Center for Risk and Crisis Management

The University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma, Center for Risk and Crisis Management
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The CRCM 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.

National Security and Nuclear Policies

Evolving Public Preferences on Nuclear Weapons and National Security

Begun in 1993, the national security project is aimed at studying the evolution of public preferences about multiple dimensions of security such as nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and terrorism. Since its beginning, this project has collected data using 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 U.S. and Europe, and face-to-face interviews with policy experts, resulting in more than 50,000 participants from the United States and Europe. Publications include numerous technical reports, academic articles, and a book titled Critical Masses and Critical Choices: Evolving Public Opinion on Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, and Security.

Learn more about the national security and nuclear policies project

Energy Assurance

Understanding how societies address the stages of emergency management

Mankind has always been faced with unexpected occurrences and has sought ways to prepare for, prevent and respond to these events. These events can range from relatively low consequence emergencies, to more consequential crises, and ultimately to high consequence, widespread disasters. The CRCM has undertaken extensive research in the area of understanding how societies address the stages of emergency management, including mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery. Each of these phases offers unique considerations, as well as being heavily influenced by each of the other phases.

State energy assurance planning

Recently, the CRCM conducted a study of state energy assurance planning, focusing on the State of Oklahoma's energy assurance efforts. Energy assurance planning in Oklahoma is particularly relevant given the regular occurrence of catastrophic ice storms, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the state; in addition, impacts from recent droughts on energy production must be taken into account when trying to ensure a stable supply of energy for Oklahoma. CRCM's work also considered the tremendous number of interdependencies which occur between the energy sector and other sectors, each of which must be taken into account in order to develop a robust understanding of the risks posed, likelihood of the occurrence of particular events, as well as the impacts that can result from an energy disruption. CRCM's work was utilized by the State of Oklahoma to formalize the state's Energy Assurance Plan, the final version of which can be found at

Learn more about the energy assurance project

Privacy and Security

Public Perspectives on Privacy, Security, and UAS: 2014

The University of Oklahoma’s Center for Risk and Crisis Management conducted a nation-wide Internet survey on 16–17 January 2014 investigating the dynamics of privacy, security, and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Responses were collected from 1,364 participants selected from more than 1,000,000 panel members by Survey Sampling International using its proprietary Dynamix sampling system. Participation included respondents from all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. Data have been weighted to national demographic parameters for age, gender, Hispanic ethnicity, race, and geographic region

Learn more about this project

Public Attention and New Media Project

Cycling of public attention

Public attention is 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, this concern can prompt policy change. For example, heightened attention to the myriad 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

word cloud CRCM's research on public attention revolves around three core topics. The first area seeks 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? The second area outlines the factors that cause public attention to fluctuate over time. In particular, CRCM's research focuses on the way that individual and collective risk perceptions stoke public anxiety, often resulting in 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, CRCM collaborates with researchers in other disciplines (such as public health and epidemiology) to construct and validate ‘real-time' metrics of public attention based on data from new media. Currently, the Center is collecting data on issues that include RWM policy, weather, and natural disasters from two sources—Internet search trends and microblogs such as Twitter.

Siting Nuclear Facilities

Understanding the dynamics of siting

The siting of nuclear fuel cycle facilities is a complex process, and predicting outcomes of siting efforts is extremely challenging. A clearer understanding of the dynamics and challenges associated with the siting process may help reduce the associated uncertainties. Accordingly, CRCM's research revolves around determining which factors are crucial for the successful or unsuccessful siting of nuclear facilities.

Dynamics of the policy process

CRCM's research focuses 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?

Comparative perspective

In addition to research on nuclear facilities within the United States, CRCM researchers have evaluated international cases including India, Sweden, South Korea, and France. This comparative methodology 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, CRCM plans to research additional international cases 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 CRCM 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

In 2010, CRCM undertook a study that 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.

Cross-national perspectives

More recent CRCM research includes a 2011 study of representative Internet survey samples of 1,500 residents in the US and the United Kingdom 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 2012, CRCM researchers conducted an analysis of the changes Americans perceive to be taking place in their local weather, and tested a series of hypotheses about why they hold these perceptions. This research tested rival hypotheses about the origins of Americans' perceptions of weather change, and found that actual weather changes are less predictive of perceived changes in local temperatures, but better predictors of perceived flooding and droughts. CRCM's research also found that cultural biases and political ideology also shape perceptions of changes in local weather. Overall, the analysis indicated that beliefs about changes in local temperatures have been more heavily politicized than is true for beliefs about local precipitation patterns, and therefore risk communications linking changes in local patterns of precipitation to broader changes in the climate are more likely to penetrate identity-protective cognitions about climate.

Weather, Climate, and Society, 2012. DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-11-00044.1

Weather in Oklahoma

Currently, CRCM researchers are undertaking an effort to field a 5-year Internet-based survey that will gather data on Oklahomans' perceptions of and behaviors concerning weather, climate and energy in Oklahoma. These resulting social data will be matched with and analyzed in conjunction with climate and ecological data to create an unparalleled repository of data in this area. The first survey instrument is planned for February 2014.

Social Media and Severe Weather

Dr. Carol Silva will lead a project to research how Twitter could be used as a source of local weather observations. A NOAA award of $250,000 will fund the project which began fall 2012.

Current Research

Energy Assurance

National Security and Nuclear Policies

Privacy and Security

Public Attention and New Media

Siting Nuclear Facilities

Vaccine Risk Perception and Behavior

Weather, Climate and Public Policy

Studying Risk,
Risk Perception,
& Crisis Management

An interdisciplinary research center

The CRCM 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 CRCM 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.

Learn more about the CRCM.