about energy resources and management, outlooks on future energy sufficiency, preferences for energy sources and production, concerns about energy independence, and beliefs about risks and benefits of nuclear energy, and policy preferences for managing nuclear materials
- Environmental security, including public knowledge and beliefs regarding the state of the environment, beliefs about global climate change, understandings of scientific opinion and technical debates on environmental security, and relationships between energy security and environmental security
Evolution of mass opinion on multiple dimensions of security
Begun in 1993, this ongoing project provides unique trend information about the evolution of mass opinion on multiple dimensions of security. To date, it includes 23 focus groups in 10 cities, more than 30 national phone and Internet surveys of the American public and one phone survey of the British public, postal surveys of numerous elite communities in the US and Europe, face-to-face interviews with policy experts, and more than 50,000 participants from the United States and Europe. Publications include numerous technical reports, academic articles, and the book titled Critical Masses and Critical Choices: Evolving Public Opinion on Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, and Security.
Public Attention and New Media Project
Cycling of public attention
Public attention denotes the amount of time that members of the public spend thinking about a particular topic or issue. The cycling of public attention influences politics and policy in a number of important ways. At the most basic level, public attention sends signals to policymakers about what they should be concerned about. Often times, this concern prompts policy change. For example, heightened attention to the myriad of risks surrounding radioactive waste management (RWM) alerts policymakers that they should be concerned about the issue and doing something about it.
Research on public attention
In our research on public attention, we focus on three things. First, we look to specify how, when, and why public attention influences the policymaking process. For instance, what happens to RWM policy when the public is highly attentive to the issue for a sustained period of time? Second, we study the factors that cause public attention to fluctuate over time. In particular, we are interested in the way that individual and collective risk perceptions stoke public anxiety, which often instigates surges in public attentiveness. For example, how do events like Three Mile Island or the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incident influence public attention to RWM policy in the United States? Third, we are working with researchers in other disciplines (like public health and epidemiology) to construct and validate ‘real-time’ metrics of public attention based on data from new media. Currently, we are collecting data on multiple issues from two sources—Internet search trends and microblogs like Twitter. These dynamic metrics allow us to track attention to issues like RWM policy, weather and natural disasters, which is critical to answering questions about the causes and effects of public attention over time.
Siting Nuclear Facilities
Understanding the dynamics of siting
Siting nuclear fuel cycle facilities is complex, and predicting outcomes of siting efforts is extremely challenging. A clearer understanding of the dynamics of siting can facilitate the many challenges associated with the siting process and help reduce the associated uncertainties. Accordingly, we are interested in determining which factors are crucial for the successful or unsuccessful siting of nuclear facilities.
Dynamics of the policy process
In our research, we focus on the dynamics of the policy process and factors such as institutional configuration, political climate, economic environment, stakeholder involvement/engagement, and scientific/technical challenges. For example, is siting less or more contentious in federal systems? Which approach to stakeholder involvement/engagement is most effective when siting a used fuel repository?
In addition to our existing research efforts for studying nuclear facilities within the United States, we look at other international cases including India, Sweden, South Korea, and France. Employing a comparative methodology, we find, is most effective for understanding the general factors that affect siting in most cases. Furthermore, the comparative perspective highlights unique factors that impact specific cases due to their distinct social, political, and economic characteristics. For example, scientific/technical challenges associated with a particular site may have a similar impact on the siting process across cases. However, the nation’s distinct social and political culture requires different approaches to stakeholder involvement/engagement. In current and future research efforts, we will continue to add more cases to our research and refine concepts such as host community, stakeholder engagement, and veto players.
Vaccine Risk Perception and Behavior
Explaining variations in risk perceptions
In the area of public health risks, the CRCR has undertaken extensive research on the manner in which the public understands the risks and benefits of mandatory vaccine programs. Given declining rates of vaccination among children in the US, and the apparent re-emergence of the threat of preventable contagious diseases, what explains variations in risk perceptions, policy preferences and choices regarding childhood vaccinations?
Enhancing effectiveness of vaccine risk communication and management
One CRCR study, undertaken in 2010, utilized focus groups and a representative Internet sample of 1,213 adults to study the ways in which individuals’ cultural orientations shape differing opinions on benefits and risks associated with vaccinations. The study also analyzed preferences for vaccination policies, including mandatory vaccinations and religious/philosophical exemptions from such mandates. This project contributed to the PBS Frontline episode entitled The Vaccine War, which originally aired on April 27, 2010. Based on empirical findings of the research, this project recommends policy directions that can enhance effectiveness of vaccine risk communication and management to deal with this controversy while heightening the level of public health.
More recent CRCR research includes a 2011 study of representative Internet survey samples of 1500 residents in the US and the UK in which perceived risks of vaccines are measured. This analysis seeks to understand cross-national perspectives on the determinants of vaccine risk perceptions.
Weather, Climate and Public Policy
Weather, Climate and Worldviews
The Sources and Consequences of Public Perceptions
of Changes in Local Weather Patterns
In this paper we analyze the changes Americans perceive to be taking place in their local weather, and test a series of hypotheses about why they hold these perceptions. We test rival hypotheses about the origins of Americans’ perceptions of weather change, and find that actual weather changes are less predictive of perceived changes in local temperatures, but better predictors of perceived flooding and droughts. Cultural biases and political ideology also shape perceptions of changes in local weather. Overall, our analysis indicates that beliefs about changes in local temperatures have been more heavily politicized than is true for beliefs about local precipitation patterns. Therefore risk communications linking changes in local patterns of precipitation to broader changes in the climate are more likely penetrate identity-protective cognitions about climate.
Weather, Climate, and Society, 2012. DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-11-00044.1
& Crisis Management
An interdisciplinary research center
The CRCR is an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Oklahoma that studies risk, risk perception and crisis management in several substantive domains. The areas of research interest and expertise include energy and the environment, weather and climate, national security and terrorism, and the social dynamics surrounding complex controversial technologies.
New pathways for understanding
The CRCR seeks to develop new pathways for understanding and managing technological and environmental risks. The CRCM maintains an expanding network of affiliated researchers from other universities, national laboratories, and federal agencies to assist in both defining and utilizing new and unexpected opportunities for research and public policy analysis.