What you'll learn

  • The psychosocial and societal determinants of risk communication through the scientific and systematic overview of risk communication literature
  • Strategic communication of risk information including audience segmentation, designing messaging, and executing risk communications
  • Message construction formats for the communication of risk, including fear, narratives, and exemplars
  • Risk communication inequalities and disparities in health outcome
  • Risk communication and decision making
  • Communication technologies and risk communication

Course description

More than any other public health crisis in recent memory, the COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes the necessity of effective health and risk communication. With the epidemic reaching all corners of the globe, no population or industry has been untouched, resulting in many swift and powerful narratives about the consequences of COVID-19.

Whether in the midst of a global crisis like the COVID-19 epidemic or enduring more localized health impacts, every day public health information is generated and made available to the public about diseases, public policies, new products, and corporate behavior. People are accessing this information in real time via traditional news, online media, social media and word of mouth. The public’s near-instant access to this unfiltered information presents significant new risks, particularly surrounding misinformation, drawing conclusions from wrong or impartial information, and disinformation, deliberately spreading falsehoods to further an agenda. Additional risks include reputation damage for companies who aren’t responding effectively to COVID-19, have negative impacts on health or the environment, or ineffective policy outcomes when health-related guidance is misunderstood or ignored.

This applied program will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to design effective risk communication messages that improve communication outcomes, increase trust in your organization, reduce public anxiety, and help key stakeholders make better decisions.

You will learn from some of the most notable scientists working on risk communication, crisis communication, public health emergencies, decision making, big data, and public health leadership – and how to apply cutting edge ideas in communicating risk in a complex information environment.

Leading experts will draw on both previous pandemics and COVID-19 to illustrate concepts in the program and explore implications for practice. This includes:

Explicitly discussing misinformation and disinformation in the context of COVID-19How to effectively communicate risk during the emergence of an infectious diseaseAnalyzing a case study on providing COVID-19 information to vulnerable communities

Associated Schools

  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Enroll now.
Take course