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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 11 | 1. März 2012
Reckoning with the Risk of Catastrophe

DFG-NSF Research Conference, 3–5 October 2012, Washington, DC

This is the seventh research conference jointly supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), aimed at strengthening the research ties between the United States and Germany and fostering joint research activities.

The emphasis of the 2012 conference will be on scientific advances across disciplines to help societies assess and manage their vulnerabilities to catastrophic risks. Abstracts are invited from German and US academics, regulators and practitioners engaged in conceptual, methodological and empirical research that may advance our ability to anticipate, avoid or reduce the impacts of major hazards. The conference will showcase the most promising frontier research pertinent to risk identification, estimation, characterisation, assessment, forecasting, prioritisation, perception, communication, governance, mitigation and policy making.

Submitted abstracts – no more than 1 page, 10-point font, single-spaced – should describe a promising advance and identify both a conceptual/methodological approach and a pertinent risk domain, and are due on 15 May 2012. Types of contributions and domains may include but are not limited to:

  • Conceptual Framework: behavioural aspects of risk; social, political, cultural contexts and dynamics; vulnerability, resilience, reliability; complexity and nonlinear dynamics; institutional and structural forces in risk; probabilistic risk assessment; integrated risk management.
  • Methodological Approach: risk, uncertainty, probability modelling; cognitive modelling; consequence modelling; scenarios; simulation (including agent-based modelling); game theory; case studies, interviews, surveys; Delphi methods; comparative or historical approaches; event-, decision-, value-, tree-analyses.
  • Risk Domain: natural hazards; infrastructure and technological risks; human-caused risks; social, political, economic risks; ecological risks; systemic risk; emerging risks.

Participants are expected to have a genuine interest in cross-disciplinary interaction and to take part with the aim of setting up transnational research collaborations. The conference will facilitate both focussed scientific discussions and networking among the participants. It is expected that collaborations will not have been established prior to the conference. The funding agencies will consult with participants regarding appropriate avenues for supporting collaborative projects.

There will be a small number of slots reserved for graduate students working on these issues to attend the conference to discuss their own work and to serve as rapporteurs for the conference sessions. Interested applicants should submit a 1-page letter by 15 May 2012 outlining their reasons for wishing to attend and what they have to contribute to the workshop.

Abstracts and graduate-student applications will be reviewed by the Conference Steering Committee (Lee Clarke, Rutgers; Ralph Hertwig, Basel; Andrew Lo, MIT; Ortwin Renn, Stuttgart; Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, Stanford; Friedemann Wenzel, Karlsruhe). Decisions regarding participation will be announced in June 2012. Participants will be invited to make oral presentations and to serve as discussants. The expenses of participants will be covered by the conference organisers.

Further information

Additional information, including the conference venue and tentative schedule of events, instructions for completing and submitting abstracts and graduate student letters, and the membership of the Conference Steering Committee are available at the conference website: