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Leiden University

Risk in Modern Society

Leiden University and LDE Centre for Safety and Security via Coursera


Risk has become one of the defining features of modern society. Almost daily, we are preoccupied with assessing, discussing, or preventing a wide variety of risks. It is a cornerstone notion for businesses and organizations, but also for nation states and their many levels of government. And even for individuals, risk and the avoidance or embracing thereof, is a key theme. The course Risk in Modern Society sheds light on the broad concept of risk. In five distinctive weeks, this course closely examines various types of safety and security risks, and how these are perceived and dealt with in a wide array of professional and academic fields, ranging from criminology, counter-terrorism and cyber security, to philosophy, safety and medical science. Developed in collaboration with scholars from three universities (Leiden, Delft and Erasmus), this course will search for answers to questions such as: “what is risk?”, “how do we study and deal with risk?”, “does ‘perceived risk’ correspond to 'real' risk?”, and “how should we deal with societal perceptions of risk, safety and security?


  • Welcome & Risk in Modern Society
    • In this module, you can find all the information you need in order to be able to successfully complete the course. After you have familiarised yourself with the course, we will move to the content of the first module. In the first week, we will discuss how the concept of risk has played an increasingly important role in shaping our modern society. Tracing the historical origins of this concept, we will look at how our modern conception of risk has emerged, and how it is currently being studied within the academic world.
  • Managing Risk
    • In this module, we will take a closer look at risk management, one of the most dominant approaches to dealing with risk in modern society. You will then be presented with two specific risks which illustrate how this approach is used in practice: the risk of natural hazards, and risks in the chemical industry. In the last video of this week, we will discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of the risk management approach.
  • Risk Perception
    • In this module, we will take a closer look at risk perception and the factors that influence how we experience risk in modern society. You will learn that while experts often rely on various statistical and mathematical models to asses various types of risks, the general public tends to make more intuitive judgments about the severity and likelihood of risk. You will then be presented with two specific security risks, which often invoke a great perception of danger.
  • Modern-day Risks: Global Challenges
    • In this module, you will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of modern-day risks by looking at three key contemporary global challenges involving risk. Throughout the week, each of these risks will be discussed by various experts, who will highlight the most important features and strategies to deal with them. You will learn how, both collectively and individually, each these challenges have the ability to significantly impact the globe, presenting a notable challenge for current and future generations.
  • Risk in Modern Society
    • In this final module, you will be presented with a recap of all the knowledge from the previous weeks. In addition, it contains the final multiple choice quiz of the course. Good luck!

Taught by

Pieter van Gelder, Margreet Vos, Bibi van den Berg, Sabine Roeser, Edwin Bakker, Genserik Reniers, Marieke Liem and Jim van Steenbergen


4.8 rating, based on 8 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 201 ratings

Start your review of Risk in Modern Society

  • Pradip Modi
    A very well structured course. Very ably presented. The facts & outcomes were clearly elucidated. The team worked well in keeping interests alive with numerous examples of everyday happenings & how these could have been managed.

    Implementation of the facts that were presented has obviously gone a long way in the way our futuristic world understands risk & its behaviours & rules.

    I'm very very grateful for the knowledge imparted.

    Thank you Sincerely.

    Pradip Modi
  • Profile image for Quentin
    Great introductory class to risk management. Thorough associated readings help you deepen the subject.

    You can pass the class if you dedicate less than 4 hours a week to it, as the videos are extremely well done and informative. But if you want to really master the concepts and take the time to go through and synthesize all the readings, then 10 hours a week is more like it, although it is not compulsory.

    The pace of the course is on-point.
  • Anonymous
    In this course you get a good understanding of risk, both in safety as in security environments, and how different disciplines approach risk and have different risk definitions. As well, you get a sense of how risk can be assessed and dealt with. An eye-opener for me were the notions of 'perceived risk' and 'risk amplification' which I can use in my daily practice as a communications professional.
  • Anonymous
    Very interesting content.
    The course is quite short if you wonder whether you can finish it (last week is only a quiz).
    The course could ask for more peer-reviewed essay, but it provides lots of additionnal readings for those who want to go further.
  • Anonymous
    Focused, short, to the point and with good reference materials.

    the presenters had very good presentation skills and a pleasant way of generating interest for the topic.
  • Anonymous
    This course was really interesting and has enabled me to understand the concept of risk and what impacts our perceptions of it. I would recommend it.
  • Anonymous
    It was a good Course that opened my eyes to how we react to risks in our daily life. My knowledge of risk management has improved.
  • Anonymous
    It was a great experience for me being the part of this class. I learned so much here and it boosted my knowledge.

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