The University of Kentucky's Risk and Disaster Communication Center, in the College of Communication and Information, was launched to bring together researchers across disciplines to provide broader, more systemic, and interdisciplinary approaches for understanding how to communicate about risk, disasters, and crises. Initiatives include advanced education in risk areas and contexts, organizational training and consulting, and community engagement and outreach.

Risk and Disaster Communication Center faculty engage in theoretically informed research to identify practical applications for risk communicators across all phases of crises and disasters. Utilizing state-of-the art technology, our research extends across multiple channels and modes of communication, providing insights on effective messaging for preparedness, response, and recovery. Our research extends into the classroom through the Graduate Certificate in Risk Sciences and into the community through consulting and outreach. 

Current research projects include:

  • Social media message modeling to identify characteristics that increase the likelihood of message retransmission under conditions of imminent threat. 

  • Public risk perceptions and affective responses to risk events via social media. 

  • Media tracking for organizations and government agencies that need to know how messages are being communicated by the media and received by the public in a crisis. 

  • Message testing to determine which message elements increase the likelihood that individuals will take protective actions for environmental and health risks, across a variety of channels. 

  • Participatory community-based research to develop messages most relevant to audiences. 

  • Community audits to determine trusted and reliable communication channels for disaster warning and recovery information. 

  • Network analyses to describe how relationships in groups or organizations affect safety practices.