Established through a generous gift of £10 million from Lloyd’s Register Foundation and £11 million in funding from NUS, the new Institute is a first in Asia to enhance public understanding of risk
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation today officially launched the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk at NUS, the first international academic and public outreach institution of its kind in Asia.
In its academic role, this new Institute will spearhead transformative research on the scientific understanding of risk and its practical application through a multi-disciplinary approach that brings together science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. As a public outreach institution, it would endeavor to serve as a trusted and authoritative voice to enhance public dialogue on risk issues that are relevant to communities in parts of Asia and internationally. Through research, education, and outreach, it aspires to be a world leading node of excellence to pave the way for policy makers, regulators, business leaders, scientists, and the general public to make better decisions collectively for the betterment of society.
The new Institute was officially launched today by Singapore Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong.
The Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk was established through a generous gift of £10 million from the Foundation, a charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom (UK) that works to enhance the safety of life and property and advance public education. This is the Foundation’s largest gift outside the UK to date, and it is also the largest gift towards research that NUS has received from a foreign foundation. In line with NUS’ commitment to the Institute, the University will contribute £11 million in funding for the new Institute.
NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said, “Understanding risks and the effective communication of these risks are areas that are vital to nearly all societies, and often underdeveloped in many parts of the world. The new Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk at NUS will help to bridge this gap in Asia, and take the lead in high quality research in this underserved area.
“We are deeply appreciative to the Foundation for its generosity and partnership, and for sharing our conviction in pushing for pioneering work in this area of significant and growing importance. Our goal is to carry out research, education and public outreach programmes that will have a high impact in advancing public discussion and understanding of risks in areas which are of importance, particularly for Singapore and Asia.”
Managing Director for Lloyd’s Register Foundation Professor Richard Clegg said, “We are delighted to be working with NUS in establishing this first Institute for the public understanding of risk centered in Asia. The Institute will play a vital role in Asia and internationally in helping policy makers, decision makers, and opinion formers in government, industry, regulators, the media, and the general public make better decisions on risk issues. The public understanding of risk is one of the four strategic themes of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and working in true partnership with NUS is going to make real impact in this field for the ultimate benefit of society.”
Lloyd’s Register Foundation for the Public Understanding of Risk
With a projected staff strength of 50 researchers at steady state, the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk seeks to map public concerns with a focus in Asia, build scientific capacity that mediates expert and lay understandings of risk issues, and develop effective risk communication tools and methodologies of use to policy makers, regulators, scientists, media and the general public. The Institute will leverage on NUS’ deep expertise in a broad range of disciplines, from engineering to data analytics, as well as the University\'s global network of industry and university partners, to tackle complex problems that cut across sectors and geographical boundaries.
A risk perception study conducted recently in China and India by NUS researchers showed that people overestimated the likelihood of events with low true frequency (such as death from terrorist attack and food poisoning), but underestimated the likelihood of events with high true frequency (such as cybercrime). Survey participants also generally overestimated others’ risk perception. Such findings highlight the disparity between actual risk and perceived risk, and underscores the importance of the new Institute’s role in Asia to enhance public understanding of risk. The survey also showed that interestingly, Chinese and Indian participants are most worried about different risks – the former is economic while the latter is environmental. Asia provides a diverse test bed and findings may be applicable to countries outside of Asia.
The Institute will undertake in-depth international research with an Asia-centric focus to offer decision makers in governments and businesses in the region access to previously unavailable data and information to positively inform their actions and policies. It will undertake up to 30 research projects in the first five years, and may focus on research areas where the Foundation and NUS have deep expertise and strategic interests. Where applicable, the projects will be conducted in collaboration with local and international institutions. The Institute will also partner governments and businesses on joint research projects and ad-hoc consultancies to enhance their assessment of risk and improve their decision making.
The Institute will also attract top risk experts from across the world to collaborate and exchange ideas and knowledge. It aims to attract up to 20 distinguished visiting faculty in the first five years to complement and provide further thought leadership based on their field of expertise in risk communication. It plans to offer up to 30 Fellowships in the first five years, for the best young scholars in the region to pursue research related to risk communication.
As part of its outreach efforts, the Institute will also conduct training programmes for industry and government leaders, and organise conferences to bring experts together, to forge closer networks and collaboration on risk communication across Asia.
The Institute will train 25 Masters, PhDs and post-doctorates in the first five years. Two PhD scholarships in risk communication will be awarded each year, with preference given to PhD students from disadvantaged or under-represented communities.