Online Program Overview
A Risk Analysis Online Course
Risk analysis is a scientific tool designed to help us determine the existence and extent of threats to human health, provide information about how best to manage these risks, and improve our ability to communicate with the public about the proper response to these hazards.
This online course explores the principles of risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication, ensuring you can identify, explain, and make decisions about risks to public health. You will learn how risk analysis is done, how it is interpreted, how it influences regulatory decision-making, and the role it plays in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program will also provide you with the knowledge and skills to analyze how environmental hazards impact human health.
Top Harvard faculty will use case studies, lectures, and small-group work to explore such topics as hazard identification, epidemiology and toxicology in risk analysis, risk perception, risk communication, and the interplay of risk management and the law. You will gain the skills needed to:
- Perform a broader, nuanced risk assessment
- Improve the effectiveness of current risk assessment practices
- Apply these concepts to diverse risk analysis and management issues
During this program, you will explore the legal and policy framework which will inform the direction of risk analysis in upcoming years, gain the skills needed to perform a quantitative risk assessment, discuss key factors influencing the effectiveness of risk assessment and management, and apply these concepts in local, state, federal, or international settings. After completing the course, you will be able to determine whether hazards pose an unacceptable risk to public health, communicate effectively about health risks, and utilize risk analysis to improve decision-making.
What is Risk Analysis?
Risk analysis involves:
- Risk assessment: identifying and characterizing hazards to public health
- Risk management: evaluating how to protect public health
- Risk communication: understanding and explaining health risks
Risk analysis is used to protect the environment and public health by organizing and communicating knowledge about health risks within a framework useful for decision-making. This analysis is used to inform regulatory policy and address concerns associated with health hazards in the environment.
Why is Risk Analysis Important?
The public is increasingly concerned about how their health is impacted by environmental hazards such as chemicals, pollution, and food-borne disease. This increased awareness has repercussions for governments, health organizations, and private companies, all of which have a stake in protecting public health. Risk analysis is a useful framework for managing health risks.
Understanding the nature of risks, how people perceive threats to their health, and how risk information is communicated and understood is imperative to ensuring the proper management of environmental health risks.
Risk assessment has also played an important role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through its role in modeling infectious disease. Risk analysis for infectious disease differs from that of other hazards because transmission depends on dynamic patterns of contact between people. A key goal of policy that risk analysis informs is to promote COVID-19 interventions that reduce this parameter, such as social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, vaccination, identification & isolation of infectious people.
It is also important for private corporations to understand and address the impact of their operations and products on consumers to ensure they are not harming public health. Through the effective use of risk assessment methodologies, your organization can reduce the costs associated with regulatory non-compliance, avoid legal issues stemming from consumer liability and safety problems, and build organizational trust through their proactive management of potentially hazardous scenarios.
Risk analysis skills are equally important to public health agencies, as they must be able to review risk assessments conducted by industry or other agencies, interpret their findings, and prioritize governmental response to public health hazards.