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February 21, 2024
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Other U.S. Government
Risk Communication: Messaging to Build Trust and Understanding
Intermediate Level Training
Hosted by U.S. EPA, Community Involvement and Program Initiatives Branch
Community Involvement University (CIU)

What is the course overview?
Messaging is a process to characterize the community and their underlying concerns; predict questions likely to be asked; and prepare clear, concise answers to those questions, tailored to the stakeholders underlying concerns. Coupled with knowledge in risk perception and skills in communication, message mapping can be a useful framework to develop a risk communication strategy for long-term environmental cleanup.                

Who should take this course?
This course is recommended for Superfund staff (remedial project managers, on-scene coordinators, community involvement coordinators, risk assessors, supervisors, and technical staff) and other EPA project managers, supervisors, engineers, scientists, community involvement specialists, public affairs officers and related enforcement or environmental specialists who work on environmental health problems.

What are the course learning objectives?
Participants who complete this course will gain skills on how to:

  • Identify factors that influence a person’s perception of risk;
  • Assess your individual competency in appreciative listening;
  • Summarize the five steps in developing message maps; and
  • Practice identifying community concerns, anticipating questions, and preparing responses for those questions.

What are the logistics?
This five-hour course first presents concepts of risk perception (i.e., outrage factors) and common biases in decision-making involving risk from a non-technical perspective and explores aspects of appreciative listening. Course participants are guided through a listening assessment and exercise, discuss the technique of messaging and why it is useful for long-term environmental cleanup programs, and practice developing a message map on a controversial issue. The course ends with a general discussion on how to use this framework to answer difficult community stakeholder questions regarding risk, including: Is it safe? What does a risk of 10-6 mean? What is “background? Recommended course size is 24 participants.

The presenters include EPA Regional Superfund risk assessors and OSWER Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) team leader who works in the Superfund Community Involvement and Program Initiatives Branch.

Is there available background material?

For general information contact Tina Conley by telephone at 703-603-0696 or via e-mail at

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