Risk seems to be omnipresent in contemporary everyday life. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep (and even when we are asleep!) we may be engaged in some form of risk-taking or risk-management. What to wear, what to eat, who to befriend, what to watch on-line, how much to wager on that game, how fast to drive, how long to put off that assignment, how to feel, how much to drink at the pub—in all of these decisions we may make more or less conscious calculations about the kinds of risk we will take, and their consequences for us down the line. Sometimes we may be oblivious to the apparent risks we face in our daily lives. We may not think twice before jumping on our bikes without wearing a helmet, or basking in the sun without a hat. Equally, we may develop an inflated sense of the risks that surround us—we may be anxious about flying for example, when statistical data tell us that it is much less risky than driving.
Risks also abound beyond our individual orbits. Organizations expend considerable energy to try to know and off-set risks. National governments, for example, attempt to risk-manage the economy by tweaking macro-economic levers. Cities zone areas according to whether they might be at risk of flooding, or fire, or other calamities. Some companies downplay risks associated with their products (think of tobacco companies, for instance). Others have a vested interest in amplifying the collective worry over this or that risk (think of media companies vying for audience attention, and insurance companies seeking to insure us against increasing numbers of uncertainties).
Starting with the formation of the CISSC Risk Research Working Group in 2015, scholars from across the disciplines of anthropology, applied human sciences, geography and sociology, as well as the fine arts, have turned their attention on studying and theorizing risk, and transformed it into one of the most dynamic areas of cross-disciplinary inquiry at Concordia.