The exploratory study has set as its target to identify and systematically present new research tasks and perspectives in the thematic field of "Interdisciplinary Risk Research".
These shall help efforts to prevent or reduce systemic risks or to act with precaution in the face of this special type of risks. Systemic risks are large-scale risks that have trans-boundary impacts and ripple effects beyond the original scope of impacts. A case in point is BSE. Although the physical risk to human health has turned out to be relatively small, the repercussions on financial, economic, political and social affairs were tremendous. In addition to economic problems, public confidence was eroded, and the institutional and regulatory frameworks governing food safety were re-examined and re-structured in many European countries.
The study will serve as a basis for a possible new research programme of the BMBF on the topic of "Interdisciplinary Risk Research". According to the funding guidelines of socio-ecological research it aims to improve society's capability to act through better knowledge of intended and unintended economic and social consequences. It places special emphasis upon research approaches which are practice- and actor-oriented.