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Risk Sciences and Public Policy


Fortunately for public health, the days of cookbook applications of risk assessment techniques are over. Risk professionals are coming under increased pressure to interpret complex environmental and health situations in creative ways. The flagship programs of the Institute provide multidisciplinary education designed to increase awareness of the scientific underpinnings of risk assessment and provide a bridge between science and policy that allows innovative public health solutions to complex problems.

We have assembled an esteemed faculty with risk policy experience in government, industry, and academic sectors. Our courses are available to practicing public health professionals as well as students seeking an introduction to risk policy.  Our Introduction to Risk Sciences and Public Policy course is ideal for those seeking an introduction to the field.  The full Certificate Program is recommended for those who intend to practice risk assessment. 

Key aspects of our Certificate Program are its multidisciplinary approach and its foundation in the core values of public health. As such, completion of the Certificate Program requires taking courses in epidemiology, toxicology, and biostatistics, as well as our core course in risk methods and policy.  The core curriculum consists of four courses that will introduce you to risk assessment and its applications to public policy. If you are in the Certificate Program, you must take all four of these courses as well as the three prerequisites or their equivalents.

Certificate Program
Schedule and Locations

Core Curriculum
The core curriculum consists of four courses that will introduce you to methods of risk assessment and its applications to public policy. If you are in the Certificate Program, you must take all four of these courses and three prerequisites or their equivalents.

These classes are taught by Institute faculty and other faculty members involved in risk assessment and management. These courses assume some experience or course work in either environmental sciences or public health.

317.600 Introduction to the Risk Sciences and Public Policy (4 units)
**Also offered online during 3rd term, January 20-March 13, 2009
This course provides an overview of the quantitative risk assessment paradigm and its application in the public policy process. Risk methods and issues are examined in a broad societal context, including consideration of social, economic, and political factors that affect risk decision-making. Lecture topics include risk communication, evaluation of epidemiological and toxicological evidence, uncertainty, and the role of stakeholders. Learning tools include hands-on case studies.

317.605 Methods in Quantitative Risk Assessment (4 units) 
This course builds the quantitative skills necessary to evaluate and conduct risk assessment as well as to understand its strengths and weaknesses. Students learn and apply exposure assessment, dose-response relationships, uncertainty evaluation, and the qualitative and quantitative characterization of risk. Case studies are used to illustrate the implications of various exposure and dose-response approaches for final risk assessment. Laboratory exercises include the use of risk software.  Course 317.600 is a prerequisite for this course.

317.610 Risk Policy, Management and Communication (3 units)
**Also offered online during 4th term, with lectures available anytime during the term**
This course provides an in-depth evaluation of the statutes and regulatory policies related to risk management in the US, as well as international examples. The course presents specific statutes and their requirements and application by agencies at federal, state, and local levels, and by the private and public sectors; the application of risk assessment as a management and priority-setting tool and of the role of the risk assessor in the risk-decision process; the societal context of risk assessment, including its public health, political, legal and economic dimensions; and the evolution of risk-based regulatory reform and cost-benefit analysis in public policy-making.
Course 317.600 is a prerequisite for this course.

317.615 Topics in Risk Assessment (2 units)
Using a case-study approach, students will learn and evaluate key recent risk assessments and analyze factors leading to specific risk policy decisions. This course covers quantitative risk assessment techniques as well as risk management and communications issues as applied in contemporary issues and classic risk assessments.
Courses 317.600 is a prerequisites for this course.

Required Prerequisites for Certificate
Biostatistics (3 Options: 140.622, 140.616 or 280.345 [280.345 for JHU undergraduate students only])
Principles of Epidemiology  (2 options: 340.601 or 340.751)
Public Health Toxicology  (187.610)