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Lesson aim

To understand what perception of risk means and how such perceptions are made

Lesson objectives

  • To know what perception of risk means

  • To understand the ways these perceptions are constructed

  • To identify how perceptions of risk are made through images, language and stories

  • To think about how these representations shape understanding of risk


Whilst it is possible to use quantitative data to measure the probability of hazard occurring, it is more difficult to measure perceptions and feelings. Ask pupils about the factors that impact how people might respond to risk and note down their ideas as a class.

For example, potential factors could include:

  • Feeling a sense of control over a hazard

  • The visibility of a hazard, and whether it is close to us or not

  • Whether we have chosen to engage with a risk e.g. volcano tourism

Ask pupils to read this short BBC article and note what they identify as some of the key ideas about risk and perception of risk. You can ask pupils to consider the role of visual technology in understanding risk, e.g. Instagram.

Warning against volcano tourism (BBC, 2018)

Main activities

Having introduced the role of images and stories in shaping environmental risk and risk perception show students NASA’s ‘images of change’ and ask them to discuss:

  • What is happening in the images?

  • Why is it important to have visuals of environmental effects?

  • How can images and stories be used together to tell effective stories about risk?

  • How has it changed their perception of environmental risk?

In groups, pupils explore the Climate Hot Map, and investigate some of the risks and environmental changes taking place globally. Pupils should use the Climate Hot Map worksheet to document their findings.

Pupils should listen to this Ask the Geographer podcast by Professor Esther Eidinow and use the accompanying worksheet to make notes.


Are films an effective way of communicating current environmental risks? Watch the trailer for the film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017), as as a class reflect on the opportunities such documentaries offer for communicating about environmental risk — and the difficulties they present. Think about the use of images, sound, and film. Discuss:

  • What kinds of narratives work well in this media, and how are they crafted?

  • What are the challenges?


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Lesson 3 Climate Fiction Worksheet


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